So you just got in the New FN-INK™ plastisol ink line. You are excited and are ready to print up some art and see just what the ink can do for you. So, where do you start? What do you need to know about the ink? Do you need to do anything special to the ink? Screen prep? What about cure? Is it low bleed? The following blog will answer all those questions and more.
What is FN-INK™?
FN-INK™ is many things, but it is not everything. FN-INK hits many of the needs that we as printers have for successfully printing t shirts.
- FN-INK™ is low cure - 260°
- FN-INK™ is low bleed when cured at low temps.
- FN-INK™ is High Opacity.
- FN-INK™ prints wet on wet.
- FN-INK™ is creamy and short bodied.
- FN-INK™ is made for you the printer that is tired of paying for high priced plastisol ink.
But more than any of that, FN-INK ™has been made because it is Financially Necessary that this ink line exists.
FN-INK™ is: Low Cure
That's right, not only is FN-INK™ less expensive than our competitors, it's low cure as well. Typically this is an ink property you end up paying more for. But it's all part of this package. Once the entire ink film, alllll the way down to the t-shirt, reaches 260° it is cured. This means a couple of things.
- You can potentially run your dryer faster allowing you to print more shirts per hour.
- You can run your dryer at lower heat settings. This will allow you to save some cash on electricity and potentially keep your shop a bit cooler since you can run your dryer far cooler.
- If you only have a flash unit and you use it for cure, it is now FAR easier to achieve full cure of the ink.
How to test for proper cure
Cure is attained when the ENTIRE ink layer reaches 260°. This means 260° all the way to the bottom of the ink layer. Using a laser gun to read the surface temp can be misleading as you will need to read a surface temp as much as 60°- 80° above what cure temp is. This is due to the rate that plastisol ink absorbs heat, the length of your tunnel, and the thickness of your ink deposit. Thinner ink deposits heat up faster than thick deposits. A good example is printing black ink VS doing a print/flash/print of white ink. White ink will be far thicker and take up to twice as long to reach full cure compared to the thinner black ink deposit. When changing your dryer to low cure temps, do wash testing to ensure your new dryer settings are reaching full cure.
FN-INK™ is: High Opacity
For a Financially Necessary, low cost ink, these inks have a surprising amount of opacity! You can achieve bright colors on darks with a print flash print. As always, not every color is reproducible on dark garments. Some of the more translucent colors like Navy or Fuchsia will have some shirt showing through no matter what. But colors like Golden Yellow, Bright Red, Lt Royal, etc are remarkably bright.
FN-INK™ Does: Wet on Wet Printing
Wait… High opacity, low cure, and wet on wet able? Are you guys making any money off this ink? WOW. Yep, this is a high opacity wet on wet able ink, right out of the bucket.
We recommend 230 mesh screens or higher for the best wet on wet performance. While you can get ok wet on wet performance through 200 mesh, the possibility of laying down too much ink is increased the lower you go in mesh count. At a certain point you are just unable to control your ink deposit well enough.
FN-INK™ is: Low Bleed - Because of Low Cure
Yup, if you are able to keep temperatures low in your dryer and cure temp* closer to 260°, you can keep the dyes in the polyester fabrics from bleeding into your inks. To quickly understand why this happens. Most polyester fabric is dye/temperature set between 270°-300°. What this means is that, when the polyester thread hits that temperature again, the dyes return to a gaseous state and are absorbed by the plastisol inks. This is why there are low bleed inks on the market.
But as stated above, if you can cure your ink below the bleed point of the poly thread, you do not have to worry about dye migration!
*Cure is attained when the ENTIRE ink layer reaches 260°, meaning that the ink is 260° from the top to the bottom of the ink layer. If you are using a laser gun to read the surface temp, this WILL be misleading. Laser temp guns give you a reflective reading. When tested side-by-side with a donut probe, you will see temperature differences as great as 120°-150° early in the cure cycle (the donut probe accurately measures the contact temperature where the crosshairs reside). As you reach the end of the dryer, those temperatures will get closer together. As a direct result – you will need to read a surface temp as little as 60° above what stated cure temp is and as much as 100° depending on how short your dryer tunnel is and how hot your settings are. This is due to a few things:
- The rate that plastisol ink absorbs heat. Some colors will heat up faster than others as they absorb infrared heat waves more readily.
- How hot the ink is when entering the tunnel. Cooler inks will take longer to heat up, thus taking longer to reach cure.
- The thickness of your ink deposit. As we all know, thicker ink deposits take longer to cure than thinner ink deposits. A longer dwell time is needed to reach full-cure through the whole ink layer. Heat/IR waves take time to penetrate and heat up the ink.
- The length of your tunnel. Curing ink is about temperature and time. It takes time for the entire ink layer to heat up and reach cure temp. The faster and hotter you run, the greater your chance to not reach full cure temp at the bottom of the ink layer.
- Cotton garments take longer to heat up compared to polyblends or 100% polyester. This is due to the absorptive nature of cotton. Cotton soaks up and holds onto water. When putting the shirt through the dryer, the dryer will release the water in the cotton fibers, slowing down how fast ink heats up. This process directly relates to how water based ink heats up and reaches cure, just on a smaller scale.
- The quality of your infrared panels. IR Panels are not created equal. Without diving into the deep details, some panels are more efficient in creating heat within the ink layer than others.
When changing your dryer to low cure temps, follow the recommendations and parameters laid out above and do wash testing to ensure your new dryer settings are reaching full cure.
FN-INK™ has: Creamy Ink Consistency
FN-INK™ is a shorter bodied ink which cuts and therefore, shears easily, when an ink knife or a squeegee passes through it.
What this equates to on press is:
- Less dot gain because you can use less pressure to clear the screen
- Greater perceived opacity because of, again, the ability to back off on the pressure needed to clear the screen
- You can print the ink when it's cold and still great a great look.
- The ink is more consistent from beginning to end.
A Well Rounded Financially Necessary Ready For Use ink.
Digital Color Swatch Card (Download)