Keep ink and chemicals off your skin.
A recent post on LinkedIn pointed out that 60 percent of liquids (including paste-like products) that come into contact with our skin are absorbed. Even if, like me, you’re not sure how to interpret this number exactly, the fact remains that our skin absorbs stuff. If you’ve ever used a hand cream you’ll know this.
So, why do so many screen printers expose their hands to inks and chemicals? If you don’t wear gloves, you’re absorbing stuff through your skin that’s not good for you, to say the least! It’s a serious matter. Gloves, re-usable and disposable, are cheap at the price when compared with the cost of health problems.
Where is this going?
As local authorities become increasingly sensitive about what goes down the drain and into the municipal water processing system, you may want to consider alternatives to your open-sink screen recovery process. Stanley’s can tell you about dip tanks, closed loop filtering systems, and holding tanks. Do this before you’re forced to or, worse still, incur a fine.
Water-based ink will destroy some regular emulsions!
If you’re fairly new to the textile screen printing industry, you might not yet realize that water-based inks are much more aggressive towards emulsion than plastisol inks are. Standard emulsion for plastisol printing mostly won’t cut it if you’re going to use water-based inks. Talk to Stanley’s about emulsions suitable for water-based printing.
Pick the right-sized dryer but make sure you have trade-in or trade-up options later.
What is one of your challenges in buying a new dryer? Outgrowing it. This is why you need to make sure that the manufacturer has a trade-in or trade-up program. With this assurance you’ll be relieved of the up-front challenge of guessing at future production demands and either over- or under-buying with no recourse.
How’s your maintenance schedule?
Do you know that when you see a great prize-winning print, it’s just the tip of the iceberg? Below it and out of sight lies a secret—proper maintenance of: the press; the exposure unit; the ink mixer; the squeegees; the screen; the coating trough; and a dozen other items of tools and equipment. How good is the maintenance program in your shop?
Do you know that local bylaws about chemicals in the sewer system can change in response to pressure prompted by ecological concerns? This means that you should check occasionally to ensure that your shop is compliant.
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?
Now why has nobody ever told me that?
Do you know that if you’re applying plastisol to a substrate with two strokes, it’s best to make both strokes in the same direction?
A much healthier way to grip a squeegee.
Do you know that there’s an ergonomically friendly manual squeegee that’s much easier to use than the traditional flat wooden or aluminum varieties? It’s called the EZ Grip squeegee and Stanley’s has it. In fact, you can see it working here.
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.
Maintain your manual press.
Discussions about press maintenance usually focus on automatic presses. But manual presses should not be overlooked. Cleaning and proper lubrication will keep a manual press operating at its best and prolong its life. A maintenance schedule will help ensure that it gets done.
Adjust your off-contact for fleece.
A standard T-shirt jersey-knit fabric needs off-contact of about 1/32nd to 1/16th of an inch but fleece fabric (as in sweats and hoodies) needs greater off-contact because of the greater thickness of the fabric. For this type of fabric 1/8th of in inch is more appropriate.
Have you considered curable reducer?
If you have a manual press and you’re finding that your ink is a bit “thick” and tough to pull, a curable reducer may be your solution. A small amount of curable reducer well mixed into the ink will make it more workable.
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.
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.
Frozen emulsion is useless.
Printers are forgetting . . . you can’t leave emulsion in a car or truck for any length of time (such as overnight) in Canada’s sub-zero winter weather. It will freeze and become totally useless.
Check out the EZ Grip squeegee.
Manual printer? Do your hands and arms a favour. Check out the EZ Grip squeegee. It’s simple, it’s light, and it’s genius—much better and much less expensive than a similar metal squeegee on the market.
Keep an eye open for wide format digital textile printing.
Keep an eye open for developments in wide format digital textile printing. Mimaki claims that they’re able to achieve speeds close to screen printing technologies so wide format digital textile printing is now production friendly.
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.
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.”
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.
Considered a rhinestone machine?.
Rhinestones a fashion thing in your neck of the woods? How much do you know about rhinestone machines? They can apply rhinestones directly on to material by ultrasonic welding. You may want to look into this and get a leg up on your competition.
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.
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.
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.
Great prints need great art properly set up.
Even a brilliant artist needs experience in setting up art properly for screen printing in order to produce a high quality print. For great prints you need great art properly set up for printing.
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.
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).
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.
I have no idea . . .
Do you have any idea what these are: BACX; CUPRO; ROICA; ECOTEC; and RE.VERSO?
- Mexican-manufactured automatics;
- New Wilflex/Rutland colours by PolyOne to celebrate the merger;
- Lung diseases caused by aerosol adhesives;
- Different mesh weaves;
- Types of eco-friendly fabric; or
- 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.