I am considering printing one color t shirts (also sweat shirts, totes, and lingerie) using acrylic ink, and am wondering about curing techniques.
In the community shop I work out of, people use guerilla techniques, tossing the shirts into a dryer, or using an iron.
While Iím definitely not going to be standing over an ironing board, I have given some consideration to the dryer option. People who use it swear it works. People say that theyíve washed their shirts several times without fading. Their opinion is that if the ink were to wash out, that it would do so noticeably within the first few washes
This sounds both interesting and economical, but I wouldnít want to sell anyone a t shirt that was prone to fading after repeated washing.
I have considered getting a heat press, but most of the things Iíve read suggest that this is more for transfers or flash dried plastisol, or vinyl.
What are peoplesí experiences with heat presses and air dried acrylic ink?
If it is viable, what are the best durations and temperatures to use? And if I tried to print on lingerie, would the heat affect the elasticity?
Also, Iíve read that washing shirts before you print with acrylic ink can create a better bond, since the first washing removes sizing from the shirts, which might somewhat inhibit bonds. Thoughts on that?
I usually run plastisol in my shop so all my equipment is geared towards that. However, when I do need to print waterbased shirts I run em through my conveyor first then throw em on the heat press and that works just fine. I realize you don't have a a conveyor dryer but if you are going to use a heat press, you'll have to get the garments somewhat cured before you press. I'd suggest using a heat gun. They actually work pretty well because of the forced air it uses. However it's easy to miss areas of your print.
get a catalyst and add a drop to your ink. this bonds the ink particles together making it more difficult for the ink to wash out. if you add it to your ink, it's only gona last for the next 12 hours or so bc it becomes one big booger. everything else can be ghetto with water based. hang your shirts on hangars while printing the others and when they're all dry to the touch throw 'em in the dryer for an added sense of security.
depends what ink, but Josh is right. We use speedball, TAL (TW), and international coatings Aquasoft, and Permaset. they all work, put the dryer on hottest setting and leave in for an hour. TEST before you do your production.
I wasn't able to track down any information about catalysts; any would be appreciated.
However, I did find a heat press, the Geo Knight DK 20a, that has a hover feature in which the heat platen can be positioned just above the fabric for a period of time (the video suggested 30 seconds) for a flash cure before clamping down for the full cure. This press also has auto release.
Whereas my original plan involved printing in the community print shop and then bringing the air dried shirts to my off site work space, the video I saw on this seems to recommend doing this with still wet ink. This makes sense to me since (I think) the top ink will be flash dried, while the bottom part of the ink, while still wet, will be pushed into the fabric and weave of the shirt and be cured/dried/hardened more solidly into the shirt. Does this reasoning seem accurate?
I'm thinking that, with this heat press, I could 1) print ten shirts (or other garments), 2) push the ink to the back of the screen, 3) spritz the image area with water to keep the image area from crusting over with ink 4) flash cure then full cure the ten shirts, and 5) squeegee the ink though the screen onto newsprint to clear the spritzed screen, and repeat as needed. I don't think this method would require a catalyst.
From what I have been able to understand, George Knight has a good reputation for quality and support.
Any feedback as to how those of you with experience think this might work out would be appreciated.