May '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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4 8 P R I N T W E A R M A Y 2 0 1 9 W hen it comes to screen printing at any level, the key to a great plastisol application is knowing the important relationship between the ink, screen, and substrate. This refers to the basic physical action taken when the ink is applied to a garment. Of course, there are many factors in the screen-print process, such as correct mesh count, mesh tension, ink for the selected substrate, and squeegees. All these parameter factors are well documented and quite often correctly followed. The frustration comes when these factors are in line and yet the ink does not apply to the garment correctly. Persons new to the screen-print industry are often self-taught and look for help on forums with other fellow screen printers. Very often, when the frustrated printer asked why a particular print isn't working, the all too common response is to suggest a different mesh or ink. Many times, the answer is elsewhere. WORKING TOGETHER Whether it is on a manual or an automatic press, the basic relation- ship between the above three components are most important in achieving trouble free and high-quality prints. For our purposes, we will be looking at printing on a manual press for the remainder of this article. Fabric: When a printer is presented with an inquiry for a job, the first consideration should be the fabric composition on which it will be printed as the fabric will play the largest role in the decision pro- cess regarding ink, the art style, and, ultimately, the screen mesh. For instance, a 100 percent cotton fabric only requires a basic plastisol base, and no bleed resistance or special meshes. Cotton usually poses the least resistance to high mesh, halftone, or detailed art, and pa- rameter changes on-press. Polyester and polyester blends however, demand that a bleed-resistant ink be used, whether it is built into the color or the underbase layer. This difference sends the decision- making process for art and screens in a different direction. The art may need to be less detailed so it can translate better onto lower mesh and additional flashing on press may be in order. Screen: The screen is where it all starts in terms of on-press con- siderations. The first step in assuring a quality print is to achieve a clean image with the correct EOM (emulsion over mesh) as dic- Back to Basics THE 101 OF PLASTISOL INK APPLICATION R A Y S M I T H The ink should be flood- ed with enough force to push the ink into the stencil in the screen and past the mesh. (Images courtesy PolyOne)

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