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Screenprinting 101, Part IV
By John Benedetto
If you have been reading this series of articles, I want to personally thank you. It has been a fun experience writing for you. I also realized it was good for me to write this stuff down. Even a experienced screenprinter should get back to basics once in awhile.
In this last article we will be discussing, testing to see if a garment is cured, ink clean up, screen reclaiming, pricing and other inks.
Testing if the Garment is cured
This is the age-old problem. Have you ever purchased a T-shirt on vacation and it looks great until the first time you washed it? Part, if not all, of the print washed out. How does one test a garment?
Curing a garment that has a plastisol print applied is a matter of correct temperature. A garment may look cured and on the surface feel cured but it can still wash out.
Here a few ways to test your garment. The best and the most expensive is to purchase a digital thermometer for your dryer or flash unit. You can put the probe at the level of the garment and check for correct temperature.
Most of us are working on low budgets and cannot afford this kind of equipment. Who knows if the digital thermometer may cost more than your entire screenprinting system?
The first way is to pull slightly on the garment. Cured plastisol is a thermoplastic and is very pliable. It will stretch and return to its original shape and design. This is not conclusive but it will give you a good idea.
The most reliable method for most of us is the “Wash Test”. As the name suggests, we wash a few test garments. Washing is hard on printed garments. After you wash it look at the print. If it still looks like the original print it is cured. Do a sample garment once in a short run and a few times in a large run.
Note: In the States, the environmental laws vary from state to state and internationally the environmental laws vary even more. It is important to all the screenprinters that I know that we protect our environment and our family.
With that in mind let me tell you it will cost you more to use “green” products (environmentally safe products) than mineral spirits or other toxic cleaners. You owe it to you, your family and your environment to use these products. “Franmar” produces the products I recommend.
Once you are done with your job the cleanup begins. It is a two-part cleanup: the ink, then the screen.
Plastisol ink is not hazardous but must be disposed of properly. What do you do with a worn out T-shirt? You can throw it in the trash. The same can be done with the ink, if it has been cured. Do not rinse ink down the drain. Do not dispose of uncured ink in the trash. If you have a little left over put it on an old garment, cure it, then dispose it.
To take the ink of a screen you will need an ink remover. I use “BEAN-e-doo” a soybean based, non-toxic, environmentally safe product. First scrape as much ink off the screen as you can. Plastisol is reusable so put it back in the container. Apply the BEAN-e-doo to a rag and wipe the screen clean. Let the rag dry and then dispose it.
Reclaiming the Screen
If you are new to this business you may not know that screens are reusable. If you are not going to reuse the print on the screen, reclaim it!
We use STRIP-E-DOO. It is a stripper and degreaser all in one. It is easy to use and safe. Apply it to the screen. Scrub it in and wait about a minute for it to work. Wash it off with a good pressure water hose. The emulsion will wash out.
There may be a ghost image remaining. If your screen is low mesh do not worry about it. If it is a high mesh screen, you will need to dehaze the screen. We use Franmar’s d-HAZE.
After you strip the screen it will be ready to re-apply emulsion and start again. This is fun!
There is one more solution I think is important to talk about. If nothing else, the name is note worthy: “ICKEE STICKEE UNSTUCK”. It is a multi- purpose cleaner. It will remove ink, adhesive and my single son let me know that it removes soap scum from his shower.
This is hard to pinpoint a scale for all areas. Prices tend to be regional in scope. Here in the States, for example, in California they all wear 100% cotton shirts but where I live 50/50 blends are what we print. This will create a price difference.
The variables in pricing are:
The best thing to do for pricing is some comparative shopping. Shop your competition. Some people have problems with calling the competitor and getting their prices. To me this is a smart business decision. Do your homework. Your pricing structure will determine if you make money or not. Take it seriously and attack it as if your business life depends on it because IT MAY!
Other Inks and Oddities
Do not be afraid to try something new. This is the way we learn and expand your business. Remember “If it is flat we can print it”. Wood, metal, plastic, glass, etc. are printable.
In the garment industry there are inks and additives that will add that extra something to increase the customer’s look and your profits.
There are inks that glow in the dark, change with light and body heat, metal flake inks, puff inks, suede inks, inks with scent added. These are just a few of the specialty inks. Talk to your ink distributors on availability and application. If they do not have what you want contact me I will help you.
Remember that you can make transfer with your screenprint system. Many screenprinters forget that they can produce transfers for special occasions and situations.
The End of the Class
I want to thank Johnny Duncan and the Staff of SignIndustry.com for the opportunity to write these articles. It has been a fun and rewarding experience for me.
Remember, if it is not fun, don’t do it. Do not be afraid to experiment with this business. Some of the best customers I ever had came from the fact I was willing to try something new.
Good Luck and Keep Printing!
Class is over and you all passed with flying colors.
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