March '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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88 | PRINTWEAR M A RC H 20 1 5 A fter 29 years, I relocated back to my home state of Michigan. For most of the summer, I rehabbed a house to make it livable, and during con- struction, I was reminded of an important piece of information taught to me by both my father and stepdad: use the right tool for the job. In the simplest terms, you can pound a nail with a shoe, but a hammer works much better and saves a lot of headaches. We have to make do at times, but the process is usually harder, frustrating, and time consuming. This is true even in our industry. As I talk to screen printers and troubleshoot problems, many issues can be avoided or money and time can be saved with the correct tool—four of which every shop should have, no matter how big or small the business. HYGROMETER A hygrometer is nothing more than a small device that measures humidity. In most of the country, humidity is the killer of screens and stencils. If humidity is too high, stencils cannot properly dry. As water evaporates out of the stencil when drying, the moisture goes into the surrounding air. In many cases, the stencil feels dry to the touch, but with the presence of wa- ter molecules in the stencil, it prevents proper cross-linking of the emulsion, and this causes underexposure, no matter how long the exposure time is. Underexposed emulsion causes a loss of detail, premature breakdown, difficulty in reclaiming, and pinholes—all of which are time and mon- ey wasters. The key is controlling the screen-drying environment. This is commonly done with 4 TOOLS EVERY PRINT SHOP SHOULD HAVE B Y A L A N H O W E Alan Howe has more than 27 years of hands-on industry experience. He entered the industry in 1987 with an equipment manufacturer and has since held technical sales and management positions with companies such as Jay Products and Easiway Systems. Howe resides in Columbiaville, Michigan, and is the technical sales manager for Tech Support Screen Printing Supplies in Pittsburgh. A familiar face at trade shows and seminars, Howe has published many industry articles. Howe has also traveled the world as a short-term missionary and is involved in humanitarian efforts locally, domestically, and worldwide. Streamlined Screen Printing

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