How To Clean Your Emulsion Off Your Screen Printing Screen

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 7.56.50 PMProperly cleaning your screen is essential not only for your screen printing jobs, but also for the life of your screen.

Here’s quick step by step instructions on how to properly clean emulsion off your screen.

  1. Remove the excess ink off of your screen.  Feel free to use whatever you have handy for this process…sponge, piece of cardboard, etc.
  2. Use a red Mclogan Scrub Pad, spray your Mclogan Emulsion Remover Concentrate onto the front and back of the screen.  Scrub remover-022414both sides.
  3. Rinse with water.  A high pressure washer is recommended.

*If you have any stubborn ink stains or traces of emulsion, after relcaiming your screen printing screen  use a liquid haze remover.  Spray this haze remover onto your screen, let it sit for a few minutes and then take a clean red Mclogan Scrub Pad and scrub until your screen is clean. Pressure washer reccommended

Now your screen is ready for  your next job.

We look forward to hearing from you with any questions. 

Ranar Exposure Units

The XPO-series screen printing exposure units, are for startup screen printing shops, or shops on a budget.  There are three models, XPO-2426, XPO-2331, and the XPO-2848.  Expose or burn images onto photo emulsions with high output UV Fluorescent lights, with accurate detail.  You can produce multi-color silk screen printed designs with fine detail or halftones used in four color process with quality film positives. Exposing dual cure, diazo and photopolymers emulsions, plus capillary films are easily done. All of these are commonly used in the textile, graphics, and ad specialty printing industries.

The Ranar XPO-series exposure units have a rigid tubular frame with holes in sides where the vacuum draws air from the exposure area. This vacuum frame has a rubber blanket that raises and lowers with gas shocks for easy access. A fast vacuum draws down the neoprene rubber blanket to the clear glass and creates perfect contact between your film positive and screen for clean crisp resolution. An accurate programmable digital timer controls exposure times. They use energy efficient electronic ballasts and unfiltered ultraviolet black light bulbs with 320 nanometers in our screen exposure units. With a flip of a switch the vacuum and ultraviolet lights can be used manually or automatically.

As always we look forward to hearing from you so call us here with your questions.

XPO2848Front

Mesh Counts for Screen Printing

Many people new to screen printing probably have a few screen printing screens that are all the same mesh count.  Understanding the mesh geometry can be a bit technical, but is highly beneficial for different types of screen printing jobs.  The mesh count and thread diameter are the two parts to be concerned with.  The mesh count refers to the number of threads per inch and the thread diameter is the diameter of the thread, before it has been woven into a mesh.  Screen printing equipment

Different mesh counts will affect your prints in these following ways:

  • Overall printability for dots (halftones), lines, and fine/smaller details
  • Crisp, clean looking screen prints
  • Ink release from the screen
  • Printing speed and ease of printing for your job
  • Ink volume thickness
  • Your overall ink used.  You want to avoid laying down too much ink and wasting ink…in turn wasting money.

For general, simple, manual screen printing  jobs we recommend a 160-180 mesh count.  For screen printing jobs that require more detail, finer lines, and/or halftones you can take your lines per inch and multiply that number by 4.  If your lines per inch are 55 x 4 then your recommended mesh count would be 220.  For these more detail orientated jobs mesh counts of 200-230 are usually used.

Screens that are 200 mesh counts or greater will have screens that are dyed an orange or yellow color.  This is done so that the extra light is absorbed into the dyed mesh rather than refracting around, which will ensure that your prints are crisp, clean and uniform.  The higher your mesh count then the longer you must expose your screen.

Call our LA location to speak with Rick and he can help answer any mesh count questions.

High Density Ink and Screen Printing

blogran-silverHigh Density Inks are Specialty Plastisol Inks and they are used on many different types of screen printing jobs.  These inks produce dramatic 3-dimensional, heavy-deposit prints.  High Density Inks have a reduced tack and increased flow characteristics, these high-viscosity plastisol inks will print through thick stencils.  Their unique flash time will speed up production and dwell time in the dryer.

Extremely sharp edges can be produced for maximum effect.  This type of screen printing ink can be printed on 100% cotton, or cotton- poly blends.  Test prints are always recommended.  Available as 142 HD Base, 143 HD White and 144 HD Black.

Below we will explain how to print this specialty ink and the steps you will want to take.

Materials

  1. International Coatings High-Density White, Black or you can add the color concentrates to the 142 HD Base to make any pantone color you want.
  2. Chromaline Thick High Density Film — The microns will depend upon the look you want.  Different microns will determine a flatter 3D look or a higher 3D print.
  3. 40-83 Mesh Screen a new screen would be preferred since you want the screen tension to be high, to yield a clean screen print.
  4. Test print pellon
  5.  A roll of R-tape 2000 Black Out Tape
  6. Squeegee 70 durometer
  7. Mclogan Waterproof Film

Screen Printing the High Density Ink

1.  Use the R-Tape 2000 to tape the Mclogan Waterproof Film to the registration board just as you would for any other screen setup. Lay the blank, clean, degreased silk screen over the film and mark the crosshairs. Doing this first ensures you will adhere the Chormaline Thick High Density Film in the correct position on the screen so that when you are ready to expose, there will be no question of where to tape the film.

2.  Remove a sheet of Thick High Density Film.  This film should be opened in a dark room, so you don’t expose it.   Be sure to handle it in a dark room so it’s not exposed to light, which can ruin it.

3.  Lay your test pellon down.  Pre-cut your Chromaline Thick High Density Film and then remove the protective cover sheet.  Apply tape to the duller side of the film and that will easily remove the protective cover sheet.

4.  Block out the rest of your screen with the R-Tape 2000.  Pour a thin layer of emulsion.  Using your 70 durometer squeegee coat the screen up to 3 times.

5.  Peel off the tape and place the screen on a rack, squeegee side down, to dry in a Ranar Screen Drying Cabinet.  You will know when the screen is dry when the carrier comes off easily.  If there’s noise or an extra sort of toughness when pulling off the carrier then additional drying time would be best.  1.5-2 hrs should be sufficient drying time.

6.  Place the emulsion side of the photopositive in contact with the print side of the screen.  For screen exposure times please check manufactures specifications.  The higher the microns the longer you will have to expose your screen.

7.  Wet both sides of the screen.  Pressure wash your printed side of screen until the image is fully open.  This can take up to 6-8 minutes when using thicker films.  Most wash times are 2-4 minutes though.

8.  After taping your screen make sure to adjust your off-contact on your screen printing press.  Usually when printing high density prints you can actually double your off-contact so that you don’t smash the ink.  The thicker ink will need more room than a standard screen printing ink.

9.  Make sure your flood your high density ink, just like you would a standard ink screen print.  You want to provide enough ink to fill your stencil.

Using different types of inks, along with different techniques will add to your screen printing “bag of tricks”.  As always please email or call one of our 4 locations to speak with a Mclogan representative with any questions.

Choosing the Right Screen Printing Mesh for Plastisol Ink

Plastisol inks and screen printing mesh from McLoganThe right mesh count will make a huge difference in all of your silk-screen jobs.  Here’s a list of the different mesh counts and the plastisol ink(s) that would work per screen printing job:

Mesh Count: 25, 40 – Usage: Glitter Inks.  Screen printers usually use 159 Ultraclear Glitter Base mixed with our Glitter Polyester Jewels to create a sparkly finish.  Or you can purchase a premixed glitter ink from International Coatings or Triangle Ink.

Mesh Count: 60, 86 – Usage: Specialty inks, such as 220 LF Additive (puff), Gold/Silver Shimmer Inks 92 LF

Mesh Count: 110, 155 – Usage:  This mesh will allow you to place more ink onto your textile.  Some examples would be athletic numbers, printing white on black fabric, low-detail art or heavy white ink images.  International Coatings 7100 Series Inks

Mesh Count: 160, 180, 200 – Usage:  These mesh counts are great for screen printers printing on black garments.  You want to first print an under-base white like the 7031 LF Ultra White to create a design that stands out on a black garment.   This mesh count also works for designs that are only minimally detailed.

Mesh Count: 230, 280, 305 – Usage:  Any type of plastisol ink can be used on these mesh counts.  Typically these mesh counts are used for low ink deposit for small logos, intricate designs, etc.

Screen Printing MeshThe most common mesh count for the average screen printer is a 110 for darker fabrics and a 160 for all other printing.  Before buying your screens check the tech sheets to determine the right mesh count for the series of plastisol ink you are using.

As always contact a Mclogan representative at one of our four locations to help answer your questions.

How To Avoid Unwanted Marks While Screen Printing

Screen printingThere are many important steps that screen printers must go through while screen printing to ensure a perfect product.  Unfortunately, all screen printers occasionally get unwanted marks or ghost images on their textiles.

Here’s some mandatory steps that you might be forgetting that will mess up any job.

  • Screens must be replaced.  When Franmar D-Haze Remover  Gel is used it is so strong that it will actually weaken the mesh.  When your mesh is distorted, or in some way damaged then it is time to replace your screen and this will depend on how much you are printing.  Aluminum screens are also recommended over wooden screens since the aluminum screens will not warp.
  • Periodically replace your squeegees.  Your squeegee is one of the most important tools to successfully screen print.  Any deformities in the squeegee blade can relate back to an unwanted mark or uneven print.  Anyways have extra squeegees on hand in your shop in case something happens to the one you are using while printing.
  • Mesh tightness and consistency with screen printing.  When you push or pull your squeegee you want the mesh to slightly come into contact with your garment.  As you move the squeegee the tight mesh should spring back to it’s original tightness.  When setting up your screen you want the screen to be about an 1/8th of an inch away from the textile, and this is what screen printers call off contact printing.  If your mesh is too loose then you will have problems with the ink pooling and creating a ring/halo around your design.
  • Clean your  silk-screen.  At the end of your  silk-screening job your what to take your Mclogan Emulsion Remover Concentrate to remove the image.  Then take your Franmar D-Haze Remover to remove the ghost image.  Make sure before you begin your next screen printing job that you use the Mclogan Degreaser, or the Ulano #3 Screen Degreaser to ensure that your screen is ready for your emulsion.  Having a screen that is not properly cleaned or prepared will make it harder for your emulsion set the mesh.

If you’ve experienced any of the problems shown below while screen printing then hopefully this will help with your next job.  Make sure to stop by our website to purchase your Mclogan Emulsion Remover Concentrate and McLogan Degreaser.

off-contact-pooling

off-contact-pooling-result

Screen Printing Squeegees – Tips for Choosing the Right Ones

Screen Printing Squeegees from McLoganWhat’s so important about screen printing squeegees?

Well, if you are a screen printer, this screen printing tool is what makes your decorating discipline of choice work. It is one of the most important tools, yet it may also be one of the least understood. Many screen printers wonder why there are so many different squeegee types, and they may not know how to choose the correct one for their needs.

Following are a few tips on what to look for:

Screen Printing Squeegee Handles: When screen printing manually, choose one that fits your hand comfortably.

Screen Printing Squeegee Blade shapes: There are three different types—square, round and V-shaped.

  • Square (straight edge) blades are most often used by screen printers. They work well for standard or regular ink applications.
  • Round (ball nose) squeegee blades deposit more ink. Use this type for special effects inks such as gel or puff.
  • V-shaped (single- or double-bevel) blades are typically used for printing on irregular or cylindrical-shaped substrates.

Durometer: Denotes the hardness of the blades.

  • A 50-60 durometer is soft blade that will deposit more ink. Choose this durometer for heavily-textured fabrics to lay down more ink (may help with fibrillation) or for use with special effects inks, such as gels and puffs.
  • A 60-75 durometer designation ranks medium on the hardness scale. It is good for general printing.
  • The hardest option is an 80 durometer blade. It will deposit less ink and is great for printing fine detail or four-color process prints.

FAQ’S ABOUT SCREEN PRINTING SQUEEGEES

What is the right squeegee size in relation to the size of the image?

Use a squeegee that not only covers the image entirely, but overlaps it by a good margin—at least an inch or so. If the squeegee is not wide enough, the edges of the image may come out blurred or smudged. This is due to the fact that most of the pressure exerted in printing is focused more toward the center of the print rather than the outer edges.

What Screen Printing Squeegee do you use when printing different substrates?

A 70 durometer squeegee is good for all around printing on textiles.  A 80 durometer squeegee is good for printing on paper

If you have any questions about what screen printing squeegee you need for a project or to give as a gift this holiday season, make sure you contact us at 1-800-McLogan and we will be happy to help you.

Screen Printing Supplies Must Haves

Here are 5 screen printing supplies – must haves – that will make the job a little easier.

#1 I always tell my customers screen printing ink is like baking a cake if you over cook it won’t taste good, if it’s under cooked it won’t taste good. Screen printing ink when not cured at the proper temperature will either wash off or crack off the garment. You always want to ensure that the garments are cured at the proper temperature.

Thermolabels are formulated to react within a few seconds when the rated temperature is reached. As each section of a label reaches its rated temperature, that section responds with a sharply defined color change from white to black leaving the printed temperature clearly visible. And, because this is indelibly printed in both Fahrenheit and Celsius, it provides an irrefutable record of maximum temperature attained in any area of observation, even when this is otherwise inaccessible as in ovens, washing and curing. Thermolabel products are, therefore, widely used for proof of heat attained in screen printing and textile processing.

  • Temperature Range 290-330F

Screen Printing Supplies - Thermolables

#2 Pallet Tape

Pallet tape also known as application tape for the sign industry is a great way to protect your pallets. Pallet tape will  also speed up the clean up process at the end of the day by not having to clean the adhesive off the pallets.

#3 Screen and Squeegee racks

Screen racks are very convenient for any silkscreen shop. They not only keep the clutter of screens on the shop floor but make it a snap to move multiple screens safely to different areas. Squeegee racks also keep your squeegee’s handy and out of your way when changing jobs on the screen printing equipment. An organized shop will help productivity and lower contamination.

Screen Printing Supplies - Screen Racks

#4 Test Pellons

Test pellons serve a few purposes in the screen printing process. First off these allow you to assure all your colors are correctly aligned before beginning a job, without wasting a good t shirt.  You can also test the temperature of your dryer eliminating the possibility of scorching the actual t shirt. The 15″x18″ pellons come in black and white.

#5 Spot Cleaning Gun

Screen printing ink stain accidents will happen during the screen printing process and instead of wasting the shirt you can use a Tekmar TG-300 spot removing gun to remove the cured or uncured ink.  The guns use a special solvent to get rid of the ink off the garment.

Screen Printing Supplies - Spot Cleaning Gun

 

If you have any questions about these “must have” or other screen printing supplies contact us at 1-800-McLogan or come on in any one of our four locations and our screen printing supplies experts are there to help!

Ulano Emulsions – MFG Spotlight

  Ulano EmulsionsThe process of silkscreen/screen printing uses a light sensitive coating to record an image. This chemical coating is called the emulsion.  The screen is completely coated with emulsion and then exposed to the light under a positive of the desired image (similar to photography).  Afterward, the emulsion washes away from the unexposed areas with water, so the ink will go through and the design becomes a print.  Within the silkscreen/screen printing process there are also different kinds of emulsion to use, depending on the kind of ink and equipment you are using.

1. Ulano 925 WR:  Ulano EmulsionsA lot of beginner start screen printing with water-based inks for their textiles so Ulano 925 WR is a perfect emulsion to start with.    Ulano 925 WR comes with a syrup diazo sensitizer for easy, fast mixing.  Beginners usually use the sun to expose their screens; Ulano 925 is the best for this since it has a longer time allowed in the sun (time depends on the UV index) during the exposing process.

~Diazo:  This type of emulsion is thick and durable. It is easy to see when the emulsion on the screen is exposed because the color changes.  A quart will cover between 20 to 25 screens, if they are the standard 18- by 24-inch size.  It can be messy however, and needs to be mixed with a sensitizer or activator before it becomes light sensitive.  This emulsion will keep for six to eight months before being mixed with activator, but after you mix it the shelf life is only three months maximum.

2.Ulano Emulsions  Ulano QTX is an emulsion that is ready-to-use since it does not require mixing like the Ulano 925 WR.  It is ultra-fast exposing SBQ photopolymer direct emulsion formulated for textile printing.  This high solid content allows for superior coating properties, better bridging of coarse mesh, and it dries fast.  QTX is used for plastisol inks, and short run water-base printing.  QTX will break down over time if you continually use water-based inks.  Do not use strong solvents during the printing or wash-up period.  QTX is presensitized, and must be handled in safe light conditions before exposure…no UV light.

~Photopolymer:  This is a professional quality emulsion that has much quicker and more stable exposure times.   Photopolymer can take the image in seconds and dries fast after being coated.  You can apply several coats quickly, creating a thick layer of emulsion that will work well if you are printing on a rougher textile, like sports clothes or denim. Pure photopolymer is often sold “pre-sensitized” so it does not need to be mixed.

3.Ulano Emulsions  Ulano QT-DISCHARGE is specially formulated to resist discharge inks and is compatible with water-based and plastisol inks too. You may wonder why people bother with buying the other two emulsions when this one can do it all, and the answer is that people find emulsions that work best for them…it’s just a preference.  Ulano QT-DISCHARGE  requires fewer coats than Ulano 925 WR, dries more quickly and exposes twice as fast.  QT-DISCHARGE has a high (41%) solids content, providing good stencil build per coat, excellent mesh bridging of coarse mesh, and fast drying. It utilizes a powder diazo (rather than 925WR’s syrup).

~Dual Cure:  This emulsion combines qualities of diazo and photopolymer together.  It has a fast exposure time and changes color when it’s finished exposing. Dual cure also gives the screen a heavy coating and holds the image well.  Dual Cure does need to be mixed with an activator chemical and has the same shelf life as the diazo. Inexperienced printers can also use it successfully, but the fast exposure time makes it a little more challenging for beginners.

If you have problems with the emulsions you use, here are a few pointers to help you:

  • Using lower-wattage light bulbs to expose screens can result in images that aren’t crisp or in the emulsion washing out where it’s not supposed to. Instead of spending a lot of time touching up the screen with screen filler, try using dual cure emulsion.
  • Although the Diazo is the most forgiving of the various types of emulsions, it is also the slowest to expose. Dual cure hardens (cures) faster and can especially make a difference for those using a weak source of light for exposure.
  • Use a reliable, industry-supplied light source…like a Ranar CBX Exposure Unit or a Ranar 24×26 Exposure Unit.
  • Certain emulsions must be mixed with a distilled/bottled water.  Using tap water which has certain bacterias can ruin your emulsion.
  • For emulsions that you mix allow them to sit for 15 mins before using.
  • Use a scoop-coater to apply the emulsion evenly on your mesh.

McLogan has a complete line of great Ulano Emulsions and chemicals for all your screen printing projects. Order online or come into one of our four locations.

How To Properly Cure Your Garment When Using Plastisol Ink

A problem that most silkscreen/screen printers have and a question we get asked a lot is  “Why is my plastisol ink coming off during the wash?”

The cause of this problem is most likely due to the fact that the ink is not cured properly.  Plastisol ink needs to cure at a minimum temperature of 320º F for at least one minute. This allows the molecules to properly fuse to each other as well as to the fabric.

There are many variables that can cause problems with ink curing.   Air temperature and humidity are major issues, so be sure to dry your ink in a safe controlled environment. Make sure that the ink reaches 320º F in order to cure, not just the garment that you are printing on.  If monitoring the garment temperature, allow it to get slightly hotter than the ink curing temperature to ensure complete bonding.  In colder weather you may need to increasing the dryer temperature, or allowing the ink to pass through a bit longer than one minute.

“Why does the plastisol ink print crack on the garment after the first wash?”

The plastisol was not cured properly if the ink is cracking. It could have been the temperature on the dryer being too high, or the time allowed to dry was too long.

How To Properly Cure Your Garment - Plastisol Inks“What type of affordable dryer is best to cure plastisol?”

 

The best dryer to properly cure garments is a conveyer dryer like the BBC Little Buddy Dryer or the Ranar Scamp Dryer.  Ranar manufactures the DX200 Scamp T-Shirt Dryerwhich is a  conveyor dryer and one of the best options on the market in terms of price and versatility.  It’s available in 120 or 220 volt, it has many features that other manufacturers don’t offer:  adjustable heater height, temperature, belt speed, and a removable oven hood for curing caps.  Whether you’re silk screening t-shirts, sweats, hoodies, jackets or hats. This conveyor dryer is 24″ wide 60″ long with a 18″ inch wide belt. With production rates of 50 to 65 pieces per hour screen printed with plastisol ink.  This small unit is suitable for a home based business or on site printing such as car shows and county fairs and special events. Portable enough to run with a small generator.

Flash Dryers like the BBC Industries Afford-A-Flash is a more affordable option where the dryer just hovers over the garment until you move it.

A heat gun like the Master Heat Gun is also another options.  This option is also affordable, but probably the worst of the 3 types of dryers for plastisol.  Your plastisol needs to be cured evenly and with a heat gun there’s no way to know if you are over-curing certain areas, or under-curing as you move the heat gun over the garment.

“What is the best way to determine the temperature of my plastisol ink as I cure it?”

 

There are two options to tell the temperature of your ink.  One, is to use a heat gun (Mini IR Thermometer) that has a laser pointer for easy targeting and the other is Thermolabels.  Thermolabels are formulated to react within a few seconds when the rated temperature is reached. As each section of a label reaches its rated temperature, that section responds with a sharply defined color change from white to black leaving the printed temperature clearly visible.

~ When dealing with plastisol the conditions, temperature, time and garment all make a difference.  Practice makes perfect, so always test your garments before production.

~Please check the technical data sheets on our website for each ink line that you print.