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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

Is anyone out there using a tunnel dryer instead of a heat press to cure their shirts?

I have been told that you need the pressure from the heat press to seal the design but i have read other people use tunnel dryers.

Does anyone use a tunnel dryer?
Would it effect the washability factor of the ink on the shirts?
 

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Any good conveyor dryer with circulating air will cure the inks just fine. You need to make sure the dryer is long enough to support longer dwell times.

I believe most DTG manufacturers now specify time/temp curing times when using a conveyor dryer.

A good commercial dryer is going to run you at least $6,000 for electric and well over $10k for gas. Gas dryers are hands down the best method to cure waterbased inks.

If you're just running small production quantities, stick with a heat press.

Just remember, there is a difference between "drying" and "curing". Once an ink coating is "dry", only then will additional heat "cure" it.
 

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we tunnel cure rather than heat press.

The only difference we've encountered is the overall feel after curing. if you press a garment, you compress it which changes the overall feel compared to a tunnel.

bottom line for us is pressing is too damn slow!
 

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This applies ONLY to cure DTG printed shirts using White ink or, CMYK with White under base.. There is no difference when printing CMYK only on garments.

When you tunnel dry, it allows the surface texture of the shirt to affect the texture of the ink. The result is a feeling more like that of traditional screen printing.

When you heat press, the result is a much more "latex-ish" or "rubbery" feel. If its done with a smooth piece of Teflon, it picks up a very slick and sticky feel.
The sticky surface can be eliminated by using a sheet of parchment paper as a release. The print will pick-up the matte finish will no longer have the sticky feel, but will still be rubbery.

You can also "hover cure" with a heat press, but because heat presses are made to transfer heat by contact, it will take much longer.

In my opinion, a conveyor dryer is the absolute winner when curing DTG white ink prints.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for all of your input guys.


I was told by the supplier that you need that pressure to cure the inks and give the print its longevity.


Have you tunnel dryer users ever had a problem with wash tests etc?
 

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We use the dupont inks. We failed at tunnel drying. The pressure seems to cure the ink in a manner that survives our wash test procedure.

I know the ink from Brother and Kornit is tunnel approved by the manufacturer. We have Vastex dryers, and tried numerous temps and speeds.

Wash out was pre-mature in all cases.

Just our results.
 

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we've done a lot of wash tests with press v tunnel.

In fairness to both processes, they are all lasting really well so longevity wise....no difference to us really.

from our point of view the only reason we would use a press to cure is if a customer requested a particular finish!
 

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we tunnel cure rather than heat press.

The only difference we've encountered is the overall feel after curing. if you press a garment, you compress it which changes the overall feel compared to a tunnel.

bottom line for us is pressing is too damn slow!
We are also looking for drying method.
Can you tell us which dryer you use with Success ?

We also looked at Vastex. D 100 or BD-30
the Vastx 200cfm exhaust is an option for under 200 bocks.
 

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scratch whatever I have said about tunnel drying in the past.

We had a disaster with an order that was returned after the print came off. Since then I have reevaluated how we pretreat and cure the final product.

Sadly, our K3 has seriously let us down over the last couple of days. Our white ink has basically stopped flowing and I am at a loss to why. As usual there is a job on the machine (a big one too), if i dont get the white moving by tomorrow morning, we'll lose the order.

I started our DTG journey very upbeat but over the last couple of months I have lost a little faith in it. Hopefully we'll be up and running tomorrow
 

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scratch whatever I have said about tunnel drying in the past.

We had a disaster with an order that was returned after the print came off. Since then I have reevaluated how we pretreat and cure the final product.

Sadly, our K3 has seriously let us down over the last couple of days. Our white ink has basically stopped flowing and I am at a loss to why. As usual there is a job on the machine (a big one too), if i dont get the white moving by tomorrow morning, we'll lose the order.

I started our DTG journey very upbeat but over the last couple of months I have lost a little faith in it. Hopefully we'll be up and running tomorrow
Wow.. Does this mean heat press drying for Dupont inks ?
What about Heat, with Air flow, vs infra red tunnel vs drawer type ?
Not sure what a K3 is, but hope you get the white moving..
vacuum checking etc..
 

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OMG... no friggin way I will quit before that, way too long a process for a tee shirt.

Gotta be a better way.
Sahara6 from AA is $7995.00 MSRP , I just wanted to see if there was a $2,000 way or a $4000 way to do this ?
Lawsons Digi dri box ?
 

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We use the dupont inks. We failed at tunnel drying. The pressure seems to cure the ink in a manner that survives our wash test procedure.

I know the ink from Brother and Kornit is tunnel approved by the manufacturer. We have Vastex dryers, and tried numerous temps and speeds.

Wash out was pre-mature in all cases.

Just our results.

As a Neoflex user, have you looked at or considered the AllAmerican Sahara Six Drier for the Neo prints ?
 

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Not sure how much faster a conveyor dryer is vs. a heat press. Easier, yes. It takes us on average 60 seconds to print a full front single pass color image (no white). Add 15 seconds to thread, align & remove the shirt. It takes 90 seconds under the heat press to cure the ink. So there is a small wait time from printer to press. It takes 3 to 4 minutes for a shirt to go through a conveyor dryer. The advantage is that you can just "toss" the shirt on the dryer and forget about it. On shirts with a white under base, the print time exceeds the cure time on a heat press so the printing is the slower process. The shirt is cured and off the press waiting for the next shirt to complete printing. Again, it's easier just to "toss" the shirt onto the conveyor. Sure it's easier, but not sure if it's faster, better or justifiable with a conveyor. I think that in the DTG world, a heat press or two is the way to go. Not a fan of the clam shell presses, but the Hotronix Air Fusion is the way to go, in my opinion. Having said all this, I'm intrigued by the Vastex Little Red X-3D and may give it a shot anyway.
 

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Heat press curing is fast and thorough. However, it tends to give a more latex-ish feel to the print. Conveyor curing gives a softer 'finish' that more closely simulates screen printing.
Nothing wrong with either way. It's up to the ultimate purchaser's preference. Put a heat press cured shirt next to a conveyor dryer cured shirt, and see which one a customer will 'buy'. 9 times out of 10, they will choose the conveyor cured shirt.

Also, with digital printers getting faster, you need to purchase longer conveyors to keep up with print speeds. Same has been try for 45 years with screen printing. Dryer needs to match production speed. Not the other way around.
 

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We used the Lawson Digi-Dry box. It is great and we had the shirts come out with the nice screen print feel. However, I would say it was not significantly faster than the heat press we were using. It was nice having the automatic timer on the Digi-Dry Box so the heat automatically shut off. I cannot tell you the amount of times our heat press operator was curing a shirt and went to answer the phone...

While the Digi-Dry box suited our needs at first, we eventually wanted something quicker so worked out a deal with Lawson to trade in the Digi-Dry box for their Digi-Star conveyor dryer. I am glad we made the switch. This dryer works fantastically for both the DTG ink and when we pre-treat shirts in large batches.
 

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We have a Vaxtex Little Red X-3D. We like using it much better than a heat press. We were using an air fusion heat press. Yes, it is in the tunnel at least as long it the shirt would be under a heat press, but you can fit multiple shirts in the tunnel at once since as soon as the first one enters the tunnel you can drop the second one on the conveyor. Also you just drop in and forget it. You don't need to load onto a heat press, hover, press multiple times, and unload the heat press.

In addition to the speed and ease of use, we get a better product. We also use it dry pretreat, then just press for a few seconds before we print to flatten the fibers. This method, for the most part, eliminates any pretreat boxes or heat press boxes so you get a much more presentable product for the customer. You might still see a tiny bit on some of the most difficult colors.

As far as the feel of the finished product, with color only you see no difference. For white ink prints, it is rougher but not it a bad way. Almost more like screen printing. If you need to get the smooth, shiny look of a heat press you can just put it in the heat press for a few seconds to flatten it.

Overall we really like the change to a conveyor dryer and would never go back. We use the same dryer for our screen printing so it's dual purpose for us.
 

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We have a Vaxtex Little Red X-3D. We like using it much better than a heat press. We were using an air fusion heat press. Yes, it is in the tunnel at least as long it the shirt would be under a heat press, but you can fit multiple shirts in the tunnel at once since as soon as the first one enters the tunnel you can drop the second one on the conveyor. Also you just drop in and forget it. You don't need to load onto a heat press, hover, press multiple times, and unload the heat press.

In addition to the speed and ease of use, we get a better product. We also use it dry pretreat, then just press for a few seconds before we print to flatten the fibers. This method, for the most part, eliminates any pretreat boxes or heat press boxes so you get a much more presentable product for the customer. You might still see a tiny bit on some of the most difficult colors.

As far as the feel of the finished product, with color only you see no difference. For white ink prints, it is rougher but not it a bad way. Almost more like screen printing. If you need to get the smooth, shiny look of a heat press you can just put it in the heat press for a few seconds to flatten it.

Overall we really like the change to a conveyor dryer and would never go back. We use the same dryer for our screen printing so it's dual purpose for us.

We used the Vastex X3D conveyor dryer with 54 inch wide belt at our booth at the ISS Long Beach Show in January. Put printed shirts 2 across on the belt and it did a fine job drying the output from 3 printers we were printing on. Conveyor drying is a very viable method for dtg production.

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