Curing your prints is one of the last steps of the screen printing process, but it is also one of the most important steps. Ink needs to be cured properly so it sets into the garment. If the ink does not cure properly, it will start to degrade and will not last. Screen printing ink cures at around 320° Fahrenheit. There are two major way that you can cure your print. These two options are using a flash dryer and using a conveyor dryer. While both will get the job done, a conveyor dryer is quicker and more efficient. In both of these cases, you need to have a laser temperature gun on hand.
What is a Laser Temperature Gun
A laser temperature gun is a perfect way to tell if your ink is properly cured. You simply point the laser at the middle of the print to see what temperature the ink is. Once the ink is around 320° Fahrenheit your print is properly cured. The laser temperature gun that Ryonet offers can detect a temperature range of -4°to 605°. It is compact and small enough to fit in your pocket which means more room to store your other supplies.
Curing with a Flash Dryer
Flash dryers are a great way to cure your shirts if you are just starting out in the screen printing business. They are both compact and relatively inexpensive. In order to cure a t-shirt with a flash dryer, you will want to pull your shirt off of the press platen after printing so it is not secured with the adhesive. Leaving the shirt adhered to the platen causes issues with letting the heat penetrate the garment. Lightly lay the shirt over the platen and move the flash dryer over the shirt and begin curing. Pull out your laser temperature gun and aim it at the middle of the print. Once the laser temp gun reads 320° your print is cured and can be removed from under the flash dryer.
Ryonet offers a variety of different flash dryers to fit your needs. They range in sizes from 16X16 to 24X24. If you are starting out in screen printing, check out the 16X16 Ryo Flash Dryer. It is not only affordable but also simple and effective. This flash dryer is easy to set up, has a rotating and adjustable stand, and comes with a one year warranty.
Curing with a Conveyor Dryer
If you have a good amount of shirts to cure or want to speed up your production than a conveyor dryer is the way to go. Conveyor dryers run multiple shirts through at a time which helps speed up production. They usually have two different on-off switches. The first switch is to turn on the conveyor belt and the second is to turn on the heat. You will need to adjust your speed and heat accordingly to the garment and the ink that you are using.
After your conveyor dryer is up and running you can start placing your t-shirts on the belt and letting them run through. Make sure to grab your temperature gun to check that your t-shirts are getting up to 320° Fahrenheit. If the print did not get up to the required temperature, run your shirt through the conveyor dryer again. In order to reduce the amount that you have to re-run your shirts through, adjust your conveyor dryers speed and temperature.
There are some great options for conveyor dryers. One of these options is the Riley Cure Conveyor Dryer. It comes equipped with a four-foot tunnel and a twenty-four-inch belt. This high powered and compact dryer can cure up to 220 shirts per hour. If you are a print shop that is running a higher volume of shirts or an automatic press, check out the ROQTunnel Conveyor Dryer. This conveyor dryer can be optimized for water-based and plastisol ink. One of the best parts about this dryer is that it can save you over 50% a month in utility expenses.
Both flash dryers and conveyor dryers are great options to cure your prints, but keep in mind a laser temp gun is needed to make sure the ink gets up to the proper temperature. For more information on screen printing check out A How to for Screen Printing T-shirts and Folding Your Shirts Using a T-Shirt Folder.