Posts tagged ‘John Levocz’

Screen Printing Startup Equipment, Part III

1818 on SHHD Auto StandThis is Part III and the last part of John Levocz’ article on what equipment a start-up printer would need.  Read Part I or Part II on our blog or read the entire article in Printwear magazine.

OTHER EQUIPMENT

There are also nonessential but helpful equipment and ancillary pieces for your new business, such as a homemade or purchased washout booth. Normal water and high-pressure water are used to clean screens. If you use the same booth to wash emulsion and ink from screens, keep it clean. If you make a homemade unit, add back-lighting to view emulsion washout for proper detail. A pressure washer is a nice addition to your washout booth for removing emulsion from screens.

Another helpful piece of equipment is some type of heat temperature reader. this can either be temperature tapes, a heat gun, or a thermoprobe. The heat tapes are the least expensive of the three, but heat guns have dropped in price and are now available at a variety of of building supply stores and tool centers. Because curing is such an important factor to screen printing, it’s essential to monitor the process daily and on different types of garments.

I also recommend a spotting gun. This tool removes cured ink spots that always seem to magically on the finished garment, which usually comes from ink on fingers that touch the shirt. This spotting gun allows you to remove the ink without damaging the shirt.

While the above is not an exhaustive list of necessary startup equipment, it gives you a good idea of the most important items to focus on when starting a screen printing business.

John Levocz, International Coatings’ Northeast regional sales director, has been in the screen printing industry for more than 30 years and has broad experience in graphics and textile printing. John is a contributor to International Coatings’ blogs and holds print seminars all over the country.

International Coatings manufactures a complete line of Centris™ non-Phthalate screen printing inks, including a wide variety of whitesspecialty inksspecial effects inks,color matching systemsadditives and reducers.  In addition, International Coatings also manufactures a line of AXEON™ non-Phthalate, non-PVC special effects inks. For more information on our products, please visit our website at www.iccink.com.

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June 20, 2017 at 5:31 am 1 comment

Screen Printing Startup Equipment, Part II

M&RComboHere is Part II of John Levocz’ article, published on Printwear, on what printers need for a start-up (Read Part I on our blog):

CHOOSE A PRINTER

There are many types and styles of manual printers in the market place, but they’re ultimately all designed to complete the same process. Some print better than others, but the job at hand is to enable a printer to print sing;e or multiple-color designs onto garments quickly, efficiently, and in registration.

Look for a printer that’s expandable. This could be a printer that expands from a single color to four colors or four colors to six colors. It’s less costly to expand this way as opposed to buying new equipment because you outgrew what you originally purchased. Given the designs and types of garments that are printed today, start with a four-color printer with four stations for loading, flashing, and cool downs. Also, consider a printer with micro-registration for a quicker and easier job setup.

Buying a printer is like buying a car. Visit your distributor’s showroom if possible and take a test drive. Do the micros move smoothly? Does the press spin freely with minimum effort? Remember, if all goes well, you’ll use it all day. As for the references of other decorators who use this equipment. If possible, call them to get their opinion. As long as you’re not in direct competition, most are willing to answer a few questions regarding the press they purchased.

FLASH CURE UNIT

Along with the printer, you need a flash-cure unit. This equipment enables you to flash your under base, so you can print on dark garments and specialty pieces. A flash cure unit is an essential piece of equipment in your shop. These units operate at high temperatures to gel the ink before moving to another screen, especially on designs that cannot be printed wet-on-wet.

Considering the high operating temperature, an automatic-style flash is a good option. This type of flash stays over the garment and moves away after a specified time to eliminate burned shirts and, even worse, burned platens on your press that would have to be replaced. In my experience, I can almost guarantee that if you opt to not get an automatic flash, you will get distracted and burn shirts and platens.

DRYERS

After the printing is complete, the garment now needs to be cured or dried. Standard plastisol inks require 325 degrees F at specified times for a proper cure. You can have the best artwork and nicest design, but if the ink washes off the first time your customer cleans the shirt, you won’t be in business long. Proper curing is an important part of screen printing and should not be overlooked.

For a startup business, I recommend an electric infrared conveyor drying system. These dryers convert infrared energy to heat to cure the printed garments. As with presses, many dryers are expandable in length, so the dryer can grow with your business. If you saved some money in other areas look for a 36 belt width. This allows for a press on each side of the dryer as your business grows. And with all the different types of material printers are asked to decorate these days, good airflow is a must. This airflow helps eliminate scorching and shrinkage and solidly cures the decorated garment.

John Levocz, International Coatings’ Northeast regional sales director, has been in the screen printing industry for more than 30 years and has broad experience in graphics and textile printing. John is a contributor to International Coatings’ blogs and holds print seminars all over the country.

International Coatings manufactures a complete line of Centris™ non-Phthalate screen printing inks, including a wide variety of whitesspecialty inksspecial effects inks,color matching systemsadditives and reducers.  In addition, International Coatings also manufactures a line of AXEON™ non-Phthalate, non-PVC special effects inks. For more information on our products, please visit our website at www.iccink.com.

June 13, 2017 at 5:24 am 3 comments

Screen Printing Startup Equipment

VastexComboStarting a screen printing business is an exciting venture, but like most startups, determining what you need can be an intimidating process, especially if you’re new to the industry. With more than 30 years of experience, here is John Levocz’ take (published in Printwear) on what equipment is needed to start a profitable screen printing business.

GETTING STARTED

You don’t have to be an artist to get started in screen printing. In fact, there’s a variety of companies that can provide stock art programs to help you create basic designs, which are printed onto a clear film. Start by researching these companies online and speaking with your equipment distributor to find the right program for you. Many laser and inkjet printers are available, so it’s helpful to review options with your distributor.

Choose a printer that gives you the densest black possible in your price range. This dense black on the clear film is used to create your screen. Remember, the blacker the print and the cleaner the film, the better. To create the screen, you need a screen frame along with an exposure unit or light source to burn the image from the film onto a screen coated with emulsion. As far as frames go, they run the gamut–from wood to retentive aluminum.

When it comes to light sources, three types are available to screen printers: multi-bulbs, single bulbs, and LED units. The multi-bulb fluorescent units use fluorescent tubes, which provide a specific light spectrum designed to work with screen printing emulsions. Do not make your own unit with the fluorescent lights from your home. It will not work well. In the case of a single bulb, it provides that same specific light spectrum to expose screens and generally holds finer detail. The newest technology is the LED exposure unit, which uses a multitude of LED lights to create the proper light spectrum.

For a screen printing startup, consider a multi-bulb fluorescent unit for its affordability and ability to hold reasonably good detail. Whichever unit you choose, make sure it has a vacuum to hold the film with the screen.

Stay tuned for Parts II and III or read it on Printwear.

John Levocz, International Coatings’ Northeast regional sales director, has been in the screen printing industry for more than 30 years and has broad experience in graphics and textile printing. John is a contributor to International Coatings’ blogs and holds print seminars all over the country.

International Coatings manufactures a complete line of Centris™ non-Phthalate screen printing inks, including a wide variety of whitesspecialty inksspecial effects inks,color matching systemsadditives and reducers.  In addition, International Coatings also manufactures a line of AXEON™ non-Phthalate, non-PVC special effects inks. For more information on our products, please visit our website at www.iccink.com.

 

May 30, 2017 at 12:35 pm 5 comments

Mother’s Day Decorating: Screen-Printing Ideas

Mother's Day 2017

In a recent article posted by Printwear Magazine, John Levocz gives us some interesting screen printing tips and ideas for preparing designs this Mother’s Day.

 

For Mother’s Day prints think outside of the box and use specialty inks to create designs that shine. Moms love bling.

Glitter inks

Remember to print glitter inks through coarser mesh counts to let the glitter flake pop. Check with your ink manufacturer for the recommended mesh count. I recommend a 24 mesh count for the best results.

Shimmer inks

Shimmer inks use a finer metallic particle and can be printed through higher mesh counts (86–120 count) to create a shimmer look.

Remember when printing glitter or shimmer inks to adjust your dryer to achieve full cure temperatures. The metallic flake in glitter and shimmer inks will reflect the heat away from the garment. Usually, a slower belt speed will do the trick. Remember to test before going into production.

Reflective inks

Reflective prints also give designs pop during low light conditions when hit by a bright light. Check with your ink manufacturer for proper mesh counts and curing temperatures as a variety of different reflective inks are currently on the market.

Gel-gloss inks

Overprint gels are another way to enhance standard prints by adding shine or a wet look to a print. Most gels can be printed through an 110 mesh count screen. Remember to reach the recommended full cure for optimum clarity of the finished gel print.

Foil adhesives

Using foil will help you create a shiny design in an almost endless color pattern. Most foil adhesives are printed through a 74–110 mesh count depending on the design.

All of the above inks and methods can be used in creating designs for shirts as well as hats, cotton gardening gloves, cloth calendars, and aprons for Mom’s special day. By using your imagination, you can create endless designs on a variety of substrates.

John Levocz, International Coatings’ Northeast regional sales director, has been in the screen printing industry for more than 30 years and has broad experience in graphics and textile printing. John is a contributor to International Coatings’ blogs and holds print seminars all over the country.

International Coatings manufactures a complete line of phthalate-compliant 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.

May 10, 2017 at 2:29 pm 2 comments

ISS Atlantic City Starts This Week

ISS17_AC_637X375

Come join us at the ISS Atlantic City Show starting this Thursday, March 23rd – Saturday, March 25th at the Atlantic City Convention Center. John Levocz will be in attendance, so be sure to connect with him there.

Don’t miss our latest products showcased at our distributor partners’ booths:

Davis International, Booth 1437

Nazdar Source One, Booth 729

See you there!

March 20, 2017 at 2:00 pm 1 comment

Considerations for Decorating Workwear

JacketLogoThe term “workwear” covers a large range of imprinted clothing. Everything from industrial uniforms to safety and specialty clothing all fall under this category. However, although these diverse end uses are technically the same, the requirements of each industry can vary drastically. In this article, recently published in Printwear Magazine, John Levocz breaks down each major industry and looks at common differences to help you be successful in printing these garments.

Industrial style uniforms

Industrial style uniforms can be any type of cotton, 50/50, or polyester uniforms worn by workers that have some type of print on them. Uniforms that require industrial laundering such as mechanics’ uniforms, restaurant wear, or any others that are worn in a very dirty environment will not be a candidate for standard plastisol inks. Instead, most of these uniforms use some sort of emblem—either embroidered, heat transferred, or screen printed—to embellish the uniform.

If the garment is screen printed, it is done so with a solvent-type ink system able to withstand aggressive industrial wash cycles and high temperatures. Plastisol ink can only withstand normal home wash temperatures and cycles. Other industrial style uniforms that do not require industrial laundering can use standard plastisol inks. Low bleed plastisol for 50/50, and inks designed for polyester are the latest craze for garments used in the workforce. Generally, these uniforms are worn in warehouse environments where industrial laundering is not required. Even though these uniforms can use plastisol ink, a full and proper cure is essential to keep a lasting print.

Beware that some of these uniforms are made of heavyweight materials that can soak up the heat in your dryer and prevent the ink from reaching the proper cure temperature. Try to run similar materials together to reduce cure issues. Since the heavier fabric may require a longer dwell time and higher temperatures, running a heavyweight work shirt and a lightweight white T-shirt down the same oven chamber at the same time can lead to under-cure or scorching.

Remember, the ink on a work shirt should be visible. Always use the mesh count recommended by the ink manufacturer to get the proper ink lay-down and appearance that the customer wants and expects. On uniforms and work shirts, you are looking for a visible and long lasting print, not a soft feel with low visibility. Pay attention to emulsion coating, mesh count, and cure temperature to create a highly visible and long-lasting print.

Outdoor clothing

Outdoor workwear usually consists of different jacket styles or sweatshirts. Most sweats worn as workwear are usually 50/50 or 100 percent polyester. The 100 percent polyester helps repel moisture and is usually more comfortable and lighter to wear during a full workday. For 50/50 sweats, a good low-bleed ink printed through the proper mesh count and with just enough pressure to lay the ink on top of the garment should do the job and exhibit a visible, long-lasting print. As always, the proper emulsion coating and cure temperature will go a long way in creating a durable print.

The 100 percent polyester garment can present some unique challenges. When printing on 100 percent polyester garments, the biggest issue will be bleed; aka dye migration. Bleed occurs when the polyester dyes release from the fibers and travel through the ink film. This causes the ink film to show the color of the dyes. The bleed issue is usually very pronounced on maroon and red colored garments, but it can happen with any colored garment, although the darker the garment color and the lighter the ink color, the more noticeable it is.

What makes polyester bleed is the heat required to cure standard plastisol inks. Heat causes the dye to release from the polyester fibers and migrate through the ink film to appear on the top layer of ink. A good low-bleed ink can often stop this dye migration before it reaches the top of the ink surface and turns the ink to the garment color. Remember, the ink needs to migrate completely through the ink film for it to turn colors. This can take 24-plus hours to completely occur, so a test print the day before starting production on the garment with the ink you will be using is recommended. This is not always easy but more cost effective than having to replace the shirts and printing them all over again.

Other types of outdoor workwear include work jackets. Most jackets are either nylon, polyester, or some form of cotton or canvas. Polyester jackets require the same steps and precautions as polyester sweats do to minimize bleeding. Nylon jackets use basically three different types of weaves: taffeta, oxford, and satin. The taffeta weave is a plain weave where the yarns alternately pass over and under each other. The oxford weave is a basket weave of two threads over and two threads under. The satin weave is a weave that produces a very lustrous fabric and is used to make satin jackets.

When printing on nylon jackets, an ink specifically designed for nylon is always the best choice. These inks are a two-part system that uses an adhesion promoter or catalyst to provide the necessary adhesion and abrasion resistance needed for outdoor jackets. As always, follow all the manufacturers’ recommendations on mesh counts and the amount of catalyst or adhesion promoter to be added. Weigh the components to avoid any failures after printing.

Some jackets have a water-repellent coating that will potentially become an issue when printed on. The coating is designed to help water from saturating the garment, but depending on how heavily it blocks water, the coating can also inhibit ink from bonding correctly to the jacket. If the ink is not bonding correctly, the abrasion resistance and adhesion will be compromised.

To check for a water-repellent finish, pour a small cup of water on the garment. If it beads up and does not soak in after a few minutes, you could have an adhesion issue. Wiping the print area with isopropyl alcohol can help remove some of the coating and allow you to get better adhesion.

Safety workwear

In today’s safety minded workforce, high-visibility clothing is highly sought after. Standard high-visibility yellow and orange work shirts are mostly cotton or polyester. You’ll note that most workwear in the marketplace—and other garments for that matter—are made of polyester.
Most of these shirts or sweats can be printed in the same way as cotton, however, you do need to account for bleed on polyester. The big issue with safety garments is when reflective ink needs to be added. Most of the straight-line reflective areas on these garments consist of reflective tape applied during the manufacturing process. These tapes meet the safety specifications for reflectivity set up by the government. However, more and more printers are getting requests from customers—especially EMTs, police or firefighters—for a reflective print, such as a logo or other marking. While these designs can be printed using a reflective screen printing ink, the designs will not meet the government specifications for reflectivity like the tapes do.

All reflective inks work in a similar fashion. A reflective bead is mixed into a base, and when printed, the base will soak into the garment and leave the bead partially exposed to light, reflecting light back to the source. Depending on how much bead is exposed and the orientation of the bead, the reflectivity can change. For this reason, it won’t pass reflectivity tests set up by the government. This is also why screen printed reflective ink is considered a visibility enhancement.

Most reflective inks are either water-based or plastisol-based products. Many use a coupler to ensure that the bead is locked into the ink film when fully cured and will not release from the garment during normal wash cycles. When printing reflective ink, remember that less is more. One flood stroke and one print stroke using the mesh counts recommended by the manufacturer will give you the brightest and most durable print.

Band aids

When printing workwear, I like to keep the following products on hand for challenging situations:

  • Stretch additive: This will allow the ink greater stretch.
  • Low-cure additive: This will allow the ink to cure at a slightly lower temperature to help reduce bleed and help with any shrinkage issues.
  • Low Bleed Reducer: If your inks need to be reduced, error on a low-bleed reducer to help with bleed.

Now that you know which inks to use with which fabrics, printing on workwear is hopefully less daunting.  While the term workwear might be new to you as a screen printer, it can definitely be a growing part of your business. By following ink manufacturers’ recommendations and doing the proper testing, it can be a profitable addition to your company.

John Levocz is the North East regional sales manager for International Coatings. For more information, visit iccink.com and read the company’s blog

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 4, 2016 at 5:00 am Leave a comment

DAX Chicagoland April 24-25, 2015

chicago_tshirt3Our Tradeshow season continues with the DAX (Decorated Apparel Expo) Chicagoland Expo.  Be sure to come by if you are in the area.

The venue location is:

Tinley Park Convention Center
18541 Convention Ctr Dr
Tinley Park, IL 60477

Register online before April 19th for FREE admission tickets.

The following International Coatings distributors will be at the show to showcase our latest products:

Atlas Screen Supply – Booths 222, 322

Nazdar Source One – Booth 704

SPSI Inc – Booths 401, 402

John Levocz will be in attendance and there will be screen print demos at Atlas, SPSI, and Workhorse (booth 344).  Stop by and check it out!

DAX-Chicago-Hockey-01

April 15, 2015 at 8:06 am Leave a comment

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