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Issues with Screen Printing (Total Newbie)

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Old January 8th, 2020 Jan 8, 2020 8:00:31 AM -   #1 (permalink)
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Red face Issues with Screen Printing (Total Newbie)

Okay so if you read my welcome message, I started a business about 2 months ago. No background in T shirt biz, but I love it as I'm learning. I have a 4 color manual table top screen printing machine. (as well as a Heatpress but that's irrelevant for this post)

So I have all the right tools ( I think) for Screen Print. I learned you can't do a good job without the right tools, like I tried using a mud pan to coat the emulsion on the screen...Nope didn't work. Bought a scoop coater and boom works like a charm. Researched and saw that burn times are important. Dialed it in to about 2 minutes 45 seconds, Though I still Get Janky Lines in my small text. (ugh)

I'm trying to screen print a few samples on some throwaway shirts and I keep "flooding" the screen wrong. Also, I think the plastisol ink is too viscous. Every time I flood the screen an excess amount of ink bleeds through the design and unto my shirt. UGH!

I don't think I'm using the right squeegee method either because I keep getting ink on the handle. So my questions are:

1) How do I burn the image crisply? I'm using a UV work light about a foot and a half above the surface where I lay the screen and the positive flat to burn the image. I know I just have to dial it in perfectly through trial and error, but do I "up" my burn time if the lines are coming out crisp? or "lower" my burn time?

2) How do I flood the screen correctly? Do I use alot of ink? or just enough? sometimes when I don't use enough I come out with a faded, ugly looking shirt, then I re-run the screen print by flooding the screen above the garment, then bringing the arm down over the garment and "clearing the screen"

3) what does it mean when the ink is bleeding through the screen image? is the ink too viscous? can I use a reducer? UGH! what hack can I use as a reducer? perhaps some isopropyl? or paint thinner??


PLEASE HELP THANKS!!!!


LOVE

PHIL
 
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Old January 11th, 2020 Jan 11, 2020 1:26:58 PM -   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Issues with Screen Printing (Total Newbie)

Sounds like you need to go up to a tighter mesh. Are you using like 160 or something? Upgrade to ~230.
 
Old January 11th, 2020 Jan 11, 2020 5:09:05 PM -   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Issues with Screen Printing (Total Newbie)

How do you flood the screen exactly? I was a newbie once...but flooding the screen with plastisol was never a problem. It's actually really hard to mess it up.



Ink on the handle is normal... get used to it
 
 
Old January 15th, 2020 Jan 15, 2020 6:59:13 PM -   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Issues with Screen Printing (Total Newbie)

Phil...find a local guy that will give you some training for a couple bucks. Screen printing can be frustrating when you start out
 
Old January 17th, 2020 Jan 17, 2020 11:21:54 AM -   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Issues with Screen Printing (Total Newbie)

I'm using a 110
 
Old January 17th, 2020 Jan 17, 2020 11:23:05 AM -   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Issues with Screen Printing (Total Newbie)

Well, I'm using the method of flooding the screen with A lot of ink while the screen is floating on top of the garment while it's on the platen.

But I learned through trial and error that only JUST A LITTLE BIT of ink is necessary. Should I go to a higher mesh count?
 
Old January 17th, 2020 Jan 17, 2020 11:23:31 AM -   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Issues with Screen Printing (Total Newbie)

Quote:
Originally Posted by greysquirrel
Phil...find a local guy that will give you some training for a couple bucks. Screen printing can be frustrating when you start out
Great IDEA
 
Old January 18th, 2020 Jan 18, 2020 7:16:26 AM -   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Issues with Screen Printing (Total Newbie)

Quote:
Originally Posted by phuzzy1deep
I'm using a 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by phuzzy1deep
Should I go to a higher mesh count?
Quote:
Originally Posted by phuzzy1deep
Great IDEA
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrivingZiggy
Sounds like you need to go up to a tighter mesh.
The problem and the solution seem to have been found.
 
Old January 18th, 2020 Jan 18, 2020 9:22:52 AM -   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Issues with Screen Printing (Total Newbie)

I had the same issue when I started it was just trial and error, I started doing shirts in the winter and the ink was cold I needed to mix it really well to make it creamier and the major obstacle for me was squeegee angle and pressure which I only got better at it with practice.
 
Old January 29th, 2020 Jan 29, 2020 11:46:37 AM -   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Issues with Screen Printing (Total Newbie)

You have far too many variables in what you describe to ever get consistent, clean prints. I concur with asking another local printer for some training. Here are a few basics:
1) Your light source is undercutting the edges of your image. Light sources must provide light that is exactly perpendicular to the films. The film must be secured flat. That is why exposure units come with a vacuum blanket to hold everything down.
2) Get an exposure calculator (https://chromaline.com/dial-in-exposure-time/). with consistent light and a calculator, you can dial in exposure times. Be aware that times will vary according to mesh count. Underexposing a screen will sometimes allow you to carry greater detail but it can cause other issues when trying to reclaim the screen later. Also the screen may breakdown before you expect.
3) Your comment about 'floating' the screen above the garment is slightly terrifying. I certainly hope you have the screen firmly fixed in place. It should lie perfectly flat at about 1/16" above your shirts.
4) Screens must be tight! I say again, tight! A combination of low mesh count(110) and loose mesh and you will have a mess on your hands.
5) Plastisol inks are inherently viscous. They have something called 'shear'. What that means is that the ink will get smoother and a softer hand the more it is used. If you need to reduce ink only use what is recommended by the manufacturer. Playing around with something laying around the house will open you up to trouble. Certainly it will affect the adherence of the ink to the substrate.
6) You never even mention how you cure the ink on the shirts. There is a particular science to that part of the business. It's a pretty narrow window for under cured vs over cured ink. It is not easy to get it exact without the proper tools and measurement devices. Good luck!
7) You mention ink bleeding through the screen image. That is primarily something that happens with polyester garments. It is called sublimation. The dyes from the shirt are turned to gas during the drying process and migrate into the ink. That can happen immediately or take as long as 5 or 6 days to occur. The solution is to use an ink that cures at a lower temperature and will cure before the shirt color sublimates out.
If you are experiencing it with cotton shirts then the correct solution is to go to a higher mesh and print a lesser amount of ink, pass the shirt under a flash cure unit then do a second print over the first. That does assume that you have your screens locked down and it will register exactly for the second print. Be aware that cotton and especially tri-blends will exhibit some shrinkage under the flash. Do a pre-flash before you print. That will help a lot.

I will admit that it tickles me a little to see that a startup doesn't have all the answers. After almost 30 years, it's nice that the old dog has a few tricks and knowledge that you young pups could use. If you are ever in Vermont, let me know and I'll gladly help you out.
 
Old February 10th, 2020 Feb 10, 2020 10:33:49 AM -   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Issues with Screen Printing (Total Newbie)

Thanks! I'm currently trying Micro Registration Techniques. And I use a Heat Gun to cure my shirts after they've been printed. I have a TON if fibrillation. How do I fix that?
 
Old February 10th, 2020 Feb 10, 2020 10:46:51 AM -   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Issues with Screen Printing (Total Newbie)

Micro registration is usually reserved for advanced printing. It is intended to make registration faster on the press. If you are curing your prints with a heat gun then 'fast' is not part of the conversation.
A heat gun will certainly cure the ink but I hope you also have a infrared thermometer. If you're just guessing then you are doomed to fail eventually. Normal plastisol has to get to 320 degrees to cure fully. 300 degrees and your print will crack and peel because it will not be adhered well to the shirt. 340 degrees and the ink will be over cured and crack a flake off. This probably won't happen until the shirts have been washed and dried a couple of times and you will have unhappy customers.
If you are getting fibrillation there are probably two causes. The first being that you aren't using enough pressure to drive the ink into the fabric. The other cause is too little tension on the screen and/or lack of any off-contact between the shirt and the screen. If you put the screen down to the shirt, there should be a very slight gap between the bottom of the screen and the shirt. Tension allows the screen to snap off the shirt after the squeegee goes past. If your tension is too low the screen won't release and the ink surface will have an 'orange peel' texture.
 
Old February 10th, 2020 Feb 10, 2020 2:34:27 PM -   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Issues with Screen Printing (Total Newbie)

Quote:
Originally Posted by phuzzy1deep
Thanks! I'm currently trying Micro Registration Techniques. And I use a Heat Gun to cure my shirts after they've been printed. I have a TON if fibrillation. How do I fix that?
I thought you said you had all the right tools... Using a heat gun for curing surely isn't the right tool.
Anyway, fibrillation is normal for a newbie. Use the "print flash print" method for now... and you will eventually figure it out by yourself.
 






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