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Drying/Curing Water Based Inks

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Drying/Curing Water Based Inks

Postby kerrynyc » Sat Aug 20, 2011 1:12 pm

I am wondering the process of curing/drying water based inks on canvas tote bags. I've been hearing/reading so many different process but have yet to find any suitable answers, maybe someone here can be of some help.

I am looking to buy Ryonets Semi-Pro screen printing package, and I want to go the "Enviro Way" and get the water based inks and chemicals, as I like a softer hand feel on garments and accessories rather than the rougher texture of standard plastisol. The issue of curing is my main concern. The Semi-Pro package includes a 16x16" flash dryer yet I don't know if it will suffice in terms of curing water based inks. A rep from Ryonet contacted me and said the flash will work fine for the WB inks, but I am not convinced as I have read elsewhere that a simple flash dryer isn't enough.

Does anyone have legitimate experience when it comes to drying/curing water based inks on garments/canvas? I know there are many variables to consider, such as ink pigment and shirt/canvas texture, room temperature and things of this nature... but any help is greatly appreciated.

Many thanks!
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Re: Drying/Curing Water Based Inks

Postby anthemscreenprinting » Sat Sep 03, 2011 2:56 pm

Not surprisingly, Ryonet's reps don't know what they're talking about! No, a standard flash dryer will not properly cure water based ink. You need air flow to evaporate the water in the ink as well as heat to cure it. A standard flash dryer only provides the heat, so it won't work. What you need is either a forced air flash dryer or a catalyst to add to the water based ink that makes it cure properly by simply air drying. Problem is, these catalysts can be hard to find :/ You can also use a heat gun since it provides the two necessary items (air flow and heat), but this method can be time consuming and can yield poor results if you don't hit each part of the design for the proper amount of time.
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Re: Drying/Curing Water Based Inks

Postby tpitman » Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:26 am

Two things. A 16x16 flash is the bare minimum in size of a flash for curing any ink, unless the prints are small. You usually will overcure the center and undercure the edges. The largest you can afford is best, and will save you having to buy a larger one later.
I wouldn't say that you can't cure waterbased with a flash, but, as noted above, an uneven cure is quite possible. I have a small conveyor without forced air, and I've cured both regular waterbased and discharge with it. The trick is to set the belt speed low enough to keep the shirt in the oven for a minimum of 90 seconds, and, in the case of discharge, keep the temps close to the recommended temperature . . . not too hot, but definitely not too low. Raise the end panels on the hood to allow moisture to escape. Not as efficient as a gas oven or an electric with forced air, for sure, but doable. However you do it, you've got to allow for the moisture to evaporate, then for the ink to cure.
One other thing. Using waterbased ink isn't necessarily more ecofriendly than plastisol. Everybody thinks it is because it SOUNDS like it must be. Washing lots of waterbased ink down the drain does nothing positive for the environment. Plastisol, once cured, presents very little environmental impact, and your screen is generally fairly free of ink before it hits the reclaim sink.
Environmental impact hinges mostly on your shop cleanup procedures, more so than the type of ink you use.
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