Screen Printing Ink Tips and Tricks
(click one of the following for more information)
Ink Build-up Screen “Clogging” Transfers Color Matching
Scorching Nylon Jacket Printing Ink Color Changes Additives
Squeegee Pressure Flash Curing Screen Breakdown Puff Printing
The Pallet Curing/Drying Ink Storage Ink Blistering
Special Effects Off - Contact Opacity/Bleed Resistance Adhesion
Viscosity Screen Mesh Soft-Hand Effect Factory Environment

1. Ink Build-up:

  • Wipe Multi - Tech’s Thinner sparingly on the underside of the screen.
  • Print with properly tensioned screens. High - tension stretch with as fine a mesh as possible (monofilament).
  • Reduce off-contact and squeegee pressure.
  • Use sharp, hard squeegee (70- Durometer) with reduced angle.
  • Reduce ink viscosity with Multi - Tech’s Thinner DT and/or MSB-100 Clear/ Soft - Hand Extender.
  • Add Multi-Tech thickener paste, 1% - 3%.
  • Adjust squeegee speed.
  • Avoid overlapping color on color. Butt-register your artwork when possible.

2. Flash Curing:

  • Multi-Tech inks flash faster than the competition. Gel at temperatures between 160° F and 180° F. Pretest to determine flash parameters.
  • Do not over-flash. Only gel! Ink will become “tacky” when flashed too hot and/or too long.
  • Remember, platens absorb heat and can “back- flash” over an extended production run. Monitor heat/flash temperatures periodically for consistency.
  • Various colors require various flash techniques. Match flash unit height, temperature set-ting and time. Flash no longer or hotter than necessary. Only gel!
  • Flash additives are not necessary with Multi - Tech ink; however, a flash additive is available for specialty applications.

3. Opacity/Bleed Resistance:

  • Use Multi - Tech Multi - Choice Opaque (MCO) Series for highest opacity and bleed resistance.
  • On bad “bleeders,” use Multi-Tech’s MC-107 Flash Clear for underbasing.
  • Do not over- cure the ink and garment. Adjust dryer temperature not to exceed 330° F.
  • If garment dyes are not fully heat-set, send unprinted garment through a “hot” (400° F) dryer at slow speed (as long as possible without scorching).
  • Use a coarse mesh (61-86) and deposit more ink on the garment.
  • Use “thicker” emulsion (or CDF4/7) deposit on the screen itself.
  • Flash-cure when necessary to control ink “pick - up” and over- printing.
  • When possible, print color sequence dark to light.

4. Soft-Hand Effect:

  • Add Multi - Tech’s MSB-100 Clear/Soft - Hand Extender to any MC ink in any proportion desired to maximize soft - hand. Reduce ink with appropriate modifier.
  • Use Multi - Tech’s Multi - Bright (MSB) Series straight from the container. It is designed specifically for soft - hand application and it contains no water!
  • Use finer mesh (196 -305) monofilament fabrics to reduce ink coverage.
  • Increase squeegee speed; reduce squeegee angle.

5. Scorching:

  • Match dryer time and temperature to ink and garment.
  • Set and monitor dryer temperature, not to exceed 330° F at belt level.
  • Reduce ink deposit, if possible, to accelerate cure time.
  • Do not over-modify the ink! Too much Thinner PL (use only 1% - 5% by weight) or Thinner DT could cause longer cure times. Avoid using other brands of reducers; they are often over-used and increase dry times. Unbalanced ink formulas cause unpredictable cure parameters.
  • If your dryer is equipped with jet - air, turn it on and recheck temperature.
  • Raise heating element height inside the dryer.
  • Reduce temperature and/or time the garment is in the heat tunnel.
  • For extreme cases, when printing specialty substrates, use Multi - Tech’s Multi - Fast (MF) ink. It fully cures between 270° F and 290° F. Available in selected colors (drum quantities).
  • Dryer is too hot. Reduce heat and recheck cure temperature.
  • Substrate is in the heat chamber too long. Reduce dwell and recheck cure temperature.
  • Some garments are treated with starches or “sizing” that turns light brown when subjected to heat. Consult fabric supplier.
  • Fluctuating voltage to dryer or “voltage spikes.” Ensure that dryer is fed with the proper size wire from the fuse box.
  • Check dryer controls, heat sensor, contacts, air-flow, etc.

6. Curing/Drying:

  • Cure the ink at 320° F for approximately 90 seconds (time will vary based on ink deposit, substrate, etc.)
  • Do not cure too hot! This can cause “blistering” and/or sublimation.
  • Periodically check substrate for cure (solvent test, stretch test, Thermo-Tels, wash test).
  • Chart dryer settings, ink use, substrate performance, mesh use, etc., for consistency and history purposes.
  • Understand that a change in dryer belt speed (time) will result in a change in curing temperature. Pretest temperature after adjusting belt speed.

7. Squeegee Pressure:

  • Less pressure is better! Only use what you actually need.
  • Too much pressure can cause ink build - up, dot gain/ smearing, excessive penetration (less opacity), reduced ink mileage.

8. Off - Contact:

  • Use off - contact to compensate for poor screens and to help clear the mesh of ink. Also assists in “sharpening” the print.
  • The tighter the screen fabric, the less off - contact required! Use as little off - contact as possible.

9. Color Matching:

  • Use Multi - Tech’s exclusive Multi - Match Ink System. Use nine toner colors plus a tinting white and black. Over 1000 standard formulas available. Multi-Match inks are finished/ complete single - pigment inks for absolutely “clean” mixing. Multi - Tech is now licensed to simulate Pantone* Matching System Colors. Ask us about this opportunity.
  • Multi - Tech’s standard MC and MSB colors can also be intermixed; because of their “clean” use of pigments, shading and color matching are relatively easy.
  • Base pigments and clears are also available for those who really want to “build” their own ink.

*Pantone Inc.’s check-standard trademark for color reproduction and color reproduction materials.

10. Screen Mesh:

  • Mono- filament polyester is recommended.
  • Match screen mesh to particular application. Coarser meshes (61-110) for heavy deposits; finer meshes (125-196) for overlays, nylon jackets, general application; and extra - fine mesh (230-305) for process - printing, soft - hand and special effects.

11. The Pallet / Platen:

  • Use a hard platen for nylon mesh, jacket printing, and general - purpose printing.
  • Use a soft pallet for heavy ink deposit, rough substrate surfaces, puff and extending flashing application.

12. Additives:

  • Always stir ink prior to using an additive. This will break up “false body.”
  • Do not overuse! Consult us if you have questions. Don’t guess!
  • Be aware. Some additives can affect dry/cure times and temperature.
  • Only modify ink being used for a particular job, not the entire batch. This will help avoid over modification.

13. Special Effects:

  • Phosphorescent glow - in- the -dark inks: available as finished ink, MC -102, or as powdered pigment for specialty applications with base.
  • Glitter: silver and gold are standard -specialty colors on request. Print with 38 -61 mesh.
  • Puff Concentrate. Add 25% - 40% by weight to Multi - Choice or Multi - Choice Opaque and make your own puff ink.

14. Transfers:

  • Use MC or MCO series. Great for general or “hot-split” use.
  • General transfers: use 86 -158 mesh. Print on Transfer- Rite - 75 or Transfer - Rite Parchment. Hot- split transfers: use 38 - 86 mesh (butt - register, no overlays), print on Soft-Trans - Paper. Multi - Tech has a hot - split additive for special use, if necessary.
  • Transfers dry much faster than direct - print garments. Dry time ranges from 20 to 45 seconds. Only gel the transfer. Do not fully cure.
  • Gel at lower temperatures, usually between 220° F and 240° F, depending on ink deposit.
  • Use Transdust to promote transfer adhesion when necessary.
  • Pre-shrink paper by running it through the dryer prior to printing.

15. Puff Printing:

  • Use Multi-Puff or Multi-Puff Concentrates (25% - 40% by weight).
  • Use coarse-mesh fabric (38-86) for high puff and finer meshes (110 -125) for lower and detail puff.
  • Use a “thick” stencil/ emulsion screen. Capillary films are best.
  • “Stack” the print (print - flash-print) for extra high effect.
  • Do not cure too hot or too long, as puff can collapse under too much heat.
  • When printing large solids, use half-tone dots/mezzotints to avoid “puckering.”
  • Always print puff as the last color.
  • Use a soft pallet to deposit more ink and achieve a higher puff. 16. Odor:
  • Usually garment- dye- related. Exhaust your dryer properly.
  • Multi - Tech Opaques (MCO’s) have less odor than other brands.

16. Ink Color Changes:

  • Inter- color dynamics (pigment interaction) on overlays. Multi - Tech inks have fewer and cleaner pigments.
  • Curing too hot (375° F - 400° F) can cause scorching and color change.

17. Ink Blistering:

  • Reduce flash - cure temperature.
  • Reduce dryer temperature.
  • Watch those additives! Inappropriate use of ink additives can promote blistering.

18. Screen “Clogging”:

  • Use enough pressure to force the ink through the screen and “clean” the mesh of any residue.
  • Use a sharp squeegee.
  • Adjust squeegee speed.
  • Check mesh for emulsion residue.
  • Over-use of Thinner DT or use of other non-authorized thinners (paint thinners, lacquer thinners, etc.) that can cause ink resin “swelling.”
  • Adjust off - contact distance.
  • Over-heated (hot) pallets from flashing can cause “clogging” in subsequent screen.
  • Wash up screen at night (end of production).

19. Screen Breakdown:

  • Check screen exposure. Under-exposure can result in premature breakdown.
  • Properly clean, degrease and abrade screens prior to emulsion/ capillary application.
  • Avoid excessive squeegee pressure.
  • Do not use a squeegee longer than the pallet or too close to frame edge.
  • Water in inks. Be careful. Some ink manufacturers use water in their soft-hand inks and don’t tell you! Multi - Tech contains no water in any of its plastisols!
  • Baggy/loose screens (low tension) can result in premature breakdown.

20. Viscosity:

  • “Low- Shear” viscosity. Ink undisturbed in the bucket will be thicker than under “high-shear” squeegee pressure. High-shear viscosity is the important value.
  • Thin, if necessary, with Multi - Tech’s Thinner DT (1% - 3% by weight). Thins and detackifies; does not affect opacity when used correctly.
  • Increase flow and penetration with Multi - Tech’s Thinner PL (1% - 5% by weight) for slight increase in “body.”
  • Thicken with Multi - Tech’s Thickener Powder (1% - 2% by weight) for a more dramatic thickening effect. Use a drill mixer to stir in!

21. Adhesion:

  • Use a hard (70 - Durometer), sharp squeegee and a hard pallet when adhesion is a problem, especially for nylon mesh printing.
  • If the ink is “flaking,” it is probably under- cured or is incorrect for the particular fabric.
  • Use Cellosolve acetate and wipe the imprint area if the use of “waterproofing” materials is suspected on the substrate.
  • Use an additional catalyst if necessary. Waterproof fabrics, 100% synthetic fabrics, dense, tightly woven canvas or poplin may require a catalyst for proper adhesion.
  • For athletic printing, use MC-1030 Athletic Additive for increased adhesion, abrasion resistance and elongation.

22. Nylon Jacket Printing:

  • Use a hard, sharp squeegee on a hard pallet.
  • Use 125-196 mesh for general purpose, 230 -305 for detail and process printing.
  • If using a two - part nylon system, ensure proper use of catalyst.
  • Use jet - air and dry between 305° F and 320° F for recommended time.
  • Pre - flash consistently to control nylon shrinkage immediately prior to printing.
  • Post-cure occurs for an additional 48 hours after printing.
  • Must flash between every color for multi - color printing. Avoid extended flash times that can cause shrinkage and registration problems.

23. Ink Storage:

  • Store in cool (65° F - 72° F), dry environment. Inks “stiffen” up when too cold and “age-up” when too hot.
  • Do not store in direct sunlight.
  • It is advisable to always store ink with its lid on.
  • Stir ink prior to use.

24. Factory Environment:

  • Be aware! Be conscious of basic surroundings, temperatures, etc.
  • When encountering problems, look at everything, not just the symptoms. Ask yourself, “What could be the real cause?”
  • Items often overlooked:
    1. Temperature
    2. Ventilation
    3. Drafts/fans
    4. Lint
    5. Electric wiring (usually too small)
    6. Separate electrical circuits for items that draw significant electricity
    7. Extension cords (too small or too long)
    8. Low or varying voltage
    9. Dryer settings
    10. Lighting
    11. Cleanliness/dirt Catalog your positive results, and negative ones as well, for future reference.