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Screen Printing with Air-Dry Inks

Posted by Dawn Dellinger - Customer Service on 4/12/2016
Air dry screen printing inks are a whole category of specialty inks that work well on substrates and materials that standard plastisol, poly, and silicone inks do not have acceptable performance on.

When selecting the proper screen printing ink for a job, the substrate, or materiel being printed, is your primary guiding factor in your choice of ink type.  Cotton material gets, of course, a cotton ink.   Likewise a poly garment will require a poly ink or perhaps one of our new silicone inks.  There are even additives for standard inks for materials like nylon, that will give excellent adhesion to products such as umbrellas.  

But what if you are wanting to print on a plastic (Coroplast) sign, or on certain types of plastic bags?  Such items would almost certainly ruin in a typical screen printing setup, as melting would occur during the curing process of running the material through a conveyor dryer.  Air dry inks are exactly as the name would imply, they are a series of inks that do not require high temperatures to cure like other inks do.  When using these inks there are some considerations to both your screen printing equipment and also to you technique that you need to be aware of.  

First, you need to know the limitations of the air dry ink you have selected.  All of the Air Dry inks that Texsource sells online includes exactly what materials the ink will print to, so you should first read that carefully.  Secondly, you should be aware that these inks are far thinner than what you may be used to when dealing with standard plastisol inks.  So much so that it is recommended you start with a very high mesh count screen.  We recommend starting at around a 280 mesh count or higher.  This will keep the ink from running through the screen and ruining your print job.  

Next is the cleanup stage.  As these inks dry without heat curing, you cannot simply leave your screens out as you can with other inks.  The ink will dry and can sometimes make reclaim a real pain, so if you are running a print job, make the extra effort to reclaim your screens immediately after use.  This will save you considerable time, effort, and cleaning chemicals later.  

Printing with Air Dry inks can give your business an added dimension of printing that will give a competitive advantage over shops who refuse such work because they may be unfamiliar with the products or techniques.  With proper foresight the job can be easy, and cleanup a breeze.  

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