How To Ensure A Proper Cure
Report of an Article created by Ryonet, for Impressions.
Having a proper cure with the ink used in your screen printed designs is critical for creating a quality print. But there are many more considerations to proper curing than just laying a shirt on the dryer belt and letting the generated heat do all the work. There are even a few important factors that must be remembered before you start the printing process.
Remember that curing occurs when the entire ink film reaches 320°F to 325°F. With the help of the following tips and tricks, you’ll be achieving the perfect cure in no time:
• Storage: Take care to store your ink at room temperature. If ink is not room temperature, bring it to that level before using it. Mixing ink thoroughly also is an important step, as this will allow the ink to modulate — reaching the intended consistency, which will ensure proper flow through your screen mesh.
• Flash Dryers vs. Conveyor Dryers: A flash dryer isn’t the best method for curing, but it will work if you are just starting out and don’t have a conveyor. Place the dryer directly over the garment, but make sure you also remove the garment from the pallet.
When using a conveyor dryer, make sure to check the ink temperature while the garment is traveling inside the conveyor. Increasing the belt speed or lowering the temperature are both simple ways to adjust the ink temperature as necessary.
• Useful Accessories: Check the conveyor temperature with a doughnut probe, a device that sits directly on your conveyor belt and rides through like garments do, providing a thorough temperature read of the unit. This will ensure your dryer is at the correct temperature.
You also can check ink temperature with a laser temperature gun. Though not as accurate as a doughnut probe, a laser temperature gun will measure the temperature of your ink’s surface. This check should take place while the shirt is still under the heat source.
• Perform a Stretch Test: Stretch the garment in areas of ink application. When properly cured, the ink will not break/crack or flake off. This is only suggested for areas with a thicker application of ink.
• Perform an Abrasion Test: This checks the curing properties of the ink’s top layer. Simply take a rag or section of the garment and rub it over the ink. If the ink is not cured well, the rag will not come out clean.
• Perform a Wash Test: Finally, launder your garment using hot water and detergent. This testing process usually is recommended by ink manufacturers as the ideal way to be ensure your ink is 100% cured.
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