Store Ink Safely in Any Weather

June 9, 2016 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

IC-Inks-2Proper ink storage varies, depending on the climate where you live. In an article recently published in Wearables magazine, Kieth Stevens offers some important tips on how to keep your ink in working condition for a long time.

THERE’S NO ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL solution to protecting your ink supply. How you store it has a lot to do with the climate where your shop is situated. If your shop is based in a climate that experiences colder winters and you order water-based inks or emulsion supplies via mail, be sure to order them while the weather is still warm, recommends textile screenprinting inks developer/supplier International Coatings.

Anything water-based, which includes emulsion, will freeze when it’s exposed to long periods of cold. It’s also wise to store inks above the floor in winter. Heat rises, and keeping the ink warm will lower its viscosity. Higher ink viscosity makes it harder to shear.

For shops in hotter climates, store inks away from walls exposed to afternoon sun. The sun will warm the walls and any ink stored next to them. Fast-flashing and low-cure inks can heat to the point where they gel and become unusable. In warmer climates, you should also store ink closer to the floor where it’s cooler. Never place smaller containers on top of dryers or flash cure units, because the rising heat can start the gel process quite quickly.

Humidity may also be a problem, not so much with inks, but with screens and garments. When coating screens with emulsion, make sure they’re entirely dry. If they’re tacky to the touch, they haven’t dried thoroughly. Using screens in this condition could cause issues with pinholes and emulsion washout.

Garments can also be affected by humidity, which can cause problems with inks, especially when you’re using water-based inks. Make sure your garments are moisture-free, as the curing process will only start after all wetness is gone from the garment. Shirts will need to hit at least 212°F to expel all the moisture properly. Some shops may have to increase curing time if dealing with a humid environment. To determine if your shop is one of those, load your belt with garments and do a test cure. This will introduce the most mass and humidity to the dryer and help you accurately set the necessary cure temperatures.

Tips for Properly Storing Ink Here are some tips for proper ink storage, regardless of climate:

• Store your inks between 65°F and 90°F (that’s 18°C to 32°C). Monitor temperatures in your shop to make sure it doesn’t get too hot or too cold. Try to maintain a consistent temperature if possible.

• Store the ink with the lid tightly sealed. A tight seal keeps out debris and dirt, and also helps keep temperatures more even and consistent.

• Stir ink prior to use. Ink that’s too viscous or thick isn’t usable. Stirring will help you determine whether your ink is usable.

• Don’t store ink on the floor. Concrete floors can get too cool. Carpeted floors may be too warm. Store ink on shelves off the floor where temperatures will be more consistent.

Kieth Stevens is the Western regional sales manager for International Coatings. He has been screen printing for over 37 years, teaching screen printing for more than 12 years and is a regular contributor to International Coatings’ blogs. He also won a 2014 Golden Image Award from SGIA.

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.

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