Here are some of your
most common questions.

Textile Inks

Choose the ink type according to what suits your design or substrate and also based on your project requirement.

Water based inks tend to have a softer hand feel that most often can mimic the texture of the substrate. It can be cured at low temperatures ranging from 110ºC to 130ºC or airdried but this can also mean that it has a tendency to clog on the screen mesh. Water-based prints react slightly during overnight water soaking hence it is good with dry-cleaning. To clean, use water and soap.

Plastisol inks do not clog on screen mesh unless it has been exposed to high temperatures. This also means that plastisol inks require high temperature curing ranging from 120ºC to 170ºC, which can cause dye-migration on poor quality substrates. These kind of textile inks have a thicker print output compared to water-based inks and would require gas for cleaning. On prints, it is good with water soaking hence it reacts during dry-cleaning.

Using heat press machines, Keenworth water-based inks’ average curing temperature ranges from 110ºC to 130ºC with an average curing time ranging from 5 – 10 seconds. The pigment type used for Keenworth water-based inks is the Keentex PRC with an average mesh count of 40T to 120T, depending on the ink being used during printing.

Using heat press machines, Keenworth plastisol inks’ average curing temperature ranges from 120ºC to 170ºC with an average curing time ranging from 5 – 10 seconds. The pigment type used for Keenworth water-based inks is the Keenplas PC with an average mesh count of 50T to 300T.

To reduce viscosity, it is better to use Reducer CT (1% – 2% maximum load) for Arbitex inks. Binder can cause tack, clogging, a thicker hand-feel on print finishes, and gelling especially if it is incompatible with the ink. Binders are best used with Arbisol Series only.

Yes, you can try this formula:

INK BASEFORMULA #1FORMULA #2
Arbitex White40%30%
Arbitex Clear60%70%
TOTAL100%100%

Matte base requires a correct mixture of clear base and/or white base depending on the pigment colors.

Pigment colors with transparent feature (i.e. Lemon Yellow and Blue Sky) would need the support of white base to support its opacity.

Pigment colors with translucent feature (i.e. Red Carmine and Blue Royal) could allow the matte base to sit well.

Pigment colors with high opacity feature (i.e. Black and Blue Navy) works better when mixed with clear base.

Neon pigment is more on the transparent side. It does not work well when mixed in with white or matte base. The neon effect works better on a clear base. Hence, when printing on dark substrates, it is better to do an under base white print. Neon pigment also reacts in high temperature curing, requiring a heavier pigment load with a 20% maximum.

Do not attempt to use inks that are beginning to show signs of spoiling. The finished prints will smell just as bad as the ink and may affect health. Dispose of spoiled ink properly and according to your local government regulation.

Quality pigments have good light fastness and washing fastness. It means, its color shade would stay strong when exposed to several hours of light and stay brilliant when washed several times, except when it is washed with bleach.

Should your pigment shade drastically changes, it means it is of poor quality. Red and blue color shades have a higher tendency to react to light and washing fastness.

Keenworth water-based inks have a shelf-life of at least two (2) years with proper handling and storage.

Keenworth plastisol inks have a longer shelf-life compared to the water-based inks.

All inks, if not properly handled and stored can cause the shelf-life to decrease. Proper handling and storage of inks mean that used ink bases should not be mixed in with an unused ink base. Another way to increase shelf-life of inks is to avoid exposing it to high temperature or heat and to ensure that the caps or lids of the inks are properly covered and shut tightly. Always use clean utensils to stir and to scoop in and out the inks. Certain inks that require Aquagents have a shelf-life of 8 hours while inks that have been added with Fixer MR15 have a 24-hour shelf-life. Make sure to do batch mixing for inks that require Aquagents.

No, for your under base print, it is best to print using white base (i.e. Arbiair White SC, Arbitex White, and Keenplas ST White). Matte bases are translucent and do not have enough opacity to cover a substrate color.

VISCOSITYSAMPLE INKSHAPESQUEEGEE
DUROMETER
Low to
Medium
Arbiair, Arbisol, Arbitex,
and other water based inks
Square/Round profileSoft (50-65)
Medium (70-75)
HighKeenplas SeriesSquare/Bevel profileMedium (70-75)
Hard (80-90)

It is possible to do an over-print of Keenplas inks and an under-print of Arbitex inks, for as long as the print is cured with correct temperature setting and time.

However, it is NOT possible to do an over-print of Arbitex (water base) ink and an under-print of Keenplas (plastisol) ink, even with proper curing. It will only wash off.

Arbikeen Series

Arbitrend Metallic Silver viscosity has a tendency to drop when stored for a long time. It is advisable to add about 1% – 2% of Thickener ASE and to stir well before use.

Yes, you can, for as long as:

  • Mesh tension is stretched high, to evenly stretch mesh opening.
  • Dot size is not too high, preferably spot print.
  • Flooding technique is applied.
  • An insulated foam for low ceiling or direct heat exposure is in place.
  • Medium to hard squeegee durometer is used.
  • Square edge squeegee profile used.
  • Proper pull, angle, pressure, stroke, and speed is applied.
  • Humidity level in the printing area must not be beyond 50%.
  • Exhaust fans, for hot air out and fresh air in, is installed.
  • A propeller fan to push cold air down and pull hot air up is installed.

Pure Arbitex White has more opacity. Mixing Arbitex White with Arbitex Clear reduces the white base opacity.

Unless you are to print with colors on a colored shirt, you can do the following:

Arbitex White: 30% – 40%
Arbitex Clear: 60% – 70%

Yes, you can. To print on a honeycomb substrate, proper printing technique is important. Depending on the design, you may need to do an under base print and ensure to do heat press curing.

Arbisol DS100 is a colorless discharge base. To add color, it requires at least 7% (on basic color) of the water base basic color pigment and a maximum of 10% of the Aquagent 100.

Do a maximum of two coat print, 3 strokes per coating. Print with medium pressure, semi-cure via heat gun or flash cure with the medium temperature setting. Final cure on last color print. Heat press or oven curing at high temperature to allow brilliant color output.

Please ensure to consume the Aquagent mixed base within 8 hours and printed shirt be heat press (final curing) within 8 hours to achieve good color print brilliancy.

Yes, you can, although make sure that the Arbitrend Puff is printed directly on the substrate to avoid print wash off. Puff print can be printed with a top coat using Arbitex Inks, Arbitrend Inks, and the Arbitrans Ink. Correct temperature setting is a must.

Top coating on puff print gives life to your puff print, as a pure puff print when set to heat tends to reduce its color shade.

Puff base must sit directly on the substrate and not on any under base inks or prints. Do a leave-off if needed.

  • Mix Arbitrend Puff with Arbitex Clear base for better color matching.
  • Mixing with Arbitex Matte or Arbitex White is possible.
  • Use less Arbitrend Puff but increase your temperature setting and/or set it at a longer time.

Arbitrans KL works well with 1-2 coats with multiple strokes but you must not add any additive to the base so as not to reduce its adhesion properties when printing on a shirt.

Arbitrans KL stands alone. It will not hold well if it is mixed in with other bases, pigment, or additive. In adding these, poor washing fastness will occur.

In printing on card, or leatherette substrate, you can add a 0.01% pigment in the Arbitrans KL, as it does not go through a wash test.

Arbitrans KL has good adhesion property. A foil paper does not really expire unless it was not stored well. As in any transfer print, washing fastness is poor but may last longer if you heat press it and do a cold peel off the transfer paper then re-heat press again.

Make sure to leave an instruction to do a reverse shirt washing for a longer-lasting transfer print.

73% Arbisol DS100
20% Arbiair White SC
1% Pigment Black
______________________________
94% Total (w/o Aquagent 100)
Then add in 6% of Aquagent 100 if to start printing

In discharge printing, a non-pure dyed shirt can react negatively, giving you a different color output. It is vital to conduct test printing first.

Yes, you can. Keenworth Metallic and Pearlescent inks (Arbitrend and Keenplas Series) do not require mixing of other bases unless you wish to achieve a different color output or you may want to adjust the viscosity. It can be printed without the need for an under base white.

No, Glow-in-the-dark inks need to sit on a white ground substrate, white under base print, pastel or neon color print. Dark ground substrates reject light absorption.

Light ground background absorbs light.

No, it will not change the glow color. Should you wish to add color as a guide, then you can add 0.01% of neon pigment only.

Arbitrend Glow Light Natural requires a light ground shirt to absorb light energy for it to glow. The more coating of the ink base, the more glow it will have.

Arbitrend Glitter inks have coarse-grained glitters, which means it may not go through with higher mesh counts. Use lower mesh counts for printing, around 25-60 mesh count.

Yes, and this is how you do it:

Arbitrend Metallic Silver 50%
Arbitex Clear Black (example) 50%
____________________________________
TOTAL 100%

If you want the shade lighter, you can have more Arbitrend Metallic Silver and less of Arbitex Clear color (of your choice).

The Keenplas inks (plastisol) and the Arbitex Series have a stretchable feature that can print on spandex substrates but be careful during curing (i.e. heat press) on high polyester substrates.

On the first coat, print with heavy pressure. On the second coat, again printed with heavy pressure. On the third coat, print with mid-pressure. Do 2-3 strokes on every coat.

Do not forget to do a wash test prior to mass production.

Keenplas Series

Keenplas is a plastisol ink and it should not clog on your screen. Should you encounter some clogging, the following could be the reasons:

  1. Screen mesh may be too close to your heat gun while drying.
  2. Mesh tension may be too low to allow inks to penetrate well.
  3. Not enough pressure is exerted to allow ink to pass through.
  4. Ink viscosity is too high making manual (hand) printing very difficult.
  5. Mesh used is too high making manual (hand) printing very difficult, especially if the pressure isn’t enough.

PC pigment comes in different viscosity, some colors are easier to mix while other colors are hard to mix. The solution for a difficult pigment to mix is to slowly add in the pigment to a Keenplas base, clear and matte base.

Keenplas is a high viscous plastisol ink base. It needs to be slowly stirred before printing to set its viscosity back to its original state. The more you stir, the softer the ink becomes.

Keenplas inks blend well on a wet-on-wet process.

In flash curing or heat gun curing, ensure each coat is semi-cured only to allow the inks to fuse well, hence avoiding print delamination or wash-off. The last color print is then set to a full cure.

Final curing requires a higher temperature for good adhesion and good washability. Lack of it will result in the print washing off.

You could add 1% – 2% Viscosity Reducer (for plastisol inks) should you find the Keenplas inks heavy to print. You can add 1% – 2% Viscosity Enhancer (for plastisol inks) should you like to thicken the base more, for better opacity. High viscosity inks can lead to better opacity but may have a surface printing effect.

Art Design and Separation

Using the right film depends on the printer type. Do not use bond paper coated with oil as your film paper. The oil can affect your exposure output, especially on half-tone prints. Use Laser Printer Film and tracing paper film (90-95 gsm) for Laser type printers while Inkjet film for Inkjet type printers.

You must create traps because you cannot always expect perfect registration on press. Common trapping on screen printing values ranges from 1/32nd of an inch to 1/8th of an inch. Too small of a trap is ineffective, while too big of a trap will create noticeable overlapping marks, making it overlap.

In doing a 3-point registration mark, you can avoid making mistakes (i.e. reversing film or do an upside down) in attaching the film prior to exposure. Hence, making stencil preparation easier

Half-tone rules:

  1. Art design should be clear and legible from the viewing distance.
  2. The closer the viewer is to the subject, the finer the dots must be. 
    VIEWING DISTANCE DOTS PER INCH
    < 20″ < 90 LPI
    2-3 ft. 46-61 LPI
    3-10 ft. 38-51 LPI
    6-16 ft. 31-46 LPI
    10-30 ft. 31-36 LPI
    > 10-65 ft. < 31 LPI

Typically, CMYK are four color process inks where C stands for CYAN, M for Magenta, Y for Yellow, and K for Black. In screen printing, it means four frames are used and yet more than 16,000 colors are produced.

CMYK printing cannot accurately produce as many colors as our eyes can see. It cannot produce an exact color match but a similar representation of the color can be achieved.

It is a separation process that simulates continuous tone images to create a photorealistic image on dark substrates, where multiple opaque bases are used in printing. The maximum color it could have is 9 colors (White base, red, blue, gold, purple, green, turquoise, gray, and white top)

LPI between 40-90 LPI is good, with angle at 22.5 or 30 degrees. CMYK requires either that the halftones are separated from each other by 30 degrees.

On Frames

Wooden frames are cheaper in cost but it cannot withstand high tension stretch, as it causes inward deflection and is higly prone to moisture absorption. Wooden frames looses tension faster during print production as well. It is best to invest in a quality frame with at least 1.5″ thick frames and correct wood-joint set-up.

Aluminum frames are more costly than wooden frames and are difficult to DIY. However, aluminum frames can withstand high tension stretch without issues of inward deflection nor warping. Moisture absorption will never be a concern. Aluminum Frames tend to lose tension eventually during print production but it is not as fast compared to the wooden frames.

Retensionable frames are ideal for use on tonal print design, it reduces the elasticity of the mesh. Screen mesh can be re-tightened preventing it from unwanted lateral mesh shifting within the frames and can be reused after screen reclaim. A lateral mesh (moving back and forth) movement within the frame causes smears and thinning out of the dots due to a low tension stretch.

On Screen Mesh

  1. It can support stenscil/photo emulsion well.
  2. It can provide edge definition.
  3. It can control ink deposit or ink coverage and color fidelity.
  4. It regulates elasticity, off-contact, and provides regustration accuracy.
  5. It influences heavy production run, as the thread will not run.
    1. Monofilament Mesh:
      Single strand, ideal for half-tone prints as it provides sharper image without the multi-thread interference. It is less prone to clog, ink trapping, and is easier to wash. Tension control is also achieved better.

 

  1. Multifilament Mesh:
    A multi-strand mesh that is more prone to clogging and requires frequent washing. It poses more problem with Organza type mesh.

The original material used in screen printing was silk, hence the name silkscreen. Today, polyester type meshes are greatly used due to its ability to withstand various tests in accuracy, abrasion, moisture absorption, acid resistance, alkaline resistance, and solvent resistance.

Out of 4-types of screen mesh: Silk. Nylon, Polyester, and Metallized Polyester, the latter one shows the best performance in terms of accuracy, abrasion, moisture absorption, acid resistance, alkaline resistance, and solvent resistance. Although it shows good performance, it is also the most expensive and the second best performer goes to polyester mesh.

Mesh count refers to the actual count of the threads per square inch/cm, in both directions. It affects ink deposit, images, and print quality.

For spot design print, you can use as low as 25 mesh up to 300 mesh count or more depending on the type of inks that you can use and the line thickness and font size that you use.

For halftone prints, it is dependent on the dot size (LPI) of your design. The lower the LPI, the lower the mesh count. The higher the LPI, the higher the mesh count. It is also dependent on the type of ink that you will use. Water-based inks, with proper printing technique, can work well up to the minimum of 150-180 mesh. Plastisol inks can work well up to 355 mesh.

However, please bear in mind, for manual printing process, use of high mesh can be stressful as extremely heavy pressure is needed to push the ink through.

Mesh Count Application
25, 40 For coarse glitter inks
60, 80 For specialty inks such as, puff or high-density, fine shimmers, glitters or metallics.
100, 150 For heavy ink deposit on low-detail halftones or spot designs.
160, 180, 200 For printing under base white for a softer overall feel, good medium-sized mesh count for medium-detailed artwork.
230, 250 For low ink deposit, works well for halftone printing, simulated process or CMYK process printing.
305, 355 For very low ink deposit, generally used by very experience printers. Often used for printing 65 LPI or higher halftones for very detailed images. Ideal for use with machine printing.

Thread diameter refers to the actual diameter of fiber used to weave the fabric. It affects the thickness of ink deposits and strength of fabric.

Fine thread = superior print quality, due to less mesh interference

Fine thread = less durable, than heavier thread diameter.

The finer the mesh diameter, the bigger the mesh opening. The finer the mesh count, the smaller the mesh opening. For more ink deposit it is best to use lower mesh count and finer thread diameter. For quality image, use higher mesh count, with finer thread diameter.

Mesh color affects the stencil image quality as it reduces light scatter and aids in higher image quality. It produces a finer detail and halftone prints on finer mesh.

With staple wires, the blade of the staple can cut the mesh causing loose tension of the mesh. Using Frame Adhesives fastens the mesh surface area to the frame, secures it and protects the fiber from loosening up.

A low tension mesh can produce the following:

  1. Increase the screen preparation time and artwork registration.
  2. Cause high off-contact distance, producing less ink deposit, which will cause blemishes, streaks, non-uniformed coating, and pinholes.
  3. Requires excessive squeegee pressure to allow more ink to penetrate to the substrate.
  4. Ink flooding becomes difficult to achieve.
  5. Wiping the substrate side of the screen happens more often in-between prints.
  6. Highly prone to off-registration due to mesh movement, hence the prints will ten to splatter causing ink build-up and a slower production print.
  7. The mesh deflects more on the center of the screen, which tends to make the applied stencil emulsion be thicker in the middle of the screen. This results in more exposure time in order to dry the thicker section of the stencil.

When stretching, do it slowly. Tension levels vary for every mesh count and thread type.

A screen tension level would depend on the mesh count and the thread diameter.

A lower mesh count would require a higher stretch tension. (Example: 110 mesh / 80 micron = 30 N/cm +/-) While a higher mesh count would require a lower stretch tension. (Example: 305 mesh / 35 micron = 16 N/cm +/-)

Expect to incur an average of 25% loss of tension in time with a higher tendency on high mesh counts. Brand new screens are tighter at the beginning of the print run and can get worse at the end of the print run. Hence, print quality is better when new and print quality declines on more prints. Frequent screen reclaiming thereby reduces print quality.

On Screen Preparation

Mesh is stronger and can achieve a more stable tension when stretched perpendicular to the frame. The better aligned the threads are to the frame, the more stable the mesh will be. Stretching on an angle isn’t necessarily bad but it requires a lower tension stretch to avoid screen breakage.

Before RIP programs, screen mesh was stretched to an angle like 22º or 61º to eliminate moiré. Today, we adjust these angles with the artwork positives.

For you to achieve full design details, you have to ensure the following:

  1. Your artwork must have high density in the film.
  2. Your mesh is stretched with high tension.
  3. Your exposure bulb wattage has enough strength for your halftone details.
  4. Your frame is not warped, as your stencil needs to be in full contact with your art film.
  5. Your stencil coating is neither too thin nor too thick.
  6. Your stencil is fully dried before subjecting it to exposure.
  7. Your exposure time is correct. Overexposed stencil will harden and lead to loss of details, while underexposed stencil will make stencil soft and lead to wash off.

Photo Flash SR would need a longer exposure time than the Photo Flash 300E. On average, you need 2x more of your usual exposure time.

The number of coating of your emulsion will depend on the following:

  1. Thread diameter of your screen mesh. Thicker thread diameter means more coating.
  2. The mesh opening. Bigger mesh opening means more coating.
  3. The thin or thick lip of your emulsion (trough) coater. Thin lip means more coating.
  4. Photo emulsion viscosity. Low viscosity means more coating.

Before you even think of coating the stencil, you have to do the following:

  1. Ensure that your mesh has a good tension stretch.
  2. Ensure that you have degreased your mesh well.
  3. Ensure that you have properly mixed in and de-air your emulsion.

To apply:

  1. In a dark room, use a coater 1″ – 2″ bigger than your design. Pour in the de-aired emulsion. Evenly bring the emulsion to the lip of the coater.
  2. The frame in a slightly slanted position, start coating from the bottom up by exerting pressure to push the emulsion to coat the mesh. To scoop out the excess, set the frame to an upright position. Start coating at the substrate side first (i.e. 2x), then twist to coat the squeegee side (i.e. 2x), with the same procedure.
  3. Do the same process to re-coat. The substrate side is always thicker and should be the last coated.
  4. Once done, leave to dry in a clean, dark, dust-free area, with low humidity. Drying time will depend on your drying area and thickness of coating.

It is important to abrade a new screen mesh to help the stencil to adhere well.

You must use Screen Degreaser to remove screen grease or debris prior to emulsion coating. Screen Degreasing helps stencil to adhere well and support the tonal design. It is also avoiding occurrence of unneccesary pinholes. Do not use dishwashing soap as it contains lanolin (oil) content. Abrade with soft brush, degrease with a degreaser.

A stencil that is difficult to develop would mean it has exceeded its exposure time. A stencil that washes off too easily means it lacks its exposure time, or that the stencil is not dry enough when subject to immediate exposure.

Lower mesh count needs more coating at printing and squeegee side, therefore its thicker coats require longer drying time. Hence, longer exposure time.

Exposure time also varies on the mesh diameter and mesh opening (S thread has bigger opening while HD thread size has a smaller opening, despite it having same mesh count).

The mesh tension of your frame, the kind of exposure unit, the wattage, age of bulb, distance, and the design process such as solid or halftones are some factors as well.

  1. CORRECT EXPOSURE TIME controls dot size with a correct round pattern & opening.
  2. OVEREXPOSED STENCIL closes in dots, resulting in less opening area & lost of fine details due to light under-cutting. It also causes poor stencil adhesion due to over-hardening.
  3. UNDEREXPOSED STENCIL will not hold up tones/dot image resulting in poor and irregular opening area. It causes premature stencil breakdown with the squeegee side being soft and low run durability.

It is important to wipe the mesh dry with a CHAMOIS every time the screen is washed. The shiny portions that are blocking the ink from pushing through are called WATER SCUM (dried water trapped in the mesh opening).

Before you start printing, it is vital that you re-exposed your developed stencil, as soon as it is wiped dry. Re-exposing your stencil will help to strengthen your stencil.

Putting in less sensitizer would mean shorter exposure time. Putting too much sensitizer would hardened the stencil, hence it will require longer exposure time. Currently, sensitizer used is of diazo powder or a dual cure.

Ordinary sensitizer is very cheap and uses sodium dichromate, which is toxic and a ban item. It comes in powder form or is sold in a liquid solution.

On Squeegee

RUBBER / CREPE SOLE is made of crude natural rubber used in most shoe sole. It is hard and tough to handle and to control and it has poor abrasion and poor resistance from strong solvent.

It is better to use POLYURETHANE SQUEEGEE, as it is made of synthetic plastic material that can withstand physical and chemical abrasion and has a durometer consistency and profile control needed in achieving ideal screen printing output

Top Grip
  1. To minimize Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (Numbness of fingers and thumbs), avoid doing “two-hand, top grip, pull towards print).
  2. Use a special ergonomic squeegee or pad the handle with foam to allow your hand to hold wider.
Side Grip
  1. Holding the squeegee by the side and pulling it towards you allows you to get good pressure when printing with thick inks.

For more ink deposit, use a ROUND EDGE PROFILE or a SOFT DUROMETER. To produce less ink deposit, use a SQUARE/BEVEL PROFILE or a HARD DUROMETER. A triple durometer squeegee, on the other hand, gives more control especially when the printer tends to exert more pressure while printing.

A wider (width) squeegee handle prevents ink from smudging on your fingers during printing.

On Printing Process

Although heavy, you can use floor tiles as your platen as it is also easy to manage. Floor tiles do not have warping issues when subjected to liquid elements or to heat, however, it is costly. The alternative material for floor tiles would be Marine Wood laminated with STICKWELL adhesive (not Rubber Cement / “rugby”/ cement board adhesive).

If MDF Board is used, use sanding sealer as coating.

When printing multi-color prints on light garments, you generally print from lightest shade to darkest shade or from smallest print area to the largest print area. This sequence with a correct printing process and using the right ink viscosity helps minimize ink build-up on multi-color printing.

Avoid ¼” off-contact especially on a low tension stretched mesh. Build-up on an image edges at the back of the screen means there has been an occurrence of the screen image shifting. This means the mesh or the frame slightly moves back and forth on every print passes.

Some plastisol formulas can be more “tacky” than others, but high tack inks would also build-up elsewhere beyond just the edges of the images. A tight screen will allow you to flood stroke easily and this avoids ink build-up.

A. Line-up screens on a multi-color print with an Integrated Registration System (IRS).

B. Set-up allowances for inks to park and use one artwork with registration marks already present to make the rest of the screens.

C. On final registration set-up, print the outline or main color and then line-up the rest of the screens to the print.

To achieve good printing output:

A. Ensure a high tension stretch mesh.

B. Set the screen to sit slightly (ideally 1/16” or 1/8” or a maximum of ¼”) off the shirt board.

C. Some machine presses have adjustments for this.

D. For manual presses, put a thin piece of cardboard or coins under the edge of the frame.

It is better to put a small amount of ink across and above the artwork on the screen, just enough to make a number of good prints without running dry, this avoids ink to go all-over the squeegee handle.

Putting just enough ink on a screen is easier than to take the excess out later on.

Pull Printing

  1. A standard practice is the pulling of squeegee towards you.
  2. Pulling the squeegee allows you to use your wrist and shoulder force more.

Push Printing:

  1. Pushing the squeegee away from you allows you to easily use your body weight more.
  2. It is a less fatiguing stroke for long jobs.
  3. Pushing stroke works best with thinner inks.

On a too thick ink:

  1. You need to do a lot of squeegee pressure to get the ink through the screen.
  2. An excessive pressure spreads the ink can cause shadowed, uneven prints. Hence, thin your inks if it gets too thick, in order to achieve a great print output.

On printing on dark substrate (i.e. shirts):

  1. When printing on dark shirts with thin inks, do not apply excessive pressure, to avoid ink getting too deep into the garment, making your print duller.
  2. Technique is to apply first stroke with enough pressure, and the second strokes a lighter pressure.
  3. Ensure to follow the correct (medium) speed and (60˚) squeegee angle, the correct squeegee, and other factors.
  1. Ideally, pull the squeegee all the way to the end of the frame and scoop the excess ink up with the squeegee and place it on the back (top) of the frame.
  2. Lift up the squeegee when getting close to the end of the frame and lift up the excess ink, or stop when you pass the image area and lift the screen.
  3. Or do a flood stroke to push the excess ink back to the back of the screen.

Semi-curing via tunnel dryer/flash cure machine/heat gun results to surface drying only meaning the print underneath is still wet. Curing at very high temperatures, especially on polyester garments will cause inks to collapse and will be highly prone to dye-migration. Semi-curing the ink after every-print /coating before final curing will allow the print to stay in shape. It will have a sharp and clean image as opposed to a wet smudged print. On the other hand, an incomplete ink curing will create poor washability, color lost and cracking on your plastisol print.

“Stretching” the print on the shirt to see if it cracks has its limit in checking for cure accuracy of the print.  It is only for “spot checking”. If the print “cracks” during stretching, it is most likely under cured. A more definitive testing methods would be wash testing.

Yes, it is nice to work with a neon CMY process, especially if your design has some neon color requirements.

In printing Neon CMY process, the black color used is a regular process black only.

A frame that is bigger than the platen may fit as long as a screen mesh has been attached to it. The important factor that must always be considered is the size of the design and how it should fit within the section of the platen.

A big design with a corresponding screen frame size must be able to sit on a platen that will fit it for a comfortable and smooth printing. A smaller design can sit on a bigger platen, but the artwork registration may be hit or miss, it is better to have all frame size in general dimensions.

When using a portable platen, it is important that your angle bar is longer than the width of your big frame to support your X-Axis (screw eye) registration.

On a lighter shade substrate, it is possible.

On a dark color substrate, it is possible but it is difficult. This is because your 1 coat, 2 strokes print output would depend on the quality of your substrate (100% comb cotton vs polyester cotton), the kind of inks that is being used, the mesh count, mesh tension, squeegee durometer, squeegee profile, print strokes, angle, pressure, and the pull / push technique.

Also, ink viscosity can affect the print opacity. The higher the ink viscosity, the higher its opacity. This is because the inks sit on the substrate surface only and has not fully penetrated into its thread weave. Hence, setting a too high viscosity ink base can affect the washing fastness, in lieu of its surface hold only.

It is nice to print wet on wet in CMYK process as you allow the dots to blend well and it helps in speeding up your print production.

However, it is important to take note of the following:

– Do not put too much pressure when printing
– When doing flooding technique, do at a 70-80 degree angle without pressure
– A long line table provides natural air flow to semi-cure the inks

However, if you are not accustomed to printing WoW, then it is better to do dry on dry (DoD) technique, than incurring damage print.

The more strokes you apply to your print, the darker is the shade of your print.

The more coats you apply to your print, the glossier and thicker the print become but the less sharp the output will be.

To simplify a high dense print, you need a high dense stencil.
A high dense stencil is very expensive and the number of coatings will determine the thickness of your high dense print. However, a high dense stencil would require at least 3000 wattages of exposure unit to develop.

With the use of a regular stencil to print high dense, you would need to do several coatings with several strokes. And yet, it will not give a good high-dense stencil print.

With high-dense print, you would need a hard square edge squeegee and a longer curing time and higher temperature.

Flash curing is faster than heat gun curing. Final curing is best done with a conveyor oven. Should you use a heat press machine, you must do an off contact curing, meaning do not lock in the press.

Plastisol inks do not dry up, unless it is exposed to heat. Heat gun curing or flash curing provides surface curing only. Hence, it is important to do final curing using heat press machine or better a conveyor oven, at a recommended temperature setting. Just watch out for the dye migration problem that can occur due to high temperature curing.

Should you fail to do final curing on printing plastisol inks, the print will be washed off when washed. Cracks will occur when stretched.

Discharge print works better on spot or solid print. Half tone printing is possible, for as long as it is not a CMYK process which requires dot blending.

  • Using a warped frame.
  • A loose tension mesh.
  • An over-pigment base.
  • A very low viscosity base.
  • Too many strokes with heavy print.
  • Wrong angle, speed, and pressure.
  • 1st coating, heavy pressure, 1-3 strokes, same direction, and semi-curing.
  • 2nd coating, medium pressure, 1-3 strokes, same direction, and semi-curing.
  • 3rd coating, medium pressure, 1-3 strokes, same direction, and semi-curing.
  • Lastly, subject to heat press machine, and heat conveyor.
  • Keep the ink containers, squeegee, and the screen frame edges clean.
  • Scoop out the inks carefully from the screen.
  • Do not rush print carelessly.
  • Clean as you go.

When choosing inks, find out the pros and cons of all inks. Consider the printability, the brilliancy, the hand-feel, the ease in curing, clean up, and the handling. Inks are either water-based or oil-based plastisol.

Choose quality inks. The ink consumption cost is a lot less over the cost of the substrate, the cost of production (i.e. electricity, manpower, etc).

Check Ink Compatibility against the substrate to be used. The Substrate can be cotton, sports jersey, spandex, towels, or synthetic substrate.

Should the ink base need adjustment, always stir the ink base first, then:

  1. Thin the ink base with a minimal (1%-2%) amount of a reducer.
  2. Increase the viscosity with a minimal amount of thickener.
  3. Anything added in excess can affect the ink quality.

The best adjustment is to:

  1. Mixed in a fresh batch of your ink base.
  2. The first color print (the lightest or the smallest) can be thinned some more to allow ink penetration in the garment.
  3. If black is the last color print, do not thin too much to avoid color blending.

Ink consumption will depend on the size of your design, solid or a halftone print, as well as the thickness of your stencil coating, number of strokes and number of coats when printing.

On an average, a spot or solid print for an A4 size design can consume 10-15 grams per color. On half tones print, it can be at 3-5 grams.

Water base pigment contains water and can not be mixed in with oil base plastisol.

Plastisol inks require a PC Pigment.

100 mesh may be too low for a spot design. It can cause a saw-tooth print. For vinyl or nylon inks (solvent inks), a higher mesh is better. 150 mesh for spot design, 180 mesh and above on halftones prints (in accordance with your LPI setting). Do high tension stretch so that the mesh opening will be evenly opened.

In printing solvent inks, you need to exert pressure and do flooding to prevent clogging. You must do an off contact print as well.

There could be multiple reasons, either your screen tension is low or the table adhesive you applied on the platen is not enough.

In printing spot design, it is very important to ensure that the previous coating is dry, before printing the next coat.

You may also check your mesh tension. It may be low, hence your mesh opening is uneven.

You may also have an issue with your platen, it may be damaged, if not dirty, hence you need to clean it.

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