Printing white ink on a dark garment is not a simple task. Screen printing genius Colin Huggins goes over best practices for printing white plastisol ink on a black shirt. Got a notebook and pencil handy? Right, let's learn how to print white ink on a dark garment and make the print as bright and clean as possible.
THE SET UP
For printing white ink, you'll want to use a screen with a 156/157 mesh count. In the video, Colin's using an Eco Frame that has 157 Hi-Dro mesh. For white ink, he's printing with FN-INK™, which is a plastisol ink. You'll need a flash dryer like a Ryo Flash Dryer. Lastly, you'll need shirts! He'll be printing on a District Made DT104 from SanMar.
First step, warm up the platen. Place the platen (with the shirt on it) under the flash dryer and let the platen hit about 120°. By warming up the platen, the heat will transmit to the ink, making it easier to print. Remember, preheating a shirt causes the moisture in the shirt to evaporate, which fluffs up the fibers a little. We'll address how to fix these fluffy fibers in a bit.
Next step, printing! Flood the screen and print. If you're using Hi-Dro mesh (aka thin thread), use light press to clear the ink through the screen. If you're using standard mesh, you'll have to use more pressure. Flood and print again.
Now, send that platen over to your flash. Keep it under the flash long enough for it to gel. You want the ink to be soft and pliable. Different factors like how warm your platen and ink are will dictate how long it takes to flash them. You'll have to test to determine how long it needs to be under the flash for the ink to gel.
Once the ink has gelled, it's time to use the smoothing screen.
A smoothing screen mattes down the fibers of the shirt. Smoothing the print helps boost the vibrancy of the white ink. There are a few routes you can take to get a smoothing screen. First, you could purchase a Heat Resistant Non-Stick Sheet and a roller squeegee. If you're a DIY person, all you need to do is grab either a 200 or 230 mesh screen, coat the screen with emulsion, expose it without any imagery on it, and place it on the press as a blank screen. You're going to need a clear lubricant like Curable Reducer.
When using the smoothing screen, you'll want to use enough pressure to flatten the fibers, but not too much where you're jamming it in.
Flood and print one more layer of ink. Lastly, it's time to cure it. When removing the shirt from the platen, make sure to pull the bottom up first and then pull from the top. The goal is to avoid distorting the image. Run the shirt through the conveyor dryer where it hits cure temp. If you're using a flash to cure garments, learn about the techniques to ensure the ink reaches the cure temp properly.
There you have it. Now you know how to print white plastisol ink on a dark garment that'll result in bright, clean, and flat white prints. As always, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out. We're here to help! Call 1-800-314-6390 or email email@example.com.