Comparing Screen Printing Ink Curing Technology

Which curing technology is best for me?

There is often much debate in Screen Printing circles on the best ink curing technology to choose.   Different inks have different ink curing profiles e.g. Plastisol ink 150 – 160 degrees C for 30 seconds,   Water based inks 165 degrees C for 120 seconds –   always check the ink curing profile as there is much variation.  So we are about to  have a go at comparing the technology options.

WPS Essential Tunnel Dryer Live Printing

If you don’t cure the ink properly the ink will crack, fade or in some circumstances disappear after the garments have been thru the washing machine a few times  Always remember to test that the ink is cured. So worth making the right choice.

Some water based inks have curing additives (often known as Crosslinkers)  which you add to the ink prior to printing.    Crosslinkers range from additives which allow for a full air dry cure (not heat needed) or those which require the use of heat.  Crosslinkers provide Screen Printers with small tunnel dryers the ability to use and increase printing production when using water based ink.

The following ink ranges have Crosslinkers available :-

What are the Options?

Hair Dryers – They do not reach curing temperature for either Plastisol or Water based ink.  Very inexpensive. They can be used to dry Water based ink and cure with a Crosslinkers – NOT RECOMMENDED

Do not use a Hair Dryer to cure Screen Printing Ink
Do not use to cure Screen Printing Ink

Iron – The heat is  inconsistent.  Potentially can be use for Hobbyist applications e.g. printing your own T Shirt. Very inexpensive. Not suitable for commercial work – NOT RECOMMENDED

Do not use an Iron to cure Screen Printing Ink
Not Recommended

Hot Air Gun – Can be used for simple Flash Drying (also known as Spot Drying). It is possible to use  to cure Plastisol inks but you need to be very patient especially on large designs. Inexpensive.   – NOT RECOMMENDED for Curing

hot air gun bring used to touch dry ink

Flash Dryer – Often new Screen Printers use Flash Dryers to both ‘Flash Dry’ the ink when printing multi colour designs and for curing ink.  You will need to manage this process very carefully to make sure you do not scotch  garments.  Easier to achieve a full cure with Plastisol Ink then Water based ink.

They range from relatively inexpensive to a significant investment  Professional units. Just be aware that the cheaper Flash Dryers use a lot of power and can be expensive to run – OCCASIONAL USE

WPS Flash Dryer

Hand Curer –  The Hand Curer is a unique device which use Quartz technology often found in Professional Flash Dryers.  It is designed for space constrained environments with rapid cool down.  Good for small studios, home printers and for use in Live Screen Printing Events.  Can be expensive, however cost effective to run.

You can use the Hand Curer for ink curing, however production will be slow.  They are very energy efficient  – OCCASIONAL USE

hand curer for flash drying screen printing ink

Heat Press – Primarily designed for heat transfer applications e.g. Cut Viny media, Sublimation, DTG, DTF etc. Heat presses Can be expensive especially for Professional units. Avoid the cheaper units on eBay. A Heat Press cannot be used as a Flash Dryer but can successfully be used for ink curing. GOOD for LOW PRODUCTION 

Curing Garments with a Heat Press

Tunnel Dryers – Sometimes known as T Shirt Dryers or Conveyor Dryers.  They can’t be used for Flash Drying. Prime purpose is for Ink Curing so perfect for Production work.  There are lots of different types of Tunnel Dryers available, typically the length of the dryer indicates the level of production available.

For small Tunnel Dryers curing Water based inks (typically 2 metres long or less) need the garments to be put through two or three times to achieve a full cure.  We produce a wide range of highly efficient tunnel dryers to suit the needs of the smallest to the biggest screen printers. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Panther 700LW Dryer
WPS Texitunnel 700LW Tunnel Dryer

Please note that I ignored the options for using Kitchen Ovens and Tumble Dryers for curing inks,  occasionally this is mentioned in different sources.  Highly recommend that you ignore them as well!

Can I cure Screen Printing Inks with a Heat Press?

Can I cure Screen Printing Inks with a Heat Press?

The Simple answer is ‘Yes’,  before you start set the heat press so that there is almost no pressure. The heat plate should not be touching the print (or it gets very messy!)

Place some grease proof paper or transfer paper over the print before you cure.  Best to touch dry the ink before curing using a flash dryer or hot air gun.

Do I need a particular brand or type of Heat Press?  – Generally speaking no, we sell the Stahls range which do the job reliably well.  You can use a Clam or Swing Type Heat Press.  We would suggest that you avoid some of the cheap eBay Heat Presses.  They can be unreliable and have inconsistent heat on the platen.

You will need to set the time accordingly,  for Plastisol 45 – 80 secs and Water based inks 120 – 140 secs. Set the temperature  on the heat press slightly hotter than curing temperature.  Like always test before going into a production run.

Occasionally we are asked if you can use a Heat Press to cure Discharge Inks and use special effects e.g. puffer.  Again the simple answer is ‘Yes’ ,  when using puffer ink you will need to adjust the pressure to ensure the ink can rise.  Like always test before a production run.

Long term you are always best to use a Tunnel Dryer for curing to achieve the highest levels of through put.  Heat Presses are good to use in an emergency or in a class room environment but inefficient for production work.

We highly recommend that you flash or touch dry the ink prior to curing.

Choosing a Screen Printing Exposure Unit? – Updated

Choosing a Screen Printing Exposure Unit?

We are often asked “what is the best exposure unit for my screen printing business?”

Like always what seems a simple question does not have a simple answer. So we thought we would put this guide together to help work through your requirements and to come up with the right answer for you.

Let us first look at what YOU need for YOUR Screen Printing business. Think about these considerations and questions?

  • How many screens do you plan to produce on a daily basis (a couple here and there or up to hundreds per day)
  • What is the maximum screen size you use?
  • Do you have any space limitations?
  • Are you a hobbyist printer, commercial or educator?
  • What is the size of your budget?
  • What kind of artwork are you producing? E.g. Complex design with very detailed half tones / 4 Colour Process CMYK or typical T Shirt artwork (medium resolution / block style artwork)
  • We are going to do our best to avoid baffling techy jargon

Now let us look at the Exposure Unit solutions from simple to heavy duty.

WPS LED Exposure Lamp

LED exposure lamp on stand

WPS LED Exposure Lamp is a simple solution,  which are used every day. Good for hobbyists / home printers who make a handful of screens per day. Comes as part of our Screen Printing Kit range.

Pro: Very Cost Effective, can create excellent stencils and you can expose large screens. Note that the lamp does not have a vacuum therefore you need to ensure that the positive is tight and intimate with the screen. To do this you use sheet of glass (the heavier the better) which ensures that the film positive and screen are very tight.

This Exposure Unit uses LED which are powerful and reliable. They are very energy efficient and do not generate heat.

Cons: Can be slow (5 – 20 minutes depending on screen size) depending on the screen printing emulsions, requires space (large cupboards are ideal), the printer has to time the stencil exposure – there is nothing ‘hi tech’ about the lamp solution but it works.

WPS Mini Exposure Unit

WPS Mini Essential Exposure Unit showing the Actinic Tubes

The WPS Mini Exposure Unit uses proven “Actinic” tubes in a tight array. This exposure unit comes with a yellow pilot light which you use to position the film positive with the screen. The unit comes with an integrated timer (you can set multiple programs) and vacuum which is extremely easy to use.

We have used these units for a number of years and have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of stencil produced even with very difficult artwork. Typical exposure times from 120 – 300 seconds depending on what kind of emulsion and the number of coats you are using.

Drying Cabinet Ideal for small print shops, schools and colleges –  You can also purchase the unit with a drying cabinet which really does improve production with a relatively small footprint.

WPS Exposure Unit with drying cabinet

Pros: Very easy to use, very tight vacuum, and uses proven technology giving high quality stencils. Different sizes of exposure unit available to accommodate different frame sizes.

Cons: Not many, if you are a creating lots of screens you will have to replace tubes at some point.  Traditionally there has been debate that  tube units do not produce stencils as sharp as from a single light source. With tube units, light comes from multiple angles, potentially undercutting the positive during exposure which can result in the loss of fine detail. However our units have a dense tube array  we have not experienced many issues at all with this kind of unit.

These units can be used in a high production environment e.g. 50 – 70 screens per days. However do budget to replace the bulbs on a regular basis as they will gradually degrade.  You can always choose the LED version.

WPS LED Mini Exposure Unit

WPS Exposure Unit LED showing LED array

The WPS LED Mini Exposure Unit, consist of UV LED technology positioned in a tight array, similar format to the “Actinic” version. It comes with a yellow pilot light which you use to position the film positive with the screen. The unit comes with an integrated timer (you can set multiple programs) and vacuum which is extremely easy to use.

LED technology has started to make inroads into the screen printing industry, so the technology is relatively new and is continuing to be developed. Like the standard unit it also available with a built in drying cabinet which is great for increasing production and reducing mess.

Pros: Very quick (15 – 300 seconds depending on emulsion / number of coats etc.). Very easy to use, very tight vacuum, LED technology using low power, does not generate heat. LEDs are long lasting (stated to be very long life) and produce high quality stencils. Different sizes of exposure unit available to accommodate different frame sizes.

Cons: Initial purchase price higher than Actinic units. The LED array emits light from multiple angles undercutting the positive during exposure which can result in the loss of fine detail. However with LED technology this seems less of a problem than tube units and is commonly not considered a problem for the vast numbers of printers (99.9%).

LED technology is new and is continuing be developed.  The LED are to be manufactured to emit the correct light frequency, you can’t use generic LEDs for exposing screens.

Ideal for small / mid, large screen printing shops and educational establishments who need to produce lots of screens quickly. These units are designed for high production environments. There are also version available for printers who have invested in direct to screen technology.

WPS Heavy Duty Exposure Unit

Metal Hallide Exposure Unit

The Heavy Duty Unit uses a  Metal Halide bulb, they come in lots of different configurations.  Including different bulb ratings and features such as integrators.  An Integrator measures the quantity of light reaching the screen and adjusts the exposure if there are any voltage fluctuations or to compensate for deteriorating bulbs.  Some units have rapid start-up, it can take time for a metal halide bulb to get to the correct operating temperature. These units are fast and give very accurate stencils.

Metal Halide is still probably the most popular light source used for mid and large screen printers.  Some Heavy Duty Units use a Halogen bulb.  This type of bulb are rapidly going out of production.

Pros: Very fast (depending on the power options you choose). They come with advanced features so you can produce large numbers of stencils quickly, consistently and accurately. Often used in heavy industry environments and for used for multi applications e.g. exposing print plates. Different sizes of exposure unit available to accommodate different frame sizes.

Cons: Metal Halide bulbs are expensive (£200 – £400 common prices).  They generate heat and consume much more energy than LED units (LED exposure units typically use 1/5 of the energy of a metal halide unit). Many screen printers are moving over to LED technology.

In summary

When choosing an exposure unit take some time and think about your current and future screen printing requirements. There are lots of exposure units to choose from all giving different levels of production capability and quality.

The exposure units with combined drying cabinets are very cost effective and increase productivity. If you are looking to replace an older unit e.g. metal halide unit.  We would highly recommend that you consider LED units.

Please feel free to contact us to discuss your requirements. We can help you to find the right exposure solution for your needs.

Choosing a DTF printer?

Choosing a DTF printer?  – DTF (Direct to Film) has rapidly become a leading garment decoration technology.

The concept has been around for a few years but has gained significant traction,  quite simply it uses inkjet technology to print directly to a film, you  apply an adhesive powder, then cure the film with heat.  You now have a transfer which you can heat press directly onto a garment.

How does DTF compare to other garment decoration technologies?

DTG – You do not need to pre-treat dark garments when using DTG printers.  This in itself is a huge benefit.  With DTG you have to dry the pre-treatment prior to printing and have to cure the printer garments for good washability.

Typically the curing process takes 120 secs or more, involves lots of energy, time and equipment. For DTF you just need Heat Press for final application of the transfer.  Similar to DTF it uses Water based process inks and white ink to create the print.

The best aspect of DTF is that it reduces the need of having boxes of expensive garments on the shelf.  You can apply the transfers at a later date so improving your businesses working capital.

Some DTG vendors are offering DTF as an optional extra.

Cut Media – If you are using Cut Media then you are used to weeding.  DTF transfers are printed on either Cold or Hot Peel Film and no weeding is required.   

DTF like DTG does not have all of the same options as cut media e.g. foils, metallics colours, fluorescents etc but or the vast majority of designs DTF will do the job so not a complete replacement.

Laser Transfer – Laser printed transfers typically have poor washability, lack of versatility and getting the white to work properly can sometimes be a challenge. 

DTF printers have white ink so you are able to print complex designs with white ink, easily and effectively. Direct to Film technology effectively replaces the need for white toner Laser printers.

DTF is more versatile, better washability and cheaper to produce than Laser Transfer.

Screen Printing – For multi-coloured work screen print is time consuming, sometimes messy, involves lots of equipment and experience.  DTF is relatively clean, exact and easy to produce and generally for some designs ideal for low volume work.

Screen Printing is a very versatile technology and the range of inks and techniques are unlikely to be ever replaced by DTF.  Screen Printing is still the most economic and cost effective for high volume work.

In reality most garment decorators use different technologies, e.g.  both DTF and Screen Printing which gives the best solution for high and low production work. 

DTG will gradually be replaced by DTF, Laser Transfers and Cut Media will become more niche.  However like all technologies it is not a Silver Bullet! (even if manufacturers say that it is!).

Which DTF printer to choose?

It is a busy marketplace there are many Chinese manufacturers which are rebadged by many different vendors. There are DTF printer conversions which you can find on eBay.  There are a range of Powder Shaker / Dryers available to work with the printers.

The Shaker applies the adhesive powder to the transfer, it also cures the transfer within the same unit.  You can do these steps manually, and in some circumstances that might be the best option.

When using a Shaker you do need to take into account that you will lose the first 2 metres (or more) of your roll of film as you need to pre feed the film thru the shaker.  There are some solutions and ideas to get around this.

Unless you are a inkjet printer guru and technician we would recommend avoiding home made Epson printer conversions and opt for units designed for DTF.  Why?  functionality such as White ink circulation, maintenance and waste ink management are part of the unit. 

Software for home made units can be variable in quality and you might have to create your own colour profiles. 

DTF uses inkjet technology, you will become familiar with printhead maintenance very quickly.

The home made conversions don’t have this,  the initial purchase price maybe cheaper but you will spent a lot of time repairing and maintaining your printer.  Time is money, you will spend a lot of time on forums / social media trying to find maintenance solutions.

DTF Direct To Film Printer

If you purchase a smaller printer you will need someway of curing the transfer sheets.  You can use a DTF oven or a Tunnel Dyer – the WPS Premium Tunnel is perfect for this as it can run off a 13amp plug.  It is significantly faster than using a DTF oven.

DTF oven
WPS Premium Tunnel Dryer perfect for DTF and Screen Printers

The larger wide format printers are normally used with an inline Shaker / Dryer unit.  We recommend the  DTF Printer SD-70 – it is quick, well made, comes with a usable RIP (good software is essential), small footprint vertical Shaker unit.  More importantly it comes with support and maintenance services to keep your business running.

DTF printer with shaker

Use Quality consumables

it is easy to buy cheap consumables from eBay and then pay for it with maintenance or quality issues.  In particular choosing the right powder is important there are general purpose powders and some designed to be more effective for dark garments and sports wear. The SD-70 has a range of consumables and inks which are certified and designed for the unit.

For Audley, Oric etc and WPS DTF A3 printer and home made conversions we recommend the Indie ink range of PET Film, DTF Inks and Powder.  The vast majority of DTF printers use Epson print heads so there is a degree of compatibility.

As always if you need help then give us a call on 01614426555 or email

Tunnel Dryers

We have a number of  second hand or ex-rental WPS Texitunnel Tunnel Dryers, they have all been serviced or when noted re conditioned.  Dryers come with a 6 month warranty. These dryers are also available for export.

Excellent value at great prices.

Second Hand / Used Tunnel Dryers Archives – WPS Panther Tunnel Dryers (

700L Tunnel Dryer Single Phase
Used 700L Tunnel Dryer

The Tunnel Dryers in stock include  :-

A Three Phase Power and Single Phase Power WPS Panther 700 Texitunnel Tunnel Dryer in stock,  the 700 is the most popular tunnel dryer in the UK a proven workhorse – built to last:

Highly efficient t-shirt dryer suitable for any small or medium size t-shirt printing company using mainly “plastisol” printing inks. Good for t-shirts, sweatshirts, working clothes, umbrellas and many more substrates.

Ex Rental or Second hand 700L Texitunnel Dryers in Stock

The 700L Texitunnel Tunnel Dryer is highly efficient t-shirt dryer suitable for any medium size t-shirt printing company using plastisol and waterbased printing inks. Good for t-shirts, sweatshirts, working clothes, umbrellas and many more substrates. Ideal tunnel dryer for digital printers including popular DTG printers such as Resolute, Viper DTG, Anajet and Brother.

If you have any questions or not sure which dryer is best for you the please contact us via or phone 01614426555.

New Dryer Model Launched – 800L Aquacure

New Tunnel Dryer Model Launched – 800L Aquacure

Perfect solution for DTG and Screen Printers using Waterbased inks.  Highly efficient t-shirt dryer suitable for any medium size t-shirt printing company, dryer is incredibly power efficient. Good for t-shirts, sweatshirts, working clothes, umbrellas and many more substrates.  Can also be used for Plastisol.

Perfect choice if you are using DTG printers such as Epson, Ricoh, Resolute, Viper DTG, Anajet, Roland, Texjet and Brother.

Suitable for curing (plastisol inks) ranging from 200 – 600 garments per hour depending on garment size, type of print etc
Suitable for curing air drying waterbased inks ranging from 600 garments per hour depending on garment size, type of print etc
Suitable for curing Digital waterbased inks 100 (dark garments per hour, with heavy white) and 120 (light garments)


Dual Hot Air recirculation modules –with variable speed control
Dual Heating Arrays with individual temperature control (perfect for when printing low production plastisol)
Heating Arrays can be raised / lowered as per requirements
Dual Extractors (to single 80mm outlet) – variable speed control
Front and rear Sliders
New Powerful DC motor (permanent magnet) with choke
Length– Overall 3.4 metres (Inlet 70cm / Tunnel 210cm / Outlet 60cm)
Width– Maximum 90cm / Belt Width 70cm and Heaters 51.5cm
Electrical– 3 phase (380 volts / KW (total) 15.3 kw / Average power use per phase per hour 3.4 kw / Max power requirements per phase 24 amps (needs 32 amp three phase connect).

New for 2022 – WPS Professional Tabletop Screen Printing Carousel

Just launched – the new WPS Professional Tabletop Screen Printing Carousel. Perfect for Screen Printers looking for accurate registration.

The Carousel comes with 4 Print Heads each with Micro Registration and a single station. The unit is beautifully made, built to last and designed for accuracy. Good for screens up to 24 x 31″.