Curing your garments may seem like a simple process; however, it’s one of the essential steps when screen printing. If your prints are not cured correctly, they will crack and peel plus perform poorly in a wash & rub fastness tests. Not ideal if you have just secured a new customer or produced 10,000 garments!
The most common way to cure your garments is via Tunnel dryer; this can be in the form of electric and gas depending on what utilities you have available. Many screen printing shops use tunnel dryers so they can achieve maximum output without the worry of under curing the garments. However, it’s always best to check your tunnel regularly to ensure it’s hitting the correct out temperature. Commonly water-based inks take longer to cure than plastisol and its also super important to have good airflow around the heating section.
This helps remove the condensation from the ink from the tunnel allowing for an excellent reliable cure. If you are using a tunnel dryer with not so good airflow you can use a low cure additive that will bring the temperature down; this means you won’t have to pass through the dryer several times.
Many manual presses use a flash unit to cure the garments due to the smaller output from the press and its a good option too if you are starting screen printing. They provide consistent heat across the surface of the print, which is what’s needed to give a good ink cure. When setting the flash to cure your prints, you need to consider several different factors such as are the pallets hot, room temperature, type of flash, type of garments and ink used. Using a low cure additive will help reduce the risk of an under cure as it will chemically cure the inks within 48 hours once it been flashed to touch dry.
When using new products, it’s always best to perform a wash test on a shirt; the most common within the industry is to wash and tumble dry three times to see how the garment performs. This might seem over the top but its best option to ensure you don’t waste time, money and potentially losing customers!