6 Heat Curing Methods When Screen Printing with Water-based Inks

by Wendy Croxford

in Permaset Blog

9 Nov 2020  | 0 Comments

Throughout the process of fabric printing using water-based screen printing inks, heat curing the print is one method to ensure the print is stable and can remain on the garment. Heat curing is subject to variability due to local conditions in the workspace; including the moisture content of the fabric, the ambient temperature and the relative humidity.

There are several practices involved when applying heat to fabrics to cure them.  We recommend test printing before and at the beginning of each print run as heat setting varies from printer to printer. When heat curing water-based screen-printing inks such as PERMASET AQUA®, PERMASET SUPERCOVER® and PERMATONE®, the following methods are used:

For screen printers who are just starting out, make sure that your prints are completely air-dry before heat curing, and testing should be done before embarking on a large print run. For this type of printing, you can employ heat press and flash dry methods.

1. Heat Press

Heat presses are a favoured option for start-up printers as they are compact to buy and quick to operate. They are recommended for small scale production as it takes time to cure each garment.

2. Flash Dry/Cure Units

Prints must be completely air dry first. Flash units are cheap, compact and quick however they can give variable results. The flash dry method is intended to dry ink to produce opaque colours or dry off colours to prevent smudging between print layers when printing multi-colour prints.

For home-studio printers, we recommend using these three methods: hand iron, oven bake and tumble drying to heat set the print.

3. Hand Iron Curing

Firstly ensure your prints are completely dry. When ironing Metallics, fabrics must be ironed from the inside or reverse side as the pigment in metallics limit the amount of heat going into the fabric. This is especially necessary when curing PERMASET SUPERCOVER® prints.

4. Bake Method

You can bake a print in the oven using a low heat temperature of 90°C or 194°F. Make sure to fold the fabric after air drying and wrap it in aluminium foil before placing inside a domestic oven.

5. Tumble Dry

You can heat cure a print by putting it through a tumble dryer.  This method requires 30-minutes. You should always test this method prior to curing all your prints this way.

6. Tunnel Dryer

For commercial and trade printers, employing the drying tunnel method is the best method. The tunnel dryer is also called a belt dryer, this method is the most common for professional screen printers. For PERMASET® inks, the recommended curing is 160°C or 320°F with a standard time of 3 minutes going through the tunnel.  Some print shops have success with shorter dwell times, again test this method and find out what works best for you.

Please Take Note
There are recommended temperature and time instructions for each product on the back of the PERMASET® packs to ensure you can properly set heat fabrics and garments. Learn more about screen printing with PERMASET® here, or  contact PERMASET®  for further advice and tips on screen printing using water-based inks.

For further information about heat curing PERMASET inks check out our Heat Curing Product Information Sheet

When curing water-based inks in a Drying Tunnel or Belt Dryer, we recommend curing 3 minutes at 160°C or 320°F

PERMASET® INKS DO NOT CONTAIN OZONE DEPLETING CHEMICALS SUCH AS CFCS OR HCFCS. THEY ARE ALSO FORMULATED FREE OF AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS. PERMASET® IS FREE OF VOLATILE ORGANIC SOLVENT AND DOES NOT CONTAIN PVC RESIN OR PHTHALATE PLASTICISER

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