Technical Support Blog

Help when you need it!

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Do your customers make you look bad?

Polyester printing can make you look bad even if you are taking all of the necessary steps to prevent dye migration. Why? Because your customers are often not following the washing and drying instructions printed on the inside of the shirt. Even if you print with one of the most bleed resistant inks by One Stroke Inks, ignoring this little tag can cause your bright white print to change into a dirty white, pink, or even green print. Screen printers need to do their best to educate their customers on the reasons the tag was sewn or printed in the garment in the first place.

The fabric is not going to self destruct. It will, however, be much more likely to have dye migration problems once it has been washed in hot water and dried too hot. This makes you look bad, even though it is not your fault. It can also make us look bad as our ink may not be holding up as well as advertised. Quite simply, we all need the same thing. We need the end user of these polyester shirts, uniforms, bags, etc. to fully understand the WHY behind the tag in the fabric. I would prefer a neon sign over the box of printed polyester t-shirts that glows brightly with the text “Tumble Dry Low”. “Hang Dry” would be sufficient for most of the lightweight polyester as it dries in just minutes anyway.

I know this is not an easy thing as you do not get to speak with every parent on every team to warn them about our industry and the nuances involved with polyester printing. However, the more you drive this into your customers ears, the more likely they will stop the problem before it starts. We will always keep innovating the polyester inks. We simply need you to help educate as many of your customers as you can. In the end, it will lead to higher quality prints and better longevity.

Nylon Printing

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Screen print nylon without nylon catalyst.

With the 222 Series from One Stroke Inks, you can screen print untreated 100% nylon without the use of a nylon catalyst. Untreated nylon is nylon without any sort of waterproof or water resistant coating. The 222 Series is unique for more than just its great adhesion, it also tells you when it is cured. The print will be glossy once it is fully cured. If the print comes off the conveyor belt and is not glossy, it is simply not fully cured and you should send it back through your dryer at a higher temperature.

Heat Pressing Polyester

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Heat press damaging polyester shirts.

You must be very careful when heat pressing 100% polyester tees and uniforms. If the press is too hot or the pressure too high, you are likely to leave glossy areas on the fabric. You may also experience indented lines on the shirt where the edges of the transfer paper or heat press material meet the fabric. The best option to avoid all of this is to use kraft paper as a cover sheet and limit the time and temperature as much as possible. Heat press material such as Siser Easyweed is applied at a lower temperature than most. Also, new cold peel ink transfers can often press at much lower temperatures.

Reclaiming Powder

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Mixing instructions for reclaiming powder.

The OSI Reclaiming Powder is the most economical emulsion reclaiming chemical per gallon once mixed.  For the standard solution, mix 2 ounces of reclaiming powder with 1 gallon of water.  If you would like a stronger solution, try mixing 1 pound of the powder with 5 gallons of water.  This is great for tough-to-remove emulsion.

Ink Drying in the Screen

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Ink is drying in the screen.

When ink is drying in the screen during a production run, it is most likely caused by the platens heating up excessively. This is a tricky problem as you may be underbasing with white ink or even two screens of white ink. A cool down station may be necessary cool the print and stop the ink from heating up in the screen. If you want to continue with a very fast production, you can try the Production Series inks by One Stroke Inks. These inks will flash and lose their tack in half the time of normal plastisol ink. This keeps the platens cooler and allows production to keep moving. Production Series can help you on cotton, poly/cotton, nylon, and polyester. If you do not want to change inks, test the flash and get it to the quickest possible flash time that you can without the ink remaining wet or tacky. If the ink drying problem is not related to production and you are simply leaving ink in the screen overnight, simply clean the screens at the end of the day. Most inks will clog the mesh when left for this long. Also, you open your screens up to the risk of excessive hazing problems.

Siser Easyweed

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Heat pressing multi-color designs.

When you decide on a specific heat press material that you want to work with, it is important to keep in mind that many materials will not work when they are layered in two or more color designs.  Also, if the material is a cold peel, you will be forced to wait for long periods before heat pressing the second (and sometimes third) color.  This is why I recommend the Siser Easyweed for two and more color designs.  The Easyweed is pressed at a low temperature (305F) and peeled hot.  Even more important, you can heat press the first color for only 2 seconds before peeling and pressing a second color.  This speeds up the entire heat press process.  Other benefits in heat pressing material this way include less shrinking of the fabric and protecting the fabric from color changing and other damage.

Heat Press Material

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Difficulty weeding heat press material.

When cut properly, heat press material should not be difficult to weed.  Numerous factors are involved including blade depth, force, speed, blade sharpness, and many more.  If you follow each of these steps, weeding will be much easier and faster every time.  First, make sure the blade depth is correct.  The blade should only stick out of the blade holder far enough to cut the film and scratch the surface of the clear carrier.  Test this by taking the blade holder out of the machine and cutting a circle in the heat press material using your hand.  If the blade cuts through the material and the carrier, it is out too far.  From here, put the blade holder back in the machine and adjust the force.  This is where the test button on the cutter will help you.  Test every 20 grams of force and see which force weeds the test cut the best.  Once the blade depth and force are properly set, check the speed setting.  You can cut fast with films such as Siser Easyweed.  When it comes to glitters, metallic, and reflective, a slower speed is recommended.  I have some other general troubleshooting to offer in regards to cutting.  If the heat press material is cut but the cut lines look more like tear lines, check the cutter protection strip.  If this is damaged, replace it and your cutting lines will be much cleaner.  If it looks ok, check the blade.  Perhaps it is dull and needs replacing.  Finally, if all else fails, put a drop of oil in the blade holder.  The blade may not be spinning freely.  When it is not facing the correct direction, the cuts are typically very jagged.

Ink Cracking


Why is my ink cracking?

When you are experiencing ink cracking, 99% of the time the ink is under-cured.  This is the time when you need to ask yourself how you are testing the temperature of your dryer.  There are only two acceptable ways to test your conveyor dryer.  First, try using Thermolabels.  These handy stickers will measure the ink at 290F up to 330F with a temperature indicator every 10 degrees.  Once the 320F indicator is completely black, the ink should be cured.  Place the Thermolabel next to the print for best results.  The second test is by using an Atkins heat probe.  This “donut” probe has two cross wires that are designed to be placed in the plastisol ink.  A hand-held device will give you the temperature readings as it goes all the way through the dryer.  Once the ink has reached 320F, it should be fully cured.  Please notice I did not mention a temperature gun.  This will only measure the surface temperature of the ink and this does not ensure the ink has been cured.  Other causes of ink cracking include printing the ink too thin for the fabric, over-curing (not common), and using the wrong ink for the job.  Screen printing stretchy fabrics may require a special stretchable ink.

Emulsion Pinholes

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Emulsion pinholes.

If you are experiencing pinholes in your newly exposed screens, you should look into your degreasing process.  If there is anything left on your screen after the previous reclaiming process, you will experience pinholes, fish-eye, poor adhesion, and many other negative impacts.  Always use as much water as possible when degreasing to be sure all of the chemicals and grime are out of your screen.  Do keep in mind that pressure washers do not put out nearly as much water as it appears.  Other causes include a dirty exposure glass and dust where your screens are drying. 

Screen Chemicals

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Screens are difficult to reclaim.

If your emulsion is very difficult to reclaim (or even impossible) you may want to look at your exposure time along with the chemicals you are using to remove ink.  Harsh ink removers can harden some emulsions to the point that they will be very difficult to reclaim.  If you combine harsh ink removers with an under-exposed screen, it may never reclaim at all.  Screen Opener is a cleaner that you should not use very often.  If you are using it to clean ink out of an entire screen in situations such as color changes, reclaiming may always be difficult.  Some emulsions will resist this more than others.  If you find screen opener very quick to work with and you want to continue cleaning this way, call us for a more solvent resistant emulsion.  One more important note, if you spray emulsion reclaimer on your screen and let it dry before rinsing the emulsion out, it will lock the emulsion into the screen.