When taping platens and applying adhesive, every screen printer has a couple of options. You could tape your platens with regular platen tape and then apply adhesive, or use dual tack platen tape and knock the process out in one step. So which method is better? Are there instances where you should use one method over the other? Strap in, we’re about to answer your questions.
WHAT IS DUAL-TACK PLATEN TAPE?
Dual tack platen tape is a type of platen tape that’s sticky on both sides. One side applies to the platen, while the other side is used as an adhesive for screen printing t-shirts and other garments. Printers who choose this type of tape don’t need to apply any adhesive. Simply peel off the backing and start loading shirts. The adhesive can also be re-activated by wiping the platen tape with a wet sponge.
Dual tack platen tape works fantastic for shops printing 100% cotton garments. It reduces the need to reapply adhesive, although printers will still need to scrub lint off the platen like you normally would.
The best part of using dual-tack platen tape is that once you apply the tape, you can get right to printing. There’s no need to apply adhesive since it’s already included. You can go from applying platen tape to loading a shirt in no time.
WHAT IS WATER-BASED PALLET ADHESIVE?
Water-based pallet adhesive is a popular liquid adhesive for many screen print shops. Because it’s a liquid adhesive, there’s little to no mess during application. Unlike a spray adhesive, the water-based adhesive won’t get on everything during application. Simply pour some adhesive onto the platen, swipe it evenly around with a cleanup card, and rotate it under the flash dryer to get it tacky.
Reactivating adhesive is much less wasteful than reapplying it. With water-based adhesive, it’s easy. Scrub off the lint buildup on the platen, spritz the platen with a bit of water, and send it under the flash to re-tack the glue. Best of all, the adhesive won’t leave any residue on the garments you’re printing.
SO WHICH IS BETTER?
The “which is better” argument in screen printing usually comes down to an individual shop’s process and needs. Let’s break it down:
WHEN TO USE DUAL-TACK PLATEN TAPE
As we mentioned before, dual-tack platen tape works best with 100% cotton garments. Shirts like 50/50 blends or tri-blends have a specific coating on them that won’t adhere to the platen and adhesive as well as 100% cotton garments will. High-Solids Acrylic (HSA) water-based inks or discharge inks can also interfere with the adhesive on the tape.
What about printing hoodies? Fleece is a tricky material to keep stuck down to a platen. Sadly, dual-tack platen tape only works for a couple of hoodies before you’ll have to re-tack the adhesive.
To sum it up: printers choosing 100% cotton garments will love dual-tack platen tape.
WHEN TO USE WATER-BASED PALLET ADHESIVE
Printers who use water-based ink should use water-based pallet adhesive. Besides the fact that many water-based printers choose that type of ink for its decreased environmental impact, water-based ink works great on platens with water-based pallet adhesive. Blended garments also don’t have a problem adhering to the water-based adhesive.
Can you use it to print hoodies? Some say yes, and some say no. Generally, web spray is your best bet to keep that fleece stuck down to the platen. However, many shops (like Andrew Boyd from Boyd Creative Print Shop) use it for everything, with hoodies included
“I double up my layer [of adhesive],” Andrew said. “I’ll put the first layer down and then run it under the flash. Then I’ll do a second layer [of adhesive] then run my hoodies.”
PRICE POINT COMPARISON
Still struggling to determine which type of platen tape & adhesive combo works best for you? Maybe it’s time to consider the budget. Here’s a breakdown of the costs for both options.
Let’s start with dual-tack platen tape. One roll of the tape/adhesive combo is approximately $78 USD and is 36 yards long. Standard platen tape plus water-based pallet adhesive may seem more expensive upfront but will get your shop through more jobs.
A quart of water-based adhesive is $30 USD, and a standard 100-yard roll of platen tape is about $70 USD. That brings the total to approximately $100 USD. While the dollar sign might be bigger, the roll of tape is almost 3 times longer, meaning you’ll get more bang for your buck.
Both dual tack and standard platen tape have premium options, and there’s a larger size of water-based adhesive too. If you discover you prefer one option over the other, choose the premium tape to get the most yardage out of your purchase.
Here’s a crazy suggestion: use a hybrid approach. Most shops print on a variety of garments. Say your shop prints 75% blended garments, but 25% of the time you’re printing on 100% cotton garments. Use dual-tack platen tape for the jobs with cotton shirts and save yourself some time applying adhesive. Then, when the next water-based or tri-blend job comes around, use standard platen tape and water-based adhesive. It all depends on how your shop operates.