Printwear

November '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 1 4 N ov e m b e r Printwear | 55 white to achieve an even brighter white is also an option. LOOKING BACK When I first saw a flash-cure unit in 1986, I was working as an artist and machine op- erator for a medium-size company in Los Angeles with just one automatic. At the time, I was printing garments, signs, glass, and anything else that would fit a screen, and wet-on-wet printing was the only way to print onto T-shirts. The inks of the past were highly opaque, contained who knows what, and weren't de- signed to print wet-on-wet. Because of the heavy solids content in those inks, we had to stop printing around every 200–300 shirts to clean the buildup accumulated on the bottom of the screens to prevent the open areas of the images from clogging. Except for the first screen and one-color prints, the inks created a paste on the bottom of every other screen in the rotation. We used coars- er screens to accommodate the pickup un- derneath and produce the brightest print. At the time, the only type of mesh available was a multifilament type, which is a whole different story. One day, my shop's owner arranged for two of us to visit a local shop that had one of these flash-cure units on an automatic press. I remember the moment I first saw it: My eyes opened wide, and my jaw dropped. I didn't understand what I witnessed at the time, but I knew it was revolutionary. MODERN FLASH-CURE UNITS Where would specialty inks be if it weren't for the modern flash-cure unit? Over the years, I've created many crazy designs that were specifically engineered with flash cur- ing in mind. When heavy metals were re- moved from plastisol inks, the opacity was also greatly reduced, hence the need to cre- ate a whitish underbase to increase opacity, which isn't feasible without flashing or gell- ing the underbase. The ability to print-flash-print a white also enables printers to use finer meshes when printing one color on a T-shirt with a greater amount of detail and quality. Mod- ern textile graphics on dark fabric simply would not exist because of the amount of detail that would be lost without the flashed white underbase. Today, two popular types of flash-cure units include: • Quartz: This heating unit consists of long halogen bulbs that burn intensely but cycle on and off to maintain a cer- Opposite: Flashing allows for multiple colors to be overprint- ed without bleeding or blending. (Image cour- tesy ICC Ink) Right: This atomic graphic shows the colors of each ring blending smoothly into the next hue to create a flow. In the close up print, we can see that this is achieved through overprinting on the base, a process that will rely on flashing between each color change. (Image cour- tesy ICC Ink) Left: Flash units should only gel the ink enough to allow for overprinting. over flashing can cause adhesion issues. (Image courtesy ICC Ink)

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