November '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Page 52 of 88

Shops can ex- plore financing options when it comes time to purchase their curing equip- ment. (Image courtesy BBC Industries) 46 || P R I N T W E A R N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 7 Heating Up WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A FLASH-CURE UNIT AND DRYER B Y M I K E C L A R K F or screen printers and direct- to-garment printers, achiev- ing a properly-cured print can make or break a transac- tion with a new customer. The quality of the print, after all, is one of the main factors that will either keep a client coming back or seeking out other options. To achieve quality prints, most shops own either a flash-cure unit, a conveyor dryer, or in many instances, both. The follow- ing are chief factors on why these pieces of equipment are important, and what one should look for when shopping around. CHANGES AND ADVANCEMENTS Since the advent of flash-cure units and conveyer dryers, the actual processes both pieces of equipment serve has changed lit- tle. However, various features like more re- fined controls, accurate temperature gauges, a quartz-driven flash, and on/off sensors (for flash-cure units) are all improvements manufacturers have introduced over time. What's truly changed, sources contend, are the advances in ink and printing tech- nology. Newer advancements like water-based inks and direct-to-garment technology have introduced new variables because of their differing time and temperature re- quirements. "I think the technology in the ink has changed more than the grassroots tech- nology of curing," explains Eric Stogsdill, BBC. "When you break it down, you're still using an energy source, be it electric or gas, to get to a specific temperature." Michael Jirasek, Anatol, adds that the chemistries of newer inks have "facilitated both the speed of the flash and the con- veyer dryers." These changes as well as the arrival of new garment blends factor into what a shop should look for when seeking out both a flash-cure unit and a dryer. WHAT TO LOOK FOR The consensus is rather than compare both categories of equipment head-to- head, decorators should consider what their needs are and how either a flash-cure unit or dryer will accommodate those needs. For instance, flash-cure units pro- vide a surface cure and prevent things like dye migration for multi-color prints. Meanwhile, a dryer provides the full-cure of an image area so that the garment main- tains washfastness and the print holds over time. While a flash unit can be used to do the final cure, most experts do not recom- mend this technique unless a decorator's screen-printed output is very low volume.

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