June '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Page 51 of 68

WATER-BASED INKS C olin Huggins, Ryonet, says printers working with water-based inks will want to pay attention to two main parts of the production chain: the screen room and the dryer. A few key things to keep in mind: 1. Build the right conditions. For screen prep, "Create an enclosed environment where you can control both the heat and humidity," Huggins says. "An average temperature between 72–85 degrees F is good and keeping the humidity level between 30–40 percent is necessary." Having a fan to circulate the warm air and using a hygrometer to measure humidity will help round out this approach. 2. Use emulsion hardener. "Apply it after rinsing out your screen to improve your emulsion's water resistance," he adds. "There are also a number of emulsions on the market designed specifically for water-based inks." 3. Monitor time and temperature closely. "Water-based inks cure by first evaporating all the water in your ink deposit," Huggins explains, pointing out that the ink needs to reach and hold at 320 degrees F. "Thirty seconds is a good target time at temp. Ink companies state 320 degrees F for 2-3 minutes. This is to ensure that you keep the garment in the dryer long enough to reach and hold at cure temps." 4. Use additives with smaller dryers. "If the tunnel of your dryer is on the short side, typically under six feet in length and you do not have forced air, we recommend adding a low cure additive to the ink," Huggins says. Using an additive, he notes, chemically cures your ink once the water is out of the ink. "From there, you can run the garment through your dryer long enough to evaporate the water, carefully stack them at the end of the dryer, and wait up to 48 hours and the ink will be fully cured." SCREEN AND DRYER CONSIDERATIONS 2 0 1 9 J U N E P R I N T W E A R 4 9 Left: Recent trends point to emerging economies like China and India also seeking out environmentally-friendly inks which means that while customers up the road might just be learning about these inks, eco-conscious shoppers from all around the globe are also getting onboard. (Image courtesy Ryonet) Right: If a shop needs assistance in their approach to working with water-based inks, many manufacturers offer programs dedicated to helping decorators learn about these materials. (Image courtesy Ryonet) ing revolution that we are experiencing in the textile industry, things like hybrid printing systems are also going to push the water-based market forward," says Marcotte. "Currently, there are a few units in production that digitally print on top of a traditionally screen printed underbase." Ultimately, if a shop can integrate water-based inks into their lineup, it'll ensure they're on board with the current demands of customers. "(Today's) society is used to getting their product as soon as possible, if not even on the same day of ordering," Basset states. "Water-based inks respond to the demands of the market and the customers better than plastisols in many ways." If a shop can offer high-quality prints combined with short turnarounds and an awareness of global sustainability trends, a wealth of op- portunity abounds. PW continued from page 48

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