Syndicated by One Source Media, Queens, New York
Dreaming about warm summer days when your ink flows oh so smoothly? Winter and its cooler temperatures sure makes it difficult for a screen printer, especially with white plastisol inks. The ink feels thick, stringy, and stiff. It requires more effort to lay down a good ink deposit. Does it have to be this hard? Nope. Ink and Chemistry Guru Colin Huggins shares his secrets to making white plastisol ink easier to handle during the cooler months.
Photo by Rogue Lab.
TYPES OF PLASTISOL INK
Different plastisol inks have various consistencies: Some feel thin, others feel thick, and many are in the middle. This situation is especially true for white plastisol ink due to their varying purposes. Athletic inks, poly inks, cotton inks, low bleed inks, etc. all differ in viscosity, making some easier to print compared to others.
Plastisol inks are also either short- or long-bodied. Short-bodied inks are easy to move around. Plus, they don’t leave long ink trails from the spatula. Long-bodied inks are stiffer and stringy, especially in colder temperatures. They typically leave long ink trails from the spatula.
Say your print shop is in your garage. On your ink shelf, you have FN-INK™ and Wilflex Perfect White. If you woke up one morning to start printing white ink, you would notice a huge difference between the two inks. Perfect White is a long-bodied ink. It’ll feel thick and stringy, making it difficult to lay down a good ink deposit. Whereas FN-INK™ is a short-bodied ink, so it’ll be easy to work with right out of the bucket. Both types of inks will work better when the ink warms up.
Photo by Golden Press Studio.
HOW TO WARM UP THE INK
Whether you have a long- or short-bodied ink in your shop, you’ll want to warm up the inks to ensure easy printability and consistency with ink deposits and curing temps and times. If you don’t warm up a white plastisol ink before printing, you’ll notice that the first few prints will be thicker compared to the rest. The thicker prints will look brighter and they’ll have different curing times compared to the others. Warm up the inks to make production run smoothly.
The ink needs to hit 80° before you start printing. There are a few options for you to pursue to achieve a warm, white plastisol ink.
Modulate the ink. You could do it manually by stirring the ink with a spatula. Or, grab a drill and an ink mixing drill attachment to stir it. The mixing introduces heat from the friction.
If you know you’ll be printing with white ink the next day, leave the ink in a warm room overnight. A darkroom would work great (since it’s supposed to be warm). If you’re doing laundry that night, bring it in that room. Wherever you know is warm, stick the ink in there to help heat it up.
Photo by Salt & Pine Co.
Another way to warm up the ink is to put the cold ink on the screen, flood it, warm up the platen to 150°, and lower the screen over the heat-radiating platen. The only issue with this method is when you put more ink on the screen, you have to go through the process again.
Lastly, some printers use their flash dryers or conveyor dryers to warm up the ink. It is an option, but you run the risk of gelling the ink. If you go this route, be cautious.
PRO TIP: Do not store inks against a wall that faces the outdoors. The outside temperature will cool down the walls, and the walls will pull heat away from the ink.
Until summer comes to keep inks warm and creamy, you’ll have to do an extra step to ensure consistent, high-quality prints. Try out the methods and see which one works best for you. Taking this step will help you continue to power the print.
* This article was originally published here
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