Top 10 Steps To A Successful Screen-Print
At our recent seminar we reviewed a lot of material regarding printing tools, emulsion, screens, etc. There certainly are a lot of variables to consider with screen printing. To sort through a bit of the confusion, we asked Kieth Stevens, our Western Regional Sales Manager and Ed Branigan, our Print Applications Manager to condense the printing process into what they consider the top 10 steps to check off in order to achieve a great print:
1 ARTWORK: Make sure that the design can be reproduced i.e. line weights are not too thin or dots too small. Think about the type of application that’s being designed for and the ink type being used. The color separation is also critical.
2 FILM: Use a very clear film – not vellum. Make sure the image is as dark as possible.
3 SCREEN / MESH: Degrease before coating. Rinse thoroughly. Proper coating with emulsion is important. Follow the manufacturer’s specs for coating and exposure. Select the appropriate mesh for the art size and ink deposit desired. (For more info, see our previous blogs: “Confused About Mesh?” and “Importance of good emulsion coverage.”)
4 INK: Select the ink best suited for the design and the fabric being printed on: Low bleed ink (such as our 7041 Paramount White) for fabrics containing polyester or cotton inks for cotton fabrics (such as our 7038 Cotton White), etc.
5 SQUEEGEE: Select the squeegee with the proper durometer (hardness) and be sure that there are no nicks in the blade. (See our blog on squeegees).
6 PALLET: Make sure that the pallet is level and that the design fits on it leaving at least a 2 inch space from the design edge to the edge of the pallet.
7 FABRIC: Know the fabric that you are printing on. If using polyester or poly blends, test for bleeding before printing. Inks behave differently depending on the fabric being printed on.
8 FLASH: If using a flash between colors, use the flash wisely. Avoid overheating.
9 CURING: Test dryer temperatures and make sure that they are consistent. Follow the ink manufacturer’s recommendations for heat settings and time. Most plastisol inks cure at 320 degrees F (160° C). However, time is your best friend, so keep the oven temperature lower (min 320° F, 160° F) and slow the dryer down if possible. If after curing the ink doesn’t crack when stretching fabric, the ink is properly cured. (For more, read our previous blog on proper curing).
10 SAMPLE: Always sample whenever possible. Test all suspect fabrics before production.
For more about International Coatings products, visit our website at www.iccink.com.
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