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How to cure plastisol ink with a flash dryer

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When it comes to screen printing equipment there are a lot of cost-efficient alternatives to expensive equipment. The DIY screen printing movement has gained a lot of momentum recently and while using a flash dryer isn’t exactly “DIY” I think it’s safe to say it is a common tool used by this type of resourceful thrifty printer. Today we dive into the benefits of the flash dryer and how to properly use one for your first graphic print.


Why use a flash dryer to cure ink?


Screen Printing equipment can be expensive! Print shops use conveyor dryers which are a lot of dough, a typically entry level unit starts at $1,400. If you are just starting to screen print this is a big investment. Thankfully there is a more affordable option and one that takes up a little less room in your shop/garage. The flash dryer! Flash dryers are less expensive, take up less space on the floor and effectively get the job done. 


Flash dryers are typically used to, you guessed it…flash dry ink. In case you didn’t know what this means, it is a procedure in screen printing when you print a base layer of ink and then flash the base with heat to slightly gel the ink before printing a new color on top of the ink.


The flash dryer is versatile in that it can also be used to cure your ink completely if the heat settings are correctly applied for the right amount of time.


Before jumping into how to use the flash dryer it is important to understand how plastisol ink works and why it needs to be cured.


How plastisol ink works?


Once you place your ink onto the screen, it sits there until applied to the garment/substrate using a squeegee to pass ink through the mesh. The ink is then bonded and solidified with heat (for example with a flash drier.) It's crucial to remember that these ties are permanent once the heat is applied, and the ink will not wash out. While it is permanent with heat it is important to note that without heat the plastisol ink is not bonded to the substrate and will simply wash off. Once plastisol ink is bonded with heat it cannot be separated from its substrate. There are special chemicals that will help with mis prints and spot removal of ink however they are harsh and typically hazardous, and you must be delicate when removing it.


This post originally appeared on Screen Print Direct.

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