September '15

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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80 || P R I N T W E A R S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 5 WATER-BASED INKS For decorators that insist on using wa- ter-based inks and are prepared with the needed equipment, chemicals, techniques, and emulsions, there are a few water-based options available. The current product tends to be a blocking, underbase white, with colors printed on top. Water-based inks face similar issues to plastisol in terms of heat, and the post-evap- oration cure temperature is still very close to the sublimation temperature. As with plas- tisol, this option tends to require close heat and flash control. Adhesion to the synthet- ics in this case also tend to be problematic when not cured correctly or when excessive- ly abused. TWO-PART SILICONE INKS A bonding two-part silicone product is another choice that's turned into an ef- fective ink. Because the product is cured both chemically by adding an activator and by setting with heat, the required heat is much lower and keeps the product away from the dye sublimation tempera- ture. This dual action also creates a lasting bond and adhesion to synthetic fabrics; in effect it acts like glue. One of the most impressive bits about the silicone inks is the ability to stretch with the fabric in ways no other ink can match. This is particularly useful on high spandex/Lycra content products, as it will stretch with- out losing its bond to the fibers. The very low "skinning" temperature is about 220 degrees to 275 degrees F. The downside to silicone is in some ways related to the benefits. The two-part ink requires activation and then has a timed lifespan after it has been activated. Some subjective criticism about the "hand" or feel of the cured ink on the garment as "rubbery" has been postulated. I tend to find this issue moot when dealing directly with the end users who understand the re- lated hand issues. Cure of this product also needs to be addressed as it is a true two- part activated and chemically cured ink. It needs not only the heat to "skin" for pro- duction reasons, but it also needs time to fully bond to the product. Customers need to be warned that the product is not actu- ally capable of being laundered until the ink has finished its bonding process. This could mean that the customer may need to avoid using or laundering the product for the recommended time after printing. Additionally, printing with this ink proves odd for some printers as it often requires higher mesh counts, different printing and flashing techniques, and speed of squeegee travel. Heat control is the last word. With all the systems, the basic issue is the dye in the substrate itself. This can be mitigated by close heat control or the use of products that have usable heat ranges well below this problematic issue. When all is said and done, performance wear is a completely accessible feat. With a little extra consideration for heat and a well thought out plan, you can add this specialty to your repertoire and increase your bottom line. PERFORMANCE INKS

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