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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently decided to start using water based inks for certain jobs and possibly even switch over from plastisol almost completely. I started a job yesterday w water based and before doing any research I basically treated it just as I would plastisol ink. The job is just white ink on black shirts. I did a print flash print and then ran it through the conveyor dryer (not forced air) at about 350. I did slow down the dryer a bit more than when curing plastisol so it was probably in there for about 2 mins. Before printing the whole job I took 2 of the shirts into the wash and they came out looking and feeling great.

But after doing some research online people are saying that’s not sufficient to heat set water based inks? Some people are saying you HAVE to use a forced air dryer. Others are saying you have to let them air dry and then cure them with a heatpress or heat gun? Or run them through the conveyor dryer twice? So now even though after one wash these shirts look fine I’m worried that i didn’t cure them correctly and that after a few more washes they may not last? Or maybe they’ll be totally fine? I always assumed water based ink was easier to cure than plastisol since it basically dries out on its own. I have done a couple water based jobs in the past curing them as I just mentioned and had no complaints, but now that I’m really diving into this I want to make sure I’m doing things correctly.

Any help/thoughts/reassurance would be greatly appreciated. Sorry this post is so long…
 

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An infrared dryer will work but you need to slow down your dryer where the garment is under 320 degrees heat for 3 minutes. If you can't get your belt to go that slow, then putting garment through twice is a viable option.

If you've already printed and shipping your first order, nothing you can do about it now. Chances are it will work out fine.
 

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But after doing some research online people are saying that’s not sufficient to heat set water based inks? Some people are saying you HAVE to use a forced air dryer. Others are saying you have to let them air dry and then cure them with a heatpress or heat gun?
Here is how it works...
Water-based inks will only cure once all the water is removed. This is because the water acts as a coolant.
How you remove the water or what you use as a heat source is irrelevant.
You could even let the ink air dry, and then cure with a regular conveyor dryer or a heat press.
 

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What WB ink are you using? Some cure a bit easier than others. That said, your equipment is fine. For sanity's sake you might want to do a test where you lower dwell time to the point of failure, just so you know how much safety margin you have built into your process. If you change your inks, make sure to test again.

I have a normal flash, no forced air. I cure with a heat press (because of space limitations). I don't leave the shirts lying around drying for 8 hours or any BS like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What WB ink are you using? Some cure a bit easier than others. That said, your equipment is fine. For sanity's sake you might want to do a test where you lower dwell time to the point of failure, just so you know how much safety margin you have built into your process. If you change your inks, make sure to test again.

I have a normal flash, no forced air. I cure with a heat press (because of space limitations). I don't leave the shirts lying around drying for 8 hours or any BS like that.
at the moment I’m using wbtx inks from total ink solutions. Mainly because they had a decent selection of colors. I’m totally open to suggestions of other brands if you or anyone else have any. These aren’t bad but I do plan on trying others and experimenting a bit. I’m curious what time and temp do you cure your shirts using a heatpress? And thanks for your reply
 

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at the moment I’m using wbtx inks from total ink solutions. Mainly because they had a decent selection of colors. I’m totally open to suggestions of other brands if you or anyone else have any. These aren’t bad but I do plan on trying others and experimenting a bit. I’m curious what time and temp do you cure your shirts using a heatpress? And thanks for your reply
I mainly use Permaset Auqa Supercover. Their Supercover line is high opacity, so no underbasing needed over dark garments (though do need to print-flash-print). On the expensive side, but worth it to me. I press it for 1 minute at 340 F. I used to mess around with doing two 45-second pressings in a row so as to lift the press and let steam escape between the two ... but doesn't seem to make a real difference. Other inks seem to require more time, such as Green Galaxy. I'd probably double the time for that.

A heat press imparts heat via direct contact--conduction--as opposed to radiation, so the temperature of heat source and the temperature desired for the target are essentially the same. Whereas a radiant heat source will itself be much hotter than the temp one wants to impart to the target; thus ensues a dance of distance, speed, and time to walk the line between over and under cooking.

The key to happiness with Supercover is to always replace the moisture lost to the air and mesh when you put away your used ink. Else it gradually becomes impossible to work with. Best to keep your virgin unused ink in a separate container so you always have a reference as to what good ink looks like.

If the ink you are using works for you, it works :cool: They all have their own subtle pros and cons, and things they are better/worse at.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I mainly use Permaset Auqa Supercover. Their Supercover line is high opacity, so no underbasing needed over dark garments (though do need to print-flash-print).
Dang really!? That seems too good to be true! Even printing say a yellow or red on a black shirt? No underbase needed and still pretty vibrant? If thats the case I'm gonna try these out for sure. Have you tried Matsui inks by any chance? I've seen some people raving about them on this forum and I'd be interested to hear about any comparisons between the two. thanks again!
 

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I use Matsui discharge base. Works fine.

I've tried their white ink. Results seem pretty similar to Green Galaxy white. Which is to say, not quite as opaque as Supercover and a bit more prone to taking on a shine (that last bit being of more concern when using a heat press to cure).

Yes, yellow was actually my first Supercover color, and it was printed on black shirts :) Previously I had been printing with discharge ink, but wanted to reduce my exposure to the noxious smell of that process, so now reserve discharge for a specific usecase.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yes, yellow was actually my first Supercover color, and it was printed on black shirts :) Previously I had been printing with discharge ink, but wanted to reduce my exposure to the noxious smell of that process, so now reserve discharge for a specific usecase.
Man that is awesome! I just bought a few liters and cant wait to try them out. Thanks so much for the recommendation!
 

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Dang really!? That seems too good to be true! Even printing say a yellow or red on a black shirt? No underbase needed and still pretty vibrant? If thats the case I'm gonna try these out for sure. Have you tried Matsui inks by any chance? I've seen some people raving about them on this forum and I'd be interested to hear about any comparisons between the two. thanks again!
Print/Flash/Print is actually under-basing, it seals the shirt color. As Golds and Yellows often have coverage problems, you could print white underneath, or P/f/P. But as Bob points out, you need to get that water out of there before curing starts.

Steve
 

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I don't leave the shirts lying around drying for 8 hours or any BS like that.
Hmm... I do exactly that for printing various types of transfers, neck labels, etc, because they don't take much space.
I could do the same for t-shirts, but space is more valuable than electricity, so I use my conveyor dryers instead.
The final cure is always done with a heat-press though. A faster and and more reliable method.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Print/Flash/Print is actually under-basing, it seals the shirt color. As Golds and Yellows often have coverage problems, you could print white underneath, or P/f/P. But as Bob points out, you need to get that water out of there before curing starts.

Steve
Yea the inks I was using from Total Ink Solutions were fine but certain colors like tans and yellows wouldn't show up on a black shirt (without underbase) no matter how many times I P/F/P. Just got these Permaset Supercovers in and they are nice and solid after 2 hits. Being able to eliminate the white underbase on certain jobs is going to be a huge time saver
 

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Been using Green Galaxy inks, P/F/P and then 320 on the conveyor with a 3 minute dwell without forced air. Wash test reveals a soft hand and stable, cured print. No complaint from any jobs. I print white underbase on all dark garments otherwise colors look dull, same process, same results.
 

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Been using Green Galaxy inks, P/F/P and then 320 on the conveyor with a 3 minute dwell without forced air. Wash test reveals a soft hand and stable, cured print. No complaint from any jobs.
Forced air is only necessary for infrared dryers.
Dwell time depends on the amount of ink (more ink=more water to evaporate).
 

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I have an infrared dryer, just no forced air. It cures water based ink just fine as I have described it.
And where does the steam go? :unsure:
I don't know how you do it... maybe your prints have very little ink.
In any case, even 3 minutes is too long for people like me. I'm used to the 45 seconds plastisol cure.
My Conveyor+press method takes 1.5 minutes per shirt, but I have 2 conveyor dryers so it's still one shirt every 45 seconds.
 

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I haven't been on here for a long time. Anyway, you can certainly cure without forced air and you can certainly cure with an infrared dryer. I've been doing WB only prints for years on a retail level and have never had issues with properly cured prints. The key to the infrared system is to have a shorter, non-insulated tunnel and an exhaust to extract. I've been using my Vastex Ec-1 and it works fantastically. 2 minute cures but you have to figure out how to work it into your workflow. Where you DO want forced air is on conveyors with long, insulated tunnels that trap the air inside.
 
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