It’s a griddle! It’s a panini maker! It’s… a heat press!
Every day heroes hide in plain sight, even in your print shop. Do you look at your heat press and simply see a way of pressing applique items, like heat transfers or vinyl? What if it could be so much more, enough to save those occasional bad prints you end up with?
Imagine it: Somewhere, something went wrong during your printing process. You thought everything was going well, but now you’ve got shirt(s) with a rough, uneven ink layer. Maybe your off contact wasn’t high enough, or your screen’s tension is too low, maybe the wrong mesh count was being used, or your garment was really fibrous. Whatever the case may be, you’re now stuck with a roughly printed shirt that just doesn’t look as good as you want.
Did you know that your heat press (or iron, if you don’t have a heat press!) can swoop in and save you from these rogue prints? It all comes down to how plastisol inks work. They are a thermoplastic type of ink, which means that contact with high enough heat will “re-melt” the ink. This works in your favor if your print layer is not as smooth as you would like.
Whether you’re working with a heat press or an iron, you’ll want to do a quick gel flash. Not too long, just enough to get that print heated back up. Place your teflon over the shirt, set that heat press to 320F, and your pressure to light-medium. If you use too much pressure, you risk ‘smooshing’ your print, potentially changing what it looks like! Give it a quick 8-10 second press If you’re using an iron, do a few passes with light to medium pressure until the print has smoothed out.
Fun and useful fact: If you use a teflon sheet while heat pressing, your ink layer will take on a glossy finish. If you want more of a matte finish, then try using parchment paper instead!
End up with a bad print? Never fear, your heat press hero is here to save the day!
Founded in 2004, Ryonet® is dedicated to empowering creative entrepreneurship in screen printing through industry-leading education, service and support.
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