Why a Flash Dryer is Necessary for Printing
Screen-printing is a slow process that can take hours or longer to complete. Why does it take so long? Ink can take a long time to dry completely. But with a flash dryer, you can reduce your print time and finish your order in record time. And that's not the only benefit of incorporating one of these devices into your screen-printing procedure. Learn more about the basics of flash drying and curing with a dryer and why these processes are essential.
What is Flash Drying?
Flash drying is a process that uses heat to cure screen printing inks. Flash dryers can be used in two different ways while making a screen print. For multi-color designs, printers sometimes use dryers to set a layer of ink before adding another color. This process is called flashing, and it's used to speed up the printing process and prevent different-colored inks from bleeding together. It's crucial not to flash for too long; if the ink becomes fully cured, the next layer won't bond to it.
You can also use them to cure the ink after you've printed the complete design on the surface. Curing is the last step in the process. It involves hardening a substance (in this case, ink) so it becomes rigid and stable. When screenprinting, curing the product helps prevent the ink from cracking or deteriorating. These dryers are one of the most popular tools for curing, but screen printers also have the choice of using a heat gun, heat press, or conveyor dryer.
To cure the ink fully, you must heat it to a very high temperature. In general, plastisol ink cures between 300 and 330 degrees Fahrenheit. Water-based inks cure between 300 and 320 degrees Fahrenheit. You can not use a flash to cure discharge ink. Check the manufacturer's recommendations for an exact cure temperature before printing.
Benefits of Using a Flash Dryer
Why should you choose a flash for curing over other methods? Here are a few reasons why a flash dryer is essential for high-quality printing.
Dry Faster and More Efficiently
Using heat to cure ink sets it faster and makes the entire screenprinting process more efficient. Once the flash reaches the proper temperature, fully curing your print will take under a minute. With plastisol ink, you'll only need to dry the print for 30 to 40 seconds. The fast dry time can help you speed up production and streamline your processes for maximum efficiency.
Easy to Use
Using this device is simple. Place the dryer about three inches above the surface, and blast the ink with heat until it's cured. The ease of use makes it a very popular option for beginners. And with its compact design, the device is easy to store, too.
Improve Print Quality
Flash dryers cure ink more evenly and consistently than other methods of curing. Even heat distribution is essential for producing high-quality products. Plus, a proper cure will help maintain the integrity of your artwork by keeping it from aging, fading, or smearing over time.
Limit Errors to Save Time, Money, and Materials
With a quick and consistent cure, you'll be less likely to ruin your prints with smudges and smears. Flash drying can produce better quality products and help reduce the costs and effort associated with fixing mistakes. You'll save time and effort by not needing to remake prints. And, you'll waste fewer materials, as well.
How to Use a Flash Dryer
Do you want to learn how to use a flash dryer before adding one to your production process? Follow these instructions for flashing and fully curing.
Leave the product on the platen and place the flash dryer two to three inches above the surface. Leave the dryer in place until the liquid plastisol ink reaches its gel point of between 240 and 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on the type of flash, this process can take from three to 15 seconds.
Avoid flashing for too long; otherwise, the next layer of ink won't adhere to the underbase. Ideally, it shouldn't come off on your fingers if you were to touch it, but it should still feel a bit tacky.
To fully cure the ink, begin by pre-heating the flash to the optimal temperature; this usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. You should warm up the platens, too. Separate the item from the platen and place it on top so the heat can completely penetrate each layer of ink. Swivel the dryer over the platen, two to three inches above the ink. Cure the ink for 30 to 40 seconds or until it reaches to ideal cure temperature. You can test screen-printed fabrics by waiting for the ink to cool down and stretching it a little bit. If the ink cracks, you'll need to flash it a bit longer until it reaches a complete cure.
A range of variables can impact the curing process. When determining the temperature and cure time, you'll need to consider the room temperature, material type, ink, and dryer specs. The kind of platen you use can affect the cure, too. You'll want to start with a warmer platen so you can quickly cure the entire layer of ink. Aluminum platens are the best choice because they hold heat for longer.
Flash drying is an essential part of screen printing. Whether you're flashing a multi-color design or curing liquid plastisol ink, using a flash dryer can make the process quick and easy. These dryers can speed up production and help you create higher-quality prints. A faster, more efficient cure also means less accidental smudging and smearing; this equates to less time, effort, and resources spent fixing errors or re-printing products. We hope this guide has helped you learn about the importance of flash dryers and their role in modern screen printing. If you're interested in learning more about screen-printing or any of our top-quality supplies, visit Holden's Screen Supply Corp today!