Setting up a small textile shop — #5 in a series

The thumbnail version:

  • You will have to be able to wash out and reclaim screens.
  • A separate and properly-equipped facility is best but there are temporary measures you can take.
  • There are things you must know about mixing chemicals and drainage

The full version:

You are going to have to have somewhere to wash out freshly-shot screens and to wash reclaimed screens.

Well-established shops have separate rooms equipped with wash-out tanks, power-washers, racks for chemicals, appropriate drainage, ventilation, and so forth. You can think of it as a bathroom for screens that is more commonly referred to as “the swamp”.

Once you have the necessary equipment (washout tank and pressure washer), the mechanics of the “swamp” are pretty straight forward. A less obvious but important aspect is eco-friendliness. This takes into account the types of chemicals you use and how you dispose of them. In most jurisdictions you can’t just flush the chemicals and ink into the public sewer system. You need to be clear on the applicable local bylaws.

Even if you find that you can flush your “swamp” run-off into the public sewer system (perhaps after processing through a settling tank, filtering, or some other such mechanism) you need to be aware of which materials you can and cannot mix in your wash-out system. For instance, I once saw the results of a print shop ignoring a warning that they couldn’t mix Varsol (used as an ink remover) and an SBQ (Styryl Basolium Quarternary) photopolymer one-part emulsion. The Varsol solidified the emulsion until the drainage pipes were completely clogged and had to be torn out and replaced.

A small washout tank.

When you are starting out and a separate and well-equipped “swamp” is not possible, a small stand-alone unit might be a good initial option. But even if this is not possible then there are temporary alternative ways of washing out and reclaiming screens. However, budgeting for at least a washout tank and pressure washer will make your life and production a whole lot easier. A separate, well-equipped “swamp” would of course be better still.

Talk to any of the Stanley’s folk at one of the four branches about your washout and reclaiming options. They can help with the equipment and chemicals you’ll need.