Category Archives: Technical tips and ideas

Flash cure

So that’s why my prints are washing out!

Do you know that if you’re relying on your flash cure to cure your prints, you’re running the risk of improper curing? If you’re serious about putting out a great print, get the proper equipment. How would you feel about a surgeon taking out your appendix with a kitchen knife rather than a scalpel?

Plastisol

I didn’t know that!

Do you know that regardless of what some ink manufacturers say about being able to use their ink straight from the container, you should stir it every time before scooping into the screen? Plastisol gets a little “thicker” in the container over time — a good stir not only makes it easier to work with, but will let you know if you have to consider a thinner.

A tip for you

Use the ink designed for the fabric.

Use an ink designed for your substrate. Sound obvious? Perhaps, but printers still make this mistake every day. Polyester fabrics are prone to dye migration so use a dye-block ink designed for polyester. Some fabrics stretch, so use a stretch ink on them. Not sure what type of ink to use? Ask Stanley’s.

A tip for you

Think about your online strategy for 2018 and beyond.

Earlier this year a tip indicated that Generation Z (1996 and younger) will be 40% of all consumers by 2020 and 79 percent of them show symptoms of emotional stress when separated from their personal electronic devices. This is a reminder that as you approach the new year and think about future online marketing plans, you should be taking this into account.

A tip for you

Have you considered focussing on a particular customer type?

Continuing with the theme of finding and edge in the market, have you considered focussing on a specific industry or service with your printing? For instance, what about beauty salons? It’s a huge industry that uses uniforms, T-shirts, towels, and robes. Focus in business can be powerful.

A story with a message

Here’s Graham at Stanley’s Calgary branch a few days ago . . .

Keep it clean.

“We had a customer yesterday who desperately needed a repeat of a  gallon of red plastisol ink he’d had before. Usually this is no problem at all. As long as we have the Wilflex colour’s name or the 5-digit code, we can mix the exact match and have it ready in a few minutes. But in this case there was a problem.

He could no longer read the bucket label because of sloppy house-keeping procedures — it had been destroyed by first messing ink all over it and then probably trying to wipe it down with a solvent cleaner, who knows? Anyway, when this happens we have to try to identify which red it is from past records or try to colour match it by eye. This is time-consuming and sometimes difficult depending on the colour.

The lesson? In order to prevent contamination of colours and avoid ending up with buckets of mysterious, unnamed colours, remember that cleanliness is next to godliness when working with plastisol inks.”

Well said.

 

A tip for you

Select your Polyester ink carefully.

 

Polyester doesn’t just mean a single type of fabric anymore. There are different types of Polyesters on the market now. Light-weight inners, light and heavy-weight outer garments, single or multiple layers, weatherproof outerwear, suitable for sublimation, and so forth. These different Polyesters along with the usual Polyester bleeding issues, require the right ink. Select your Polyester ink carefully.

A tip for you

Don’t overdo the squeegee strokes.

 

 

 

If you have a manual press and you’re relatively new to textile screen printing, you may be struggling with the number of strokes of the squeegee you need to get a decent print. You don’t have to “work” the ink into the garment. One stroke should do it but if you need additional coverage you can do a second stroke but do it in the same direction of the first stroke.

A tip for you

You can’t print like this.

This is a particularly good tip if you’re new to screen printing. Keep ink off your hands while printing. Plastisol has a sneaky way of finding it’s way to where you don’t want it to be, particularly when you’re inexperienced. It finds its way onto container sides, lids, work surfaces, squeegee handles, frame edges, and then onto your hands. Once on your hands it’s only a matter of time until unwanted smudges begin to appear on your garments. So, be fanatical about cleanliness.

A tip for you

Don’t overdo the flashing!

 

Don’t become a flash cure addict. Almost anyone can get a good print by curing between each colour — it covers up issues like thick ink, poor artwork overlays, etc. But it slows production down. Overcome the flashing habit and speed up production with good artwork, the correct mesh, the right ink viscosity, and only the number of strokes needed (not too many). Only flash when absolutely necessary.

 

A tip for you

Always stir your ink before using it.

 

 

Plastisol gets a little thicker when it sits around in the container. You should be in the habit of always stirring ink before using it — you never know for sure how long it has been sitting idle. Another reason to always stir is that you’ll quickly establish if it needs a thinner before you scoop it into the screen. But be careful about adjusting white inks because additives can change their vital properties.

A tip for you

Use the right ink!

 

 

 

 

It shouldn’t be an issue anymore, but it is. Different plastisols are designed for different substrates. Make sure you have the right ink before you start a job and your prints on Polyester won’t bleed and those on Nylon won’t peel off (to name just a few perils of using the wrong ink).

A tip for you

Generation Z is having an impact on online retailing.

 

 

If you have a textile screen shop with an online store selling direct, or if you’re thinking of launching an online store, here is a tip from CMO.com in a post about Generation Z: “55 percent of those 18 years of age and younger would rather buy clothes online . . . ” Considering that generation Z will apparently account for 40% of all consumers by 2020, this is something to take note of.

What are these?

I have no idea . . .

Do you have any idea what these are: BACX; CUPRO; ROICA; ECOTEC; and RE.VERSO?

Are they:

  1. Mexican-manufactured automatics;
  2. New Wilflex/Rutland colours by PolyOne to celebrate the merger;
  3. Lung diseases caused by aerosol adhesives;
  4. Different mesh weaves;
  5. Types of eco-friendly fabric; or
  6. Varieties of organic cotton grown in Egypt?

If you picked “(5) Types of eco-friendly fabric”, you’d be right. And why does this matter? Well, besides the fact that it’s an interesting snippet of information about our industry, you may be called upon soon to print on one or more of these fabrics. If this happens you don’t want to have to admit to your customer that you’ve never heard of the stuff before. You should also know which ink to use. So here are the details of these new fashion fabrics:

BACX:  Manufactured in Italy by Centro Seta. It’s a blended silk textile that incorporates Newlife fibres and a silk yarn regenerated from spinning waste.

CUPRO: A Japanese fabric from the silky cotton fibres that stick to the seeds of the cotton plant after it’s been ginned. It handles like Rayon but breathes and regulates body temperature like cotton.

RE.VERSO: Another Italian fabric. It consists of up-cycled wool and Cashmere manufacturing offcuts. Ecologists love RE.VERSO because it uses almost 90 percent less water, uses almost 80 percent less energy, and generates more than 90% fewer carbon emissions than its conventional alternatives.

ECOTEC: Yet another Italian fabric. It’s woven from 100 percent pre-dyed, pre-consumer cotton scraps.

ROICA: Japanese again. Its a stretch fabric made of about 50 percent reclaimed pre-industrial waste. Applications include sportswear, lingerie, underwear, and outerwear.

These fabrics are in the market already from fashion houses to retailers like Marks & Spencer and under labels like Giorgio Armani. They could be on your press soon too.

Those &#!!*@! pinholes!

Don’t. Tell. Me. About. Your. Pinholes!

It’s a rush job and the press operator is on your case, the boss is on his case, and the customer is on the boss’s case. “We can’t do the job without screens! Where are they?”

You try to explain that you have pinholes and has anyone seen the bottle of block-out? And isn’t it Murphy’s law that the bottle of block-out was thrown out by the cleaners over the weekend because it looked old and had been sitting around for a long time?

In addition to always having block-out close at hand on the shelf with a “Do not touch my block-out” label on it, there are things to know about preventing pinholes. First of all, it’s almost never the fault of the emulsion — no decent emulsion manufacturer includes pinholes as an ingredient. It’s usually one of these things:

  • mesh contamination
  • poor degreasing techniques
  • poor post-degreasing drying techniques
  • dirty screen-making department
  • improper preparation of emulsion
  • particles in the emulsion or film
  • coating speed
  • trough design
  • incomplete drying of the emulsion
  • improper exposure
  • contaminated exposure unit glass
  • contaminated film positives

Take care of these basics and your &#!!*@! pinhole disasters should be few and far between. Blaming the emulsion is barking up the wrong tree — unless you bought some really cheap rubbish, But you’d never do that, would you?

A tip for you

Don’t take risks with your ink-fabric matches.

 

 

 

If you have any doubt about matching an ink with a fabric (something that’s critical in today’s world of never-before-seen-fabrics), help is available. Stanley’s has access to Wilflex’s laboratory facilities where they can quickly test the fabric and advise on the best ink to use. Don’t risk the job if you’re not certain about the fabric — get expert help.

A tip for you

A nice, firm, even, but not too high pressure is best when coating screens with a hand-held trough.

 

 

 

 

When coating screens using a hand-held trough, consistent pressure is better than maximum pressure. In fact, if the pressure is too high you can damage the mesh. But if the pressure is too low, you could end up with an uneven coat. So, a consistent, firm (but not too high), pressure is best for an even coat.