By now you’ve all heard of or gotten your hands on FN-INK™. It’s a low-cure plastisol ink that prints like a dream and doesn’t hurt your wallet. All inks are different, so using FN-INK™ might take a little bit of experimenting. Got questions? In this blog, we’ll answer five most commonly asked questions about FN-INK™.
Photo by Press or Dye
QUESTION 1: WHAT IS LOW-CURE INK?
A low cure ink cures at a low temperature. FN-INK™ cures at 260℉. What printers may not realize, though, is that the entire ink layer needs to reach that temperature in order to fully cure.
There are a few ways to check if your ink has reached cure temp all the way through. One of the most popular ways is with a laser temperature gun. While they work, they don’t produce an accurate internal reading. The laser gun displays a reflective surface reading. This means that the gun is gauging the temperature of the surface layer of ink. It cannot reach the bottom layer of ink, and the temperature reading can fluctuate quite a bit. Make sure to stay as still as possible when you use the laser temp gun. That way, it will stay in one place and get a more accurate reading. The reading will fluctuate either way, but by staying still you can minimize fluctuation.
DOES LOW-CURE MEAN LOW-BLEED?
Low-cure inks are not necessarily low-bleed. Bleed, also called dye migration, is when dyes from the shirt bleed into the ink (we’ll talk about bleeding and dye migration later). Using a low-bleed ink will help to mitigate dye migration issues. A low-cure ink can potentially lower the risk of your design bleeding as well.
When a shirt is manufactured, the dye in the garment is heat set at a specific temperature (say 300℉). Once it’s set, that temperature becomes the “gas point.” This basically means that if you heat up that shirt to the gas point temperature (300℉), the dye in the fabric will begin to migrate into the ink from your print. Because low-cure inks cure at a lower temperature than the gas point of a shirt, they are less likely to bleed.
FN-INK™ is not a low-bleed plastisol ink, but because it is a low-cure ink, it’s less likely to experience bleeding. When you cure FN-INK™, you only need to heat the ink to 260℉. If the shirt has a gas point of 300℉, you won’t experience dye migration.
Photo by Salt & Pine Co.
QUESTION 2: WHY IS MY INK SO TACKY?
Tacky ink is usually due to either over-flashing or under-flashing. Figuring out which flashing issue you’re having takes a little bit of experimentation. There’s a test you can perform on your ink to determine if you’re under-flashing or over-flashing.
THE TACKY FLASH TEST
If you notice your ink is tacky, pause for a moment to wait for the ink to cool down. Once the ink is cooled, put your finger on it. If the print is wet, you’re under-flashing. If it’s dry, you’re over-flashing. When you overflash ink, it can become both a liquid and solid at the same time, and will stick to the back of the next screen.
To solve under- and over-flashing problems, simply move your flash around. If you’re over-flashing, raise the flash dryer a bit farther away from your platen. If you’re under-flashing, move it closer to the platen. You can also solve this problem by changing flash times. Flash longer for under-flashing, shorter for over-flashing.
QUESTION 3: WHY DOES INK BUILD UP ON THE BACK OF MY SCREEN WHEN PRINTING WET-ON-WET?
First of all, make sure the inks you’re using are formulated for wet-on-wet printing. FN-INK™ is formulated for wet-on-wet printing. Also check that you’re using the proper technique when printing wet-on-wet: choosing the right squeegee durometer and mesh count are important.
If you’re following all suggestions but still experiencing ink buildup on the back of your screens when printing wet-on-wet, add an extender base or clear base to extend the life of your wet-on-wet print jobs.
QUESTION 4: WHY DOES FN-INK™ CLIMB MY SQUEEGEE?
Plastisol inks can either be long-bodied or short-bodied. Think of long-bodied inks like honey and short-bodied inks like icing. If you pour honey out of a jar or bottle, it flows more easily than if you were to pour icing out of a jar. But long-bodied inks aren’t runnier: Because they have a longer body, they tend to be affected by gravity a little more than short-bodied inks.
FN-INK™ is a short-bodied ink, so it doesn’t easily run down the screen. Instead, it builds up on your squeegee over time. A great way to get ahead of this issue is to put more ink on the screen. When you flood and print, there will be more weight in front of the squeegee blade, which will drag the ink down and keep it from climbing the squeegee. If you’re doing long runs and notice that the ink is building up on the squeegee, flex the blade forward a couple of times. Allowing the blade to touch the screen with a couple quick flexes will transfer the built up ink from the squeegee to the screen.
Photo by Golden Press Studio
QUESTION 5: WHY IS MY INK CRACKING?
Before we answer this question, let’s back up a bit. Ink can either crack or split. Ink layer splitting is when the ink and garment have been stretched beyond normal wear and tear. If you yank on the shirt with all your strength, the ink layer will probably split in the same direction as the fibers of the shirt. Don’t be alarmed if your ink splits. In the normal lifespan of a shirt, this splitting won’t happen.
Ink cracking, however, is when the ink has not been properly cured all the way through. The ink cracks, much like the desert floor during a drought or a shattered windshield. If your ink cracks, it is undercured. Experiment with your curing times and temperatures to get it just right. A wash test is also the best way to determine if you have either cured or under-cured your ink layer.
RELATED: ENSURING PROPER INK CURING
FN-INK™ is creamy, ready-to-use, and great for any size shop. Whether you buy pints or 5-gallon buckets of ink, knowing best practices and tips to getting the most from your ink will help your prints turn out perfect every time.