July '21

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1 2 G R A P H I C S P R O J U L Y 2 0 2 1 G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M S o many decorating processes in the graphics industr y require ink. Screen printing, sublima- tion, UV-LED, direct-to-garment (DTG) … ink plays a vital role in all of these processes. In fact, without it, you wouldn't be able to achieve an image with these decoration methods. From banner printing to T-shirts, from custom mugs to awards, there are so many items that can be embellished with colorful images cre- ated using ink. Across the graphics industry, ink con- tinues to be in high demand. But as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic con- tinue to ripple across the country, even ink has not been immune to shortages. Everything from supply chain challenges to shipping issues have had massive effects on ink supply to the graphics industry. INK BASICS Before we look at those issues, though, let's take a look at ink basics. Understanding how inks work, what the specifics are of each printing method, and even knowing what kinds of inks are available will help graphics shops create better prints. Let's start with the world of textiles. Apparel and soft substrates can be em- bellished with a variety of techniques that utilize ink, including sublimation, DTG, and of course the traditional screen print. For each method, delivering high-quality final products is a must. A n e xc e l lent f i n a l product stems from us- ing quality ink. "High- quality inks for screen printing are continu- ously tested for wash fastness and durability by the manufacturers," notes Mark Suhadolnik, GSG. "The manufactur- er will also provide ex- act parameters for mix- ing, proper cure, flash- ing, and print applica- tion as well as proper clean up and disposal, ensuring that you can deliver a quality printed product to your customer." "This is what your customer sees and how your final product is judged," adds Taylor Landesman, Lawson Screen & Digital Products. If you want your cus- tomers to come back, use high-quality screen printing ink. A similar approach is also necessary when it comes to DTG printing. "Printing on textile is not trivial," says Sharon D o n o v i c h , K o r n i t Digital. "There are so many parameters that need to be taken into ac- count to get high-quali- ty prints." She notes that means inks that provide a great look and feel; have washabilit y and durability that match the industry standards; are safe for use on hu- man skin; are certified to the industry standards (GOTS, CPSI A, and Eco Passport); and are compatible with digital inkjet technology. When you use poor-quality inks on any substrate, you take major risks. "If you have low-quality inks, you risk your inks not being activated properly. This will result in poor image output, In the Ink Pot HOW INK FITS IN THE GRAPHICS INDUSTRY AND THE CURRENT CHALLENGES AFFECTING IT B Y C A S S I E G R E E N (Image courtesy Lawson Screen & Digital Products) Sublimation ink has a very specific de- sign. If you don't use it with this process, you risk lower vibrancy and durability. (Im- age courtesy Sawgrass)

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