June '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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80 || P R I N T W E A R J U N E 2 0 1 5 2. Operational issues: It's easy to convert from water-based ink to plastisol, but it's typically more painful to go in the oth- er direction. Even under extreme con- ditions, the flow properties of plastisol don't change. The process is predictable and consistent. Traditional water-based ink is transpar- ent and generally low tack because of its selection of resin, plasticizer, and solvents. This is an advantage. It requires less force to print, generally produces at top print- stroke speed, and is unlikely to build up if the ink is fresh. Inks and coatings that contain water tend to develop fungus. Long ago, am- monia was used as an anti-fungal, but to- day's additives elevate the pH level, which may interfere with chemical wetting and trapping. Pungent odor and phase separa- tion indicate that an ink emulsion broke down. Keeping the mesh thin, the blade sharp, and the stroke speed high mitigates wetting issues with fresh ink. The final operational note regards sten- cil life and preparation. Stencil chemistry should remain reclaimable and highly resistant to water. Permanent screens are not viable for most. An alternative is to prepare for longer runs by having redun- dant backup screens ready to go to press in case of premature stencil breakdown. 3. Ecology and hygenics: Inks contain fos- sil fuels, and some have a higher level of volatility than others. Keep ink off your skin and out of your eyes and have ade- quate exhaust and air flow to remove all volatiles and irritants. Dispose waste as recommended by the manufacturer and local authorities. Before making a hard conclusion about the safety or true value of any compound, research the product. Just like plastisol, two-part silicone and urethane, sol- vent-based sublimation, and even alkyd enamels, water-based ink has rules and regulations. Tackling water-based inks without preparation or research is likely a short-lived fool's errand. Treat the rules and the handling of each appropriately, so the products can serve us as intended. WATER-BASED INK Top: This boutique-style water-based print uses a colored slurry wash for an all-over effect. Above: Pictured is a true four-color process discharge using in-house-formulated, single-pigmented colors. Traditional water-based ink is transparent and generally low tack because of its selection of resin, plasticizer, and solvents.

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