When I print my shirt, my image seems to be a little blurry.
Again this can be caused by a number of things: Are the screens tight in their clamps and the micro registration tightened? As you print the force will alter your screen’s position on the print surface. So, if the clamps holding your screens are loose then your print will be out of registration. This would especially be true on 1 colour prints.
Are the platens secured to the press and have you applied a good amount of tak to hold the garment in place. If you are using a flash, and after your second pull or colour it is burring, then the flash could be shrinking the shirt, thus distorting your print. Also if you flash for two long between colours you will start to cure the ink which can result in blurred / poor print quality.
Has your screen mesh lost it tightness? The screen needs to be tight so that your image is tight. Time to restretch.
Is your mesh count and squeegee right? It can be surprising how much of a difference this can make when printing.
To enjoy the print longer … Do not bleach, do not cook, do not burn, do not dig, do not thrown into a barrel of acid.
Product advice on a Polish T-shirt printing website
What heat press should I buy?
A common question but the answer is rarely straight forward as there are many factors to consider.
What is a heat press.
A heat press is a machine engineered to imprint a design or graphic on a substrate, such as a t-shirt, with the application of heat and pressure for a preset period of time.
Where does it fit in the process.
1, Choose an image to put on a product like a t-shirt
2. Print onto heat transfer paper
3. Lay the image on your t shirt
4. Use a heat press to transfer the image on the t shirt.
Which heat press should you buy
What are you going to use it for? Garments (T Shirts, Hoodies, Caps), promotional items (mouse maps, phone cases etc) , DTG preparation and curing, sublimation, Vinyl, Plastisol transfers etc Heat Presses are involved in all of these process however there are a few areas to consider before parting with your money
So here are some of our views …
Accurate Heat – to get the best results a heat press needs to maintain accurate and consistent heat across the platen. Too little heat may not activate the adhesives to fully fix the graphic to the garment, too much heat can affect the graphic quality, reducing opacity or not giving an even cure.
Digital control – needed to ensure you have accurate temperature you don’t want fluctuating temperatures, you need accurate timings and therefore consistent results. Many digital controllers come with timers and safety features such as auto shutdown and alarms.
Even pressure – uneven pressure will lead to poor adhesion and inconsistent curing of ink therefore always choose a press which you can adjust and set for different thickness of substrates. Some presses have pressure gauges which are ideal for ensuring consistent results.
Size of the Heat Press – there are many sizes to choose from and a key question to ask when buying a press is ‘What is the largest size of garment / substrate will I be using?’ It normally makes good sense to buy a press that can accommodate future needs. It’s also easier to align garments on a larger press. Some presses come with interchangeable platens which gives you much more flexibility.
Clam or swing away?
- A clam has a smaller footprint, when using a swing away you need to give space for the swing which on the bigger units can be quite significant
- A clam is typically less expensive than a swing away and less moving parts
- It is easier to see what is going on with a clam, if a garment has gone out of alignment you can do something about it
- Clam presses are typically more portable
- Swing aways different from a clam with the heating element lifting up parallel and swings completely out of the way.
- It is often stated that with a clam press to increase the chances of burned knuckles with the clam however with a swing away it is just as easy to get the fingers in the way. Quality clam presses open wide enough to reduce the chance of accidents.
- Swing aways are often more popular with DTG printers but you can also use a Clam
- Swings aways typically can be set to give more pressure than a clam, we have found that some transfer papers don’t work well on clams
- You can debate this but it really does come back to personal preference and budget. The simple answer is choose the press that suits your needs.
Budget – always choose a press with a lifetime heater warranty, with CE certification (real Certification (beware some of the cheap China imports are not made with high quality components and may not be actually certified compared to European / US presses). It’s better to buy the right equipment first time out rather than the cheapest – quality equipment is designed to last years with warranty backup if there is a problem. You will often find broken low quality heat presses lurking in the back of many print shops. If your business is reliant on the equipment then consider the impact of the heat press breaking.
If you have questions at all please contact us to discuss your requirements
The squeegee is the tool used to push the ink through the mesh onto the substrate (whatever you are printing on) and whilst it might seem an unimportant thing compared to components of the screen printing process don’t be deceived by its simple appearance. The wrong squeegee or a damaged one can cost you in ruined printing.
So what does a squeegee do
- Bring the screen and substrate together
- Push ink through the open design areas
- Shear the ink
- Remove excess ink
- Control the release rate
Quite a lot of work for a humble looking piece of kit
Did you know squeegees have different bendibilty or hardness and this has a proper technical name with standards. Known as durometer or shore. You need different degrees depending on your ink. If your ink is a specialised one that requires more force to get it through the mesh, metallic ones are candidates, then you need a harder squeegee.
|Solvent Based Ink||Harder|
|High Speed Automotic Process||Harder|
|Light on dark/more ink coverage required||Softer|
The squeegee must be undamaged and sharp because it actually has to ‘cut’ or shear the ink otherwise the ink is smeared. So proper maintenance is important, cleaning them after use is very important. You can tell if a squeegee needs replacing or sharpening by the ink left on the screen. There should not be any! Certain inks like solvent based or UV inks do damage the squeegee over time and again this effects the sharpness of the print. Squeegees can be sharpened.
‘D’ Cut Squeegees are used for T-Shirt and textile printing, the tapered edge allows maximum ink deposit onto your garment. They are also ideal for plastisol ink when printing light on dark. Square edge blade allows for lesser deposit of ink and is used widely on higher mesh counts and finer prints. There are other shapes but these are only relevant to industrial use like printed circuit boards, adhesive and paste. If you want to know more about the science of squeegees have a look here http://www.gwent.org/gem_screen_printing.html
Aluminimum is more expensive than wooden but lasts longer.
So our mantra is the right squeegee for the right job, Check out our range and please don’t hesitate to get in touch for an explanation or advice on which squeegee to buy. Our staff are always ready to help and as Oli says “When the sunlight enters my room every morning I awake with a cheesy grin knowing today, today will be a good day. Someone, Somewhere will be squeegeeless and I can help their cause. I get a lot of satisfaction from this and that is why I enjoy working at WPS.”
I want to print light on dark?
I want a soft touch?
What is a discharge ink?
Here at Wicked Printing Stuff we don’t expect you to know everything and we are happy to explain things. Have you checked out our FREE buyers guide there is lots in there for the Rookie, Intermediate and Professional. Please give us a ring and explain your problem and we will help out. Lastly there are our training courses, designed again for both rookie and advanced printers with basic training or advanced courses.
So back to the problem. You want to print a light colour on a dark garment and you want it to feel soft. Now plastisol inks wrap colour AROUND the threads but gives a rubbery feel (also referred to as hand) but is bright. So ideally you want a water based ink. For those of you that have tried this and I can hear you shouting at the back, but I have tried waterbased inks and I just can’t get a good opaque print, that’s why I use plastisol. Well that’s where the discharge inks come in!
For the punk rockers out there, remember how you got that bright green hair, that is right you had to bleach out your own hair colour first so the back ground colour was white, only then the colour would take and be vibrant and striking. It is almost the same in screen printing but we use discharge inks that need curing. The discharge ink actually removes the dye.
First off you have to have the right garment fabric, it has to be 100% cotton and it has to be dyed with a dischargeable dye. So check with the manufacturer. If the garment is a mixture of cotton and polyester only the cotton will discharge. Now that might actually suit you but you would need to do a trial run to make sure you get the effect you want.
Water based dischargeable inks are the easiest and most eco friendly ones to use. The process works during curing when the discharge removes the original dye and the ink gives the new colour. To do this you add activator to the ink which ensures you get an intense colour.
At Wicked Printing Stuff we have researched the products extensively and as a consequence we recommend the following ink Unico The ink has been developed to meet the most recent ecological requirements. We also supply the Rutland Best of Brands discharge ink which works with both the Unico and the Union activator. Additionally we offer Union plasticharge which is a great way of using existing plastisol inks you may have and turning them into a discharge ink.
For the discharge process to work, you do need a tunnel dryer (the longer the better) – typically 90-120 seconds dwell time is needed for a good cure. You can also use a heat press which is great for low production. You also need well ventilated premises and printers should read the MSDS and be aware of any health and safety consideration.
We would be delighted to talk you through this if you have any questions, please contact us.