best screenprint industry blogs

Surprisingly there’s not a lot of screen printing industry blogs that share robust information on decorating apparel from the perspective of the shop owner. Most are promoting a clothing line, or printing services primarily. So we decided to do some in-depth research following breadcrumbs from sites and forums to find these gems of screen printing insight. We feel the following articles will be beneficial to anyone looking to gain wisdom, see others problems and solutions for printing custom apparel, and learn growth strategies..

We’ll start off with an article by Brent Bowden of Printed Threads on going green in the screen printing industry. He details how he was concerned about the health of his employees who, as a currently unavoidable situation, are exposed to a litany of potentially unhealthy situations in the process of producing custom apparel. He has worked on implementing solutions in his shop which minimalize or remove potentially dangerous exposure to chemicals.

In the instance of cleaning screens, the residue from images burned into screens to ready them for ink has to be removed. Typically this is done at spray stations, requiring the person manning the spray stations to potentially be exposed to solvents. He was an early adopter of a self-contained screen cleaner which does this work in a closed environment. The chemicals used inside the machine are non VOC which is better for the environment and also saves his shop money because it doesn’t evaporate.

An extensive water filtration system that pushes water used in his shop through a multiple stage cleaning process not only saves him from plumbing issues, it ensures water going into common city drainage is as pure as possible.

He reveals that spray application of cleaning solvents for squeegees, screen openers, and pallet adhesives is flawed. In his shop they opt for alternative applications of these necessary chemicals. Cleaning squeegees is necessary between applications of different colored ink. To tackle this, they have a recirculating sink which allows his printers to simply pour cleaner rather than spray. When the cleaner becomes too contaminated, it’s recycled via a sump pump which pumps out the sediment. The cleaner then gets a new life saving money too.

A pump and wipe plunger eliminates the need for spraying cleaner on screens and also saves on product costs since the excess drains back in to the container, lastly the platen adhesive they use is a spread on kind that can be reactivated by water and agitation. One application last an entire shift. A win, win in a print shop where time is money.

Recycling of chemicals and packaging is a something that all print shops should strive for but we want to extend a special nod to Brent Bowden for implementing an extensive green operation in his shop and sharing how he did it with the rest of us.

Discharge printing is increasingly popular with customers but experienced screen printers tend to prefer plastisol since it’s easier to work with in a variety of environments and situations and is the only mistake free way to match PMS colors. So the challenge how to adapt plastisol to produce the feel of discharge was detailed by the experts at Anatol.

Laying down less ink is one way to achieve a softer hand but less ink requires a harder squeeze to deposit the ink. They recommend a 200- to 230 mesh count screen for this approach to work. Also adaptations to the ink viscosity and speed at which the ink is applied will have to be part of this experiment.

Screen printer products known as reducers and soft-hand can be added to plastisol to soften the feel but additives introduce inconsistencies with the ink color vibrancy so proceed with caution.

Soft-hand base is basically a replacement for your traditional out of the bucket colors. With this method you’ll need to add concentrated color to achieve the desired tint you’re looking for.

Another alternative is to use your base garment color as part of the design to require less ink deposit. This obviously can only be done if you have a close working partnership with your client and can advise them in the area of design.

Other techniques can be employed without the use of additives like matting down the underbase using a smashscreen with a roller squeegee. The motion flattens the fibers that pulled up from the underbase print.

An inline heat press can be utilized to likewise flatten the fibers, protect the print with a Teflon sheet and press with heat a few degrees less than your flash is set.

Finally, printing using the discharge method can be achieved with plastisol ink additives made specifically for this purpose.

With the understanding that customer driven preferences are the catalyst to modifying our plastisol dependent tendencies we really appreciate Anatol taking the time to detail these alternatives for simulated discharge printing results.

If you haven’t heard of Marshall Atkinson, you’re in for a treat. With over 24 years in the decorated apparel business, he’s truly an industry expert; in fact he coaches business on all manner of challenges they might face from attracting new business, to retaining your base, to all kinds of technical evolutions. In the screen printing industry, that’s where a lot of owners may fall behind in particular because we’re often more artists that business owners. Here’s our recap on a blog post that details technology and apps that will help manage and grow your decorated apparel business.

The way we communicate is changing at a rapid pace, email made everything much faster and easier but since then, there a myriad ways that your customer may prefer to exchange information and ideas. We have to adapt to them, not the other way around. Instaply is an app that will allow you to streamline the channels into one and keeps an ongoing record of the communication which is critical when it comes for reorders.

The way we communicate is changing at a rapid pace, email made everything much faster and easier but since then, there a myriad ways that your customer may prefer to exchange information and ideas. We have to adapt to them, not the other way around. Instaply is an app that will allow you to streamline the channels into one and keeps an ongoing record of the communication which is critical when it comes for reorders.

If you have customers that are extremely conscious of color accuracy the D50 series Pantone Lighting Indicator Stickers are must have’s. Although they may be considered costly, if you are doing a large order for a high maintenance customer, these light sensitive patches could make the difference between reprinting an expensive order or losing the customer, neither of which are attractive. With these “tools” you can be sure your client is viewing the color in the correct light.

Pantone color is incredibly important so Pantone now offers a pay for download app that can be used on any mobile devices for on the fly color evaluations. They also offer a for a fee calibration tool but in these days where everybody expects flexibility as well as mobility, it’s an investment worth your while as a screen printer.

There are two companies that offer precise color mixing systems. The systems are based on measurements, not the size of the ink container so you can mix the exact amount of ink needed for a job without leftovers. Wilflex and Rutland are the companies to check out for precise color matching without wasteful over mixing of ink colors.

As avid readers of Marshal Atkinson’s blog, we highly recommend checking out his other posts as you’ll find a wealth of freely given information on how to grow you screen printing business.

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