Temperatures in screen print shops can get uncomfortable. Whether you’re sweating in the summer or shivering in the winter, controlling the temperature in your shop makes a big difference. There are plenty of ways to keep your shop’s temperature comfortable, from venting conveyor dryers to simply opening a window. Let’s dive in.
WHY DO I WANT TO CONTROL TEMPERATURE?
Many screen printers print out of a small space, like a garage or spare room. These spaces may have temperature control. Chances are, though, a garage doesn’t come with air conditioning. This means that screen printers can experience extremely hot and cold weather as the seasons change. Besides bundling up in the winter and downing gallons of water in the summer, there are a couple of reasons controlling shop temperature is important.
Take water-based ink, for example. If your shop is in a dry climate, water-based ink will be hard to print within a shop that can’t regulate humidity. Water-based ink evaporates quickly and can dry on the screens if you take a coffee break. Now add hot weather to that equation. Water evaporates quicker in heat. Printing with water-based ink during the summer is difficult, especially if your shop’s temperature soars during the day.
Now take the other side of the equation: winter temperatures. You might be fine with printing in a snowsuit. Your ink might not be happy about the cold temperatures. Plastisol ink prints best in temperatures above 75°F. If you can see your breath in your print shop, you’ll struggle to get a creamy print. You’ll have to work a lot harder to keep the ink at production temperature.
Controlling the temperature in your shop is important, and not just for your personal comfort. How do you do it? Here are three methods for controlling shop temperatures.
STEP 1: GENERAL TEMPERATURE CONTROL
Air conditioning is a wonderful thing in hot months. There are a few ways to include A/C in your shop. The best method is to invest in a Ductless Mini Split unit. These units feature air conditioning and heat. They’re perfect for controlling the temperature in your shop during all months of the year. Small shops especially will notice a big difference. As a bonus, this unit can also help control the humidity of the space. Print that water-based ink!
Can’t afford A/C? A swamp cooler may be a more affordable option. Swamp coolers work by drawing warm air out of a space through wet cooler pads, which cool the air. These work best in warm, dry climates.
Another way to cool space is to open some windows and doors in the summer. An open window, door, or fan blowing can help create some airflow in your shop and cool everything down. Make sure the airflow isn’t affecting the flash dryer’s consistency.
In the winter, the heat from the flash dryer or conveyor dryer may be enough to keep the shop at a comfortable temperature. If not, invest in a heater. Even a small one at your print station will help you out. Plastisol ink will be a little thicker in the winter. Take extra time to modulate the ink and warm it up so you can crank out jobs and then relax under a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa.
STEP 2: CONTROL CONVEYOR HEAT
All dryers produce heat. Conveyor dryers especially generate a ton of heat, which can quickly make a shop's temperature unbearable. The heating element itself isn’t the only thing creating heat. The ventilation from the dryer can heat up a shop quickly.
To combat this, vent the conveyor dryer from the shop. While the ventilation from electric dryers isn’t harmful (depending on what you’re putting through the dryer), it generates a ton of heat. Venting the dryer out through a window, the ceiling or any other space will help control the shop’s temperature.
PSA: If your shop has a gas dryer, please vent it for your own health and safety!
STEP 3: CHECK OUT YOUR DOORS AND WINDOWS
The last step in creating a temperature-controlled shop is to check for a draft escaping from doors and windows. It’s no secret that old windows and doors can let in hot air during the summer and cold air in the winter. If your shop has drafty windows or doors, It might be time to invest in an upgrade.
Investing in thick, insulated doors and windows will help keep the weather out of your shop. If your windows and door aren’t old but are still letting in hot and cold air, they may not be sealed correctly. Printing in a garage? Check out your garage door. Replacing windows and doors is an investment, but can keep your shop at a comfortable temperature and reduce your heating and A/C bills in the long run.
Keeping a shop temperature-controlled can be tricky, but it is worth it in the long run. No matter the size of your shop or where it’s located, make sure you’re doing your best to keep your shop up to code and temperature controlled.