Are you looking to introduce a little bit of shine to your prints? You don’t want it to be in-your-face shiny, but maybe you want the print to have a little shimmer. If this sounds like what you’re looking for, meet FN-INK™ Pearl. This specialty ink is perfect for adding a little shine or a pearlescent effect to prints. As with any specialty ink, there are best practices to follow to get the most out of the ink. Let’s learn how to use the pearl ink to get mesmerizing prints.
WHY SHOULD YOU USE FN-INK™ PEARL
FN-INK™ Pearl is for printers looking for some shine, but not the glitz and sparkle of a silver or gold effect. Say you want to print a marble statue on a shirt. You want it to look as close to the real thing as possible – glistening, but not sparkly. You’ll want to use FN-INK™ Pearl to get the job done.
So how do you print pearl so it truly shines? Let’s find out.
MAKING PEARL SHINE
There are a few ways to make FN-INK™ Pearl stand out. Let’s talk about the different ways you can print it to get the best pearlescent effects.
Direct-to-fabric or over a base: what’s the best method for FN-INK™ Pearl? While it’s possible to print it directly to fabric, it won’t produce a smooth finish. The rough texture of the garment and shirt fibers will poke through the print, hindering the shimmering effect of the pearl ink. To let that pearl shine, you need to matte down those shirt fibers with a smooth ink deposit like an underbase or another color.
Alright, it’s clear that FN-INK ™ Pearl performs best when printed over any smooth base. There are a few different bases you can use to get the most out of this ink. You can print it over a base white, a clear base, or another color, depending on the print you’re trying to achieve.
TOOLS & TECHNIQUES
To get FN-INK ™ Pearl to truly shine, you’ll want to create a paper-smooth base. For best results, use a smoothing screen. If you’re using an automatic press, use an in-head iron after flashing the underbase to ensure all shirt fibers are flattened into the ink layer. The smoother the print surface, the better the pearlescence effect will be.
Use a 70 durometer or a 65/90/65 squeegee blade when printing FN-INK™ Pearl. You want an even print with enough flake deposit. Using a blade that is too soft will not properly shear the ink while using a squeegee with a stiffer, or harder blade will result in a thin ink deposit. A squeegee in the middle will output an even, consistent deposit.
When possible, do a flood print. The flood stroke will pre-fill the stencil and make it easier to fully clear the ink from the screen, and you’ll have a smoother ink deposit.
This ink looks the best when shown in brightly lit areas. You’ll be able to see some shimmer in more dimly-lit areas, but the pearl flake really shines best in the light. If you’re looking for an ink that will sparkle on its own—without the use of an underbase—check out FN-INK™ Silver or FN-INK™ Gold.
ADDING COLOR TO FN-INK™ PEARL
Adding color to FN-INK™ Pearl is a great way to get even more out of the shimmer effect. Adding too much of a color, though, will cover the pearl pigment, which will reduce or even eliminate the pearl effect. Also, specific colors like white, black, or inks with a lot of white or black in them will cover the pearl flake after even a small addition of color.
Also, not all colors will look the best when mixed with pearl. As always, do a print test to confirm you like the look of it before going into production. Pastel shades will be the easiest to work with since they’ll allow the pearl flake to shine through the most. It is recommended to add 5% - 20% of FN-INK™ color to FN-INK™ Pearl. Play around with it to discover what looks best for the job you’re working on.
MODIFYING FN-INK™ PEARL
The ink is ready to print right out of the container, no modification is necessary. If desired, you can modify it with a curable reducer at up to 5% by weight. If a greater stretch is required for troublesome garments, add FN-INK™ Stretch starting at 5%. Add more if the greater stretch is desired.
CURING FN-INK™ PEARL
Even though FN-INK™ Pearl is a low cure ink, the flake in the ink reflects heat, which increases the time it takes to fully cure the ink. As a result, you will need to either increase your dwell time (retention time in the conveyor dryer) or increase the temp you cure at. After curing, perform a wash test. If you notice that the other inks are fully cured but the FN-INK™ Pearl is having some issues in the wash (parts of the image are washing out, ink is cracking, etc.), then the pearl ink did not reach full cure. Print another test print and either increase dwell time or temp and perform another wash test until you find the best settings for the job.
FN-INK™ Pearl is a fantastic way to add a subtle, shimmer effect to prints. It can take a drab print and turn it into a bright, stunning work of art. Unlock specialty printing today with FN-INK™ Pearl.