New Video: Applying Emulsion

In this new video featured on our IC TV YouTube Channel, Kieth Stevens shows his “true and tried” method of applying emulsion.  Follow his simple tips to coating a nice, even screen.

Kieth Stevens has been a screen printer and industry representative for more than 35 years, and has been teaching screen printing for more than 12 years. In 2014, he won a prestigious Golden Image Award for screen printing from SGIA. Stevens is a regular contributor to International Coatings’ blogs.

International Coatings manufactures a complete line of non-phthalate screen printing inks, including a wide variety of whites, specialty inks, special effects inks, color matching systems, additives and reducers. For more information on our products, please visit our website at www.iccink.com.

April 28, 2016 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Happy Earth Day!

EarthDay-1

Happy Earth Day!

Let’s work to keep our planet healthy!

Here’s a tip on how you can help:

Proper Ink Disposal Methods

April 22, 2016 at 10:43 am Leave a comment

Three Important Factors for Flash-Cure Units

Flash cure unitMost screen printers are familiar with the flash-cure unit, and many shops use this piece of equipment as part of their production sequence.  A flash-cure unit is used during production to cure the surface of the ink only, at least, that’s what it’s intended for.

It is important to understand the relationship between several factors that play a role in how well the flash cure gels the ink, and how to manipulate each to get the best results. Here are some tips from Kieth Stevens, recently published in Printwear, on what to watch out for when trying to set up the flash for optimal use:

  • Timing:  Depending on the ink you are using, the flash time may vary from a couple of seconds to several seconds.  Some inks are designed to flash faster than others to minimize flash times during production runs. Typically, 2–3 seconds should suffice to get the ink surface to gel.  Be careful not to over-flash the ink, as it may become tacky after gelling and stick to the next screen.
  • Temperature:  Different flash-cure units produce different amounts and types of heat depending on whether they are using quartz bulbs or infrared panels.  Each of these differences will cure ink at different speeds, so adjustments may have to be made in the temperature settings in order to get an optimal flash-cure on the ink you are working with.
  • Distance:  This is the third determining factor in working with flash-cure units and may be one of the most important. The distance between the flash-cure unit and the platen will ultimately determine how much heat the platen receives, regardless of what the temperature of the flash-cure unit is set at.

These three factors work hand in hand in dialing in the optimal temperature and dwell time for the flash-cure unit to gel the ink.  Remember that parameters might also change during printing, such as the temperature of the platens rising from repeated exposure to the flash, so be sure to adjust any or all of the three factors accordingly. Consistency is the goal to strive for when using the flash-cure unit, so that the ink cures to the gel stage and will not stick to subsequent screens.

Kieth Stevens has been a screen printer and industry representative for more than 35 years, and has been teaching screen printing for more than 12 years. In 2014, he won a prestigious Golden Image Award for screen printing from SGIA. Stevens is a regular contributor to International Coatings’ blogs.

International Coatings manufactures a complete line of non-phthalate screen printing inks, including a wide variety of whites, specialty inks, special effects inks, color matching systems, additives and reducers. For more information on our products, please visit our website at www.iccink.com.

April 19, 2016 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Get The Most Out Of Your Ink – Quick Tip

SqueegeePull2Here is another quick squeegee tip from Kieth Stevens, published in Wearables Magazine:

What happens if you apply too much squeegee pressure?  It makes the print look not as opaque or worse, blurry! Back off the squeegee pressure instead, to where it almost doesn’t print.  Then slowly add pressure until the print looks optimal.

It may take a couple of tries to get the print to look opaque and clear, but in the long run, you’ll also be saving on ink and muscle.

April 12, 2016 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

Print a Stretchy Puff Design

WearablesWearables Magazine recently featured Kieth Stevens’ “recipe,” on how to print puff ink on Lycra or other stretchy fabrics without puckers or cracking.

1) CREATE YOUR RECIPE. Start with Super Stretch Clear 3805 (77%); you can find this at International Coatings). Add Puff Additive 220 (18%). Add the color of your choice, such as a color concentrate (5%).

2) ENSURE ALL YOUR INGREDIENTS ARE WELL MIXED. Poorly mixed ingredients will result in a poorly printed finished product, such as uneven loft or color striping.

3) PREPARE YOUR MESH AND EMULSION. Use a mesh screen that allows for the proper printing of your design. For a puff ink, a lower mesh screen, like an 86 mesh, is recommended in addition to a thick emulsion layer. Remember that the puff’s thickness can be determined by the thickness of ink you print. A thin emulsion coating will only deposit a small amount of ink, with little puff effect.

Snowflake1

4) PRINT, FLASH, PRINT. A thick ink layer is recommended to create a loftier puff print, so plan to print, flash and print several times.

5) CURE THE PRINT. Cure at 320°F for 60 seconds.

TIP: To add glitter and shine to the garment, create a second screen and print using a translucent, iridescent glitter flake ink, like the 155 Crystalina Shimmer (you can procure this from International Coatings).

See our accompanying Video on our IC TV YouTube Channel:

Avoid Puckering

When large design areas are covered with puff ink, the ink can expand to such a degree that the fabric underneath gets pulled or puckered due to the expansion process. To avoid fabric pucker, screen printers can modify their artwork. Instead of creating one solid design, create a design that uses dots or some other similar pattern. The spacing between the dots will allow for expansion of the puff ink while minimizing the pulling or puckering of the fabric. This technique is especially effective with fabrics that include Lycra or are stretchy.

Solid-vs-Dot-Pattern

Kieth Stevens has been a screen printer and industry representative for more than 35 years, and has been teaching screen printing for more than 12 years. In 2014, he won a prestigious Golden Image Award for screen printing from SGIA. Stevens is a regular contributor to International Coatings’ blogs.

International Coatings manufactures a complete line of non-phthalate screen printing inks, including a wide variety of whites, specialty inks, special effects inks, color matching systems, additives and reducers. For more information on our products, please visit our website at www.iccink.com.

April 5, 2016 at 5:40 am Leave a comment

Register Screens Successfully

Registration4

Figure 4

Ever struggled with registering your multi-color print job? In this article, recently published in Wearables magazine, Kieth Stevens goes into detail and gives some good tips.

When creating art and color separations for a multicolor print job, it is standard practice to include registration targets (or marks) to align all the films or layers and then the screens. Here are some tips on what to consider when working with multiple screens for a design:

Registration1

Figure 1

• The finer the detail of the registration mark (thinner lines instead of just a fat square), the more accurate you can expect the registration of the screens to be (Figure 1). This is especially important if the design is detailed and requires more precise alignment. I suggest placing the targets as far apart as possible and having at least three marks per film to get the best results.

Registration2

Figure 2

• With a light-colored fabric, use the black or other dark-color screen to register the design. Conversely, with dark fabrics, use a white or light-color screen. In our example here, we’ve used a white fabric that was test printed with blue ink (Figure 2), resulting in printed registration of the blue on white (Figure 3). Be sure to center the design so that it will be centered on the final garment or, if it’s to be printed in a special location (such as left chest), that it is placed correctly.

Registration3

Figure 3

• Test-print the screen to a fabric or pellon. Flash the ink so it won’t smudge, but be careful not to over-flash to avoid the image from becoming distorted, and thus making it impossible to assure a proper registration.

Registration5M3

Figure 5

• Now register the other colors (in our case, the lighter color) to that test print (Figure 4). A tip for this: When registering screens for a multicolor job, always take into consideration the direction in which the squeegee will be pulled. Register the screen slightly toward where the squeegee is coming from (top to hem or hem to top, whichever way the squeegee is usually pulled by the operator), and you will have more success in hitting perfect registration the first time. In our example, the squeegee is pulled from top to hem, so the screen is registered a hair’s breadth above the registration mark on the test print, with the slightest bit of blue peeking out at the bottom of the squares (Figure 5). That way, when the squeegee is pulled or pushed, the movement of the mesh will align the design to the correct position (Figure 6).

Registration6

Figure 6

• Also note, less adjustment needs to be done (when registering from where the squeegee is coming from) when the mesh is stretched tighter. But when using older screens that aren’t at the proper tension, you may need to adjust the registration further toward where the squeegee is coming from.

• Always try and keep your pallet as level as you can and keep the screens level and perpendicular to the pallet. Many presses have adjustments to each print head that allow you to adjust the screen levelness to the pallet and to add off-contact by raising the screen up above the pallet/shirt, thus creating the proper peel as the squeegee passes and deposits the ink.

• When making any adjustments to a press for either the registration or screen levelness, be sure to fully loosen all the nuts or clamps while making the adjustments and then fully tighten the nuts and clamps once done to assure that nothing is moving.

• When adjusting the screen on a press or swinging the pallets into position for registration, try not to push or pull on the pallet or screen itself, or at least be extremely careful not to use too much force to avoid jarring the pallet or bumping the screens out of registration in the process.

• If the imaged screens are going to be saved for use in the future and are not being reclaimed, remove any tape used to block out the registration marks before the screens are put away for storage. The adhesive on the tape can deteriorate over time and can make it much more difficult to remove later.

A beginner may take several tries to get registration right, but once the basic steps are mastered, it should not be a problem.

Following some or all of these tips and suggestions will preclude unnecessary mistakes, and thus lessen any potential issues on press. Furthermore, the job will be up and running, with less downtime and, at the end of the day, more cash in your pockets.

Kieth Stevens is the western regional sales manager for ink manufacturer International Coatings. He has been working in the screen printing industry for over 35 years and  teaching screen printing for more than 10 years and is a regular contributor to International Coatings’ blogs. For more information, visit iccink.com.

International Coatings manufactures a complete line of non-phthalate screen printing inks, including a wide variety of whites, specialty inks, special effects inks, color matching systems, additives and reducers. For more information on our products, please visit our website at www.iccink.com.

March 28, 2016 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

Happy Easter!

Easter2016

March 24, 2016 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

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