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How To Properly Cure Water-based Inks

International Coatings GEN IV Screen Printing Ink You've spent time on your design, burned your screens, screen printed your garment and then the ink doesn't last. It slowly starts to wear off with every wash. What could have happened? Is it your ink? All water-based inks sold at Mclogans have been approved by our company and these inks have gone through many strict tests to ensure that we are selling you the best products. So when asked if the ink was at fault the answer is no. Curing water-based inks is what dries them properly, leaving you with a perfect screen printed image with a soft feel and a garment that will last. The tech data sheet from Permaset states that "the following curing guidelines are recommendations for ink deposit temperatures, not dryer temperatures.
  • 2-3 Minutes @ 160oC (320oF) 5-6 Minutes @ 140oC (285oF) 8-9 Minutes @ 120oC (250oF) Fastness."
While this gives most screen printers a basic guideline time and temperature wise, these guidelines don't always work for every job. We always suggest doing a test print before your main screen printing production. Here's what we've found to be more beneficial when screen printing with water-based inks:
  1. Lighter colored garments require a higher mesh count, since you will need less ink. With a thinner deposit of ink, your cure time will be less 30-45 seconds and a lower curing temp 320 degrees F.
  2. Darker colored t-shirts will need more ink to create an opaque print. You will also need a lower mesh count. Cure temperatures will be around 375 degrees F for about 45-60 seconds.
  3. Ensure that the moisture escaping from the ink when cured is properly ventilated. This is where a Ranar forced air dryer is a must!
  4. Once you find the correct temperature and curing time for your test print, use temperature strips to keep your printing productions all uniform.
We would like to hear about your curing times for water-based inks, or any tips that you've found to be helpful. Leave us a comment. :) ranarredstar
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