Step 6: Drying and Curing Your Print
Welcome to Art2Silkscreen's first series of tutorials on how to properly screen print your designs.
For today's blog, we are going to take you through how best to dry and cure your print. Please pay close attention to this stage as it will make your garment the best quality possible with your design completely wash proof.
Before we start, we must clarify the difference between "drying" and "curing" your print as they are different from one another, mainly in temperature. For freshly printed designs, a touch (or flash) dry is usually between 100 and 110 degrees celsius, while the same design will fully cure at 153 degrees.
Some plastisol inks can take longer to fully cure, so be sure to read the instructions carefully before carrying out each stage.
1: Using a Heat Gun (Touch Dry)
By "heat gun", we mean a regular paint stripper heat gun. For this stage, we recommend that only use a heat gun for drying and not fully curing. The reason for this is because it is difficult to regulate temperatures with a heat gun meaning it can go over the limit for curing and burn your garment.
For touch crying, however, it is a pretty cost-effective and popular method. If you do use one, make sure it is on the moderate setting so as not to burn yourself or the garment. Just quickly turn it on and apply it to all the edges of the design.
This is perfect if you're producing a garment for your own project or if you're working on a small line of promotional t-shirts. However, if you intend to sell the garment, fully curing them is perhaps the most effective and quality measure.
2: Using a Flash/Tunnel Dryer (Touch Dry)
In this demonstration, we are using a flash dryer, however, a tunnel dryer will work just as well, if not better, at touch drying your garment. Making sure the touch dryer is four centimetres away from the garment, turn your flash dryer on.
With your laser thermometer, point it directly at the logo of the shirt to measure how hot it is getting. Again, the ideal temperature for touch drying is between 100 and 110 degrees.
Anything a little above that is fine, but 100 degrees should be more than enough as this process you carry out only between layers, not to fully cure the whole product.
3: Using a Flash/Tunnel Dyer (Fully Cure)
Now, to fully cure your shirt, you will need to put it under the flash dryer again for longer. With touch drying, it takes around four seconds under the dryer, while fully curing your print takes around seven seconds.
Once again, keep an eye on the temperature. The ideal temperature for curing is over 153 degrees celsius. Be sure not to take it above 200 degrees as this can destroy the quality of your print and cause the plastisol to disintegrate.
4: Using a Heat Press (Fully Cure)
A heat press is an excellent way to fully cure your design. It is best used for only curing, however, and is not recommended for touch dry. To use the heat press, place your t-shirt onto the machine after removing it from your printing carousel. Make sure it is nicely wrapped around the plate.
In this demonstration, we are setting the heat press to 158 degrees to allow a five-degree fluctuation. This is simply to ensure that your product is fully cured at a temperature of 153 degrees. Setting the press on medium, bring it down and secure it onto the garment. Most heat presses come with their own countdown but usually, fifteen seconds will be enough to fully cure the garment.
Once done, you will notice a real difference with the design which will have taken on a more glossy hue. If you notice some ink residue on the press, you can wipe it off with a cloth, however, if you have touch dried your garment properly this shouldn't be an issue.
And there you have it! Your garment is now fully dried and cured.
Now you've finished this step, take a look at our next blog post for the next stage: Cleaning your screen of plastisol ink!
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