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Tips for Wet-on-Wet Screen Printing

Posted by Mary Yaeger on 7/26/2017

Posted by Mary Yaeger - 8/2/2017

Also seen on Printwear 

One of the greatest features of plastisol ink is the ability to dive into the world of wet on wet printing. Your shop is filled with orders and you are looking for a way to cut down on wasted time and get products out faster to your customers. Welcome to wet on wet printing. Being able to print wet on wet simply means that you can print successive colors without necessarily having to flash in between colors. Now, there will always be outlier print jobs (especially with dark colored garments) that will require you to flash layers, but the general advantage of wet on wet printing is avoiding the flash cure. Doing so will save you time, money and ensure that your customers get their products quickly.

The Print Order

A general rule of thumb for screen printing is to print light layers first and finish with the dark layers. It is also best practice to print from the smallest stencil to the largest. This all depends on the amount of detail that you have in your overall image. Screens with less image detail should print first. Inversely, screens with the most detail need to be printed last. This ensures that you are able to print a large design without worrying about excessive ink build up.

 Ink Smears

What you will notice with wet on wet printing is that your screens will grab ink from previous layers. This could bring your whole production to a halt if you are not careful. What happens is that thick ink layers will cause the screen to stick to the ink and smear the color. It is normal for the screens to pick up some colors from previous layers, but too much build up will smear the whole print or block out pars of the screen – ruining the stencil.

There are a few things you can do to avoid this from happening:

  •       Choose a high mesh count screen (200+) with high tension
  •       Use a thin ink deposit
  •       Put light pressure on your squeegee

Over the course of your print job make sure to keep your ink layers thin. This reduces the chance of ink being picked up by your screens. Using a base can give the ink a short body that prints well and helps prevent smearing by allowing the ink to penetrate further into the fabric. If you notice that your screens are picking up too much ink, it would be best to take a few minutes to clean the substrate side of your screens to avoid a major headache later on.

Practice Makes Perfect

Best practice will be to print a few test shirts before going into an actual print job. If you have any questions, you can always reach out to your screen printing supplier. They can recommend the right inks for wet on wet printing. If you are having trouble with your screens picking up ink, your supplier can also recommend a reducer to ensure you get a thin ink deposit.

Wet on wet screen printing will allow your shop to work faster and more efficiently, cut down on wasted time and get products more quickly to your customers. The process takes a little patience in the beginning, but that patience will help your shop become more efficient. 

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