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Fibrillation

Fibrillation

The thumbnail version:

  • Fibrillation is annoying
  • Fibrillation can spoil a great design
  • There are ways to deal with fibrillation

The full version:

To recap, in textile screen printing fibrillation is the name given to that annoying habit cotton garments have of going “hairy” or “fuzzy” as soon as the first ink goes down and the screen pulls up fibers as it lifts.. And the consequence is that if you then flash-cure and proceed with laying down the other colours, you end up with a “rough” print.

This has been an issue for a very long time and a number of different methods have evolved for dealing with fibrillation. One solution is to lay down a clear coat and flash before the application of the colours. Other methods are more ‘mechanical.’ Some of them involve special equipment while others tend to be more of the ‘MacGyvered’ variety. MacGyvering is all very well but it’s not always the most productive way of doing things, especially is there is equipment designed specifically for dealing with the problem in a production-friendly way.

One such efficient mechanical solution involves a screen with a non-stick sheet and a roller (instead of a squeegee) for flattening protruding fibers right after flashing. While this is primarily designed for automatic presses, a non-stick sheet and a squeegee (instead of the roller) may work well for a manual press.

If you’re having issues with fibrillation or would just like to explore more efficient methods for dealing with it, give Stanley’s a call at any one of the Canada-wide branches: Cambridge 1 877 205 9218; Calgary 1 800 661 1553, Edmonton 1 888 424 7446; Richmond 604 873 2451.

Is the lack of a stencil thickness gauge the reason for some of your printing problems?

Is the lack of a stencil thickness gauge the reason for some of your printing problems?

The thumbnail version:

  • Textile screen printers have been known to “wing it” with some technical aspects.
  • Stencil thickness is one of those aspects.

The full version:

The textile screen printing industry is still notorious for “winging it” in some of the more technically tricky aspects of screen printing. Some shops are very particular about technical precision but many are not. For instance, how many shops own a stencil thickness gauge? How many just slap on a one-on-one coating of emulsion and hope for the best? Do you?

Why would anyone need a stencil thickness gauge? Well, for a start, how do you know whether or not a screen is appropriately coated with emulsion for that particular mesh count if you cannot measure it? And secondly, you could be having print issues from time-to-time and not know that they are caused by a too-thin or too-thick coating of emulsion.

The emulsion over mesh (EOM) ratio is used to determine the appropriate thickness of a coating of emulsion relative to the thickness of the mesh. The idea is to give the stencil sufficient shoulder to bridge the mesh threads properly and provide a good gasket with the substrate. Anything more or anything less than the appropriate EOM can result in print problems. Without the ability to measure the EOM how would you know whether a print problem is stemming from an inappropriate EOM rather than the ink, the squeegee pressure, the substrate, and all the other usual suspects who get blamed first?

Experts will tell you that for most textile applications (high density printing being and exception) an EOM of 20% is recommended. That would mean that a 110 thread/inch mesh with a 80-micron thread diameter would print well with approximately 23 microns of emulsion. How can anyone know whether or not they have applied an EOM of 20% with a one-on-one method and no way of measuring it?

If the coat of emulsion is too thin, these things can happen:

  • smearing in the direction of the squeegee stroke;
  • dot gain in the shadow areas;
  • dot loss in the highlight areas;
  • excess ink build-up on the substrate side of the screen;
  • saw-toothing in the print;
  • and fine details closing due to over-exposure if the exposure times were set for a thicker stencil.

If the coat of emulsion is too thick, these things can happen:

  • difficulty in drying;
  • poor ink release from the stencil, or too much ink deposit in cases where the ink does release from the stencil;
  • dot loss or gain as a result of the previous problem;
  • pinholes and possible premature stencil breakdown resulting from under-exposure, if exposure times were set for a thinner stencil.

So, eliminate stencil coating as a suspect in print problems – get a stencil thickness gauge and use it to check every screen before it goes for shooting. Considering the time that can be spent trying to solve print problems and the consequences of those problems in terms of rejects and returns, a few hundred dollars for a stencil thickness gauge seems to be a bargain.

 Any one of the Canada-wide Stanley’s branches can help you with questions about stencil thickness gauges. Call them: Cambridge 1 877 205 9218; Calgary 1 800 661 1553, Edmonton 1 888 424 7446; Richmond 604 873 2451.

Trade shows — an important resource

Trade shows — an important resource

The thumbnail version:

  • The Printing United show is on right now in Las Vegas.
  • If you’re not there, you probably should be.
  • An excerpt from my book explains.

The full version:

In my book, Characters Who Can Make or Break Your Small Business, I use a conversation on an aircraft between two people on their way to a screen printing printing show to discuss the pros and cons of exhibiting and attending trade shows.

From the same chapter, The Trade Show Manager, this two-paragraph excerpt makes the point that trade shows are serious business, and are to be taken seriously as a resource for your shop . . .

“The people who treat trade shows as entertainment and an excuse to take a trip or just get out of the office for a few days—and I’ve known many who do—have lost sight of the fact that a trade show is a serious business event: a serious, intense business event. How serious? Serious enough to convince large companies to spend millions of exhibiting dollars wooing small businesses, year after year.

There will of course be lighter moments. There will be jokes and funny stories, there will be belly laughs as you reminisce with old friends and associates, and there will be parties, dinners, and drinks, but make no mistake, the underlying purpose is serious business.”

Trade shows are an essential aspect of keeping up with the competition. If you’re not at the Printing United show right now, know that some of your competitors are there checking out the latest innovations, gathering ideas, and having their enthusiasm for the industry refreshed.

Long Beach is coming up in January . . .

Securing future sales with thoughtfulness.

Securing future sales with thoughtfulness.

The thumbnail version:

  • People like to do business with people they like.
  • People like people who are likeable.
  • Small acts of thoughtfulness make you likeable.

The full version:

This is not the first time I’ve written about how small acts of thoughtfulness can secure a future sale, and it won’t be the last because it’s such a simple yet powerful concept. It bears revisiting. Regularly.

As I noted in the thumbnail summary above, small acts of thoughtfulness make you likeable, and people like people who are likeable, and people like to do business with people they like. For example, I’ve never met or even spoken with Kathy at Revival Seeds in Nova Scotia, but I like her. And it’s all because she took the trouble and about three seconds to add a thoughtful hand-written note to an invoice for $23.70 for Nova Scotia Lupins. So guess who we’ll be ordering seeds from come the spring? And guess who we’ll recommend in conversations with friends and family about seeds?

It’s a simple, inexpensive, yet powerful concept—thoughtfulness in business. Find ways to apply it in your shop’s dealings.

And as a final note, all the proceeds from the sales of the Nova Scotia Lupin seeds are being donated to the Hurricane Fiona recovery effort. But that’s material for another post on another day about community involvement—also a smart business strategy.

Never mind hacking, what about tracking?

Never mind hacking, what about tracking?

The thumbnail version:

  • We are being tracked online.
  • We should be concerned about it.

The full version: 

An article in the latest weekly newsletter from RGCS of Edinburgh, has an alarming headline, “Forget Hacking, What About Tracking?”

I found the content even more alarming than the headline was hinting it. I cannot adequately summarize the content here other than to list the paragraph titles. I’ve provided the link to the article below and I strongly recommend that you read it. In the meantime, here are the paragraph headings:

  • Why are we being tracked?
  • Why should we be concerned about tracking?
  • Most websites use tracking tools.
  • How are we being tracked?
  • Tracked by mobile apps.
  • How to avoid being tracked.
  • Incognito mode / private browsing.
  • Private browsers.
  • Private extensions for browsers.
  • Will using a VP{N stop you from being tracked?
  • Other privacy tools.

It’s a must-read if you want to understand how vulnerable our digital and internet interaction has rendered us and what you can do to protect yourself and your shop: CLICK HERE.