May '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 8 M A Y P R I N T W E A R || 65 When it comes to pairing jobs with the best-suited plastisol types, similar to mesh, it will often boil down to a gar- ment-first approach. A large run of 100 percent cotton T-shirts, for example, ver- sus a custom job of heat-sensitive athletic wear will change the requirements for cur- ing temperatures and ink deposit amounts. From there, shops can determine which series of ink works best and narrow down whether they'll need to use categories like low-bleed or low-cure inks. COMMON PROBLEMS Probably the most complicated part of printing with plastisol, Blank notes, is the fact that all printers print slightly differ- ently. Because every shop has its own pro- duction method, preferred plastisol line(s), and varying levels of experience in print- ing, these variables can skew what kind of problems or challenges arise on the shop floor. Markus points back to four main items any shop, regardless of methodology and product, should keep top of mind: squee- gee quality, mesh count, mesh tension, and emulsion thickness. "The squeegee itself is a huge part," he states. "If I'm using an 80 or 90 durometer and I'm trying to get a heavy (ink) deposit, I'm shearing the ink off while trying to print it because I'm not getting the flex in the blade." Experimenting with low- er durometers and better angling can often help correct issues a shop might have before they even deduce it to their ink quality. Stevens suggests that a few key routine maintenance tasks will also help cut down on common problems found with plasti- sol printing. Ensuring that mesh is prop- erly cleaned after each job will help prevent slowdowns in production, usually brought on by the buildup of fibers from garment fabrics in the screen. Periodic cleaning and paying close attention to flashing/cooling times will help sidestep common issues, particularly when printing a white under- base on dark fabrics. "Having a cool-down station after the flash is important because if the next color is printed immediately on top of the white ink, the temperature of the ink may still be too hot and cause part of the mesh to stick to it," states Stevens. This can compromise the design and may also clog the screen mesh. Ultimately, sources urge printers to be open to trying different inks to dial in what works best for each type of job. This may mean experimenting with multiple brand lines, but the consensus is that once a print- er does this, they'll have a few key tools on hand to tackle every job with minimal trial and error to slow down production. Above: Basic storage techniques like re-lid- ding containers and putting leftover ink in separate containers will help avoid long-term headaches. (Image courtesy Total Ink Solu- tions) Below: High-opacity inks have emerged as a common trend among modern plastisols. (Image courtesy Monarch Color Corporation) continued on page 77

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