Efficient reclaim is important. The goal when reclaiming screens is to accomplish as much as possible in as little time as possible, so you can get back to printing. It’s handy to have your system in place and to have the proper equipment and chemistry to get it done quickly. Let’s talk about how printers can streamline their reclaim processes, from assessing your current setup to troubleshooting issues and more.
ASSESS YOUR CURRENT RECLAIM PROCESS
First, let’s look at your current reclaim process. Walk around your space. What obvious upgrades can be made that will help increase your reclaim speed or production? There are a couple of upgrades that most print shops make to increase productivity: a dunk tank and a pressure washer.
A pressure washer blasts emulsion away, and can make the reclaim process so much faster. You’ll need less elbow grease and spend less time scrubbing with a scrub brush. A hose with high pressure can work, but for shops that go through many screens a week — or even a few per day — using a pressure washer makes a huge difference.
Using a dunk tank takes away the elbow grease aspect of reclaiming screens. Simply dip the screen in a couple of times, or set up to 6 screens in a dunk tank for about 30 seconds. The emulsion will break down and will be easy to pressure wash off the screen.
These two solutions will save printers a ton of time. But there are a couple more ways printers can speed up the reclaim process. One of those is the chemistry used. Screen printers may choose from a few options when it comes to reclaiming chemistry. Industrial chemistry gets the job done quickly, so you can get back to what you love: pulling a squeegee. Products like concentrated emulsion remover and multi-purpose ink, stain & haze remover work quickly and take steps out of your process.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT RECLAIM CHEMISTRY
There are lots of different reclaim chemistry options available, so how do you choose which is best for you? For shops reclaiming tons of screens, it’s important to be efficient and quick.
Fast chemistry like Easiway works quickly to break down emulsion & ink, leaving your screens sparkling with minimal time spent scrubbing or power washing. With powerful chemistry, you can reclaim screens fast, but there are some extra safety tips you’ll need to follow to make sure you and your employees stay healthy.
First up, wear protective gear. Protect your eyes, face, hands, and body when handling chemicals. Always wash thoroughly after using reclaim chemicals. Seek medical help if the chemicals irritate your skin.
For smaller print shops, using fast chemistry isn’t necessarily needed. If you’re reclaiming screens in your bathroom or a small, residential space, friendlier chemistry like Sgreen® will benefit your shop.
OPTIMAL RECLAIMING TECHNIQUES
So you’ve decided to use industrial chemistry to reclaim that stack of screens sitting next to your washout booth. You’re wearing a rubber apron, gloves, and safety glasses. Now, it’s time to reclaim some screens. Here’s a step-by-step guide to effective screen cleaning methods.
TIME-SAVING HACKS FOR SCREEN RECLAMATION
As we’ve mentioned before, a dip tank is a huge help for printers looking for increased efficiency in their reclaim process. While emulsion remover can be used in a dip tank, a dedicated dip tank solution is best for quick reclaim. Dip tank solution is specifically formulated for use in a dip tank, and will work harder to remove emulsion without any elbow grease needed.
Another reclaim tip is to get a washout booth with a backlight. The backlight makes it easier for printers to see the emulsion and haze left over on the screen during reclaim. Some booths come outfitted with a backlight, but printers can either install a ready-made backlight or create their own with a quick trip to the hardware store.
This may seem obvious, but it’s helpful to have a good screen reclaim flow. The washout booth, dunk tank, and drying rack or cabinet should all be within easy reach of each other. The last thing you want to do is wander around your space because the washout booth and drying rack are on opposite ends of the room.
If you’re reclaiming a lot of screens, set up a “reclaim day” to spend reclaiming all the screens you need that week, or hire an employee to handle that aspect of the job so you can focus on other things.
TROUBLESHOOTING COMMON RECLAIMING ISSUES
Everyone struggles with screen reclaim at some point in their journey. Here are some common reclaim issues and how to troubleshoot them.
#1: EMULSION STUCK IN THE SCREEN
One of the most frustrating issues in screen reclamation is when the emulsion remains stuck despite scrubbing and rinsing. There are a few possible reasons for this problem, with overexposed emulsion being a common culprit. Underexposed screens lead to improper emulsion removal during the reclaiming process. To avoid this, you should consider using a step wedge grayscale calculator to determine the ideal exposure times.
A perfect exposure to step 7 on the grayscale will yield the best results for emulsion removal. Also, consider using post-exposed screens as they tend to have fewer reclaim issues. If you've used an emulsion hardener on the screen, it becomes permanent and cannot be reclaimed.
To improve emulsion removal during reclamation, try the following tips:
- Dial in exposure times accurately.
- Invest in a power washer, if possible, to facilitate the process.
- Consider using a dunk tank to help strip the emulsion before using the pressure washer.
- Reclaim screens soon after their use to prevent the emulsion from drying up and getting permanently stuck.
#2: GHOST IMAGES
Ghost images refer to residual images that remain on the screen even after reclamation. Although they might sound spooky, getting rid of them is relatively simple. You can use a dehazer, a product designed to remove these ghost images effectively. Alternatively, a magic eraser can also be used to de-ghost the screen and ensure a clean slate for your next print job.
#3: FISHEYES AFTER RECLAIM
If you notice that water isn't cascading like a sheet or the emulsion isn't coating the screen properly after reclamation, the issue might be due to improper degreasing. To resolve this problem, it's crucial to degrease your screen correctly. Using a dual-action product like Sgreen Stuff or a specific degreaser at the end of the reclaiming process is highly recommended.
Ensure that you rinse the degreaser thoroughly to prevent any residue that could lead to fisheye formation during your next printing session.
Streamlining the reclaim process is super important for an effective shop that can run at full speed. With Easiway cleaning chemistry, reclaiming screens becomes even quicker. Check out reclaim chemistry and see if it’s right for your shop.