Most screen printers prefer using plastisol ink as it is much easier to work with compared to other alternatives. For instance, plastisol ink can be left in the screen overnight (or even over the weekend), has an extremely long shelf life. Screen printing ink can even be brought back from the dead (refer to How to Handle Plastisol Ink That is Too Thick).
This flexibility and forgiving nature of plastisol ink make it the go-to choice. As any experienced screen printer will tell you, colors print differently than white ink. Much of this difference is due to the variations in opaqueness and pigment that occur with white and other plastisol ink colors. Here are some how to tips and tricks for getting the most out of your white ink.
Printing white ink on a dark t-shirt or other garment is a popular and trendy choice. Just make sure to follow these 4 easy steps to ensure your screen print looks great on that black t-shirt.
1. Determine the Best Mesh Count
The default mesh count for most screen printers is 110. How often have you heard or thought, “just throw it on a 110.” This might be a good idea if you want to lay down a large deposit of white ink as an underbase. It can also make sense if you are using a thicker white ink that has not be modified with Thinner DT. You may want to consider running your white through a higher mesh count and doing a print-flash-print if you are looking to print finer detail. When you do this, try just doing a single stroke print, flashing, and then either a single or double stroke. For the first squeegee pull, think of it as an underbase for your white ink.
2.What is Your Emulsion Thickness
Many screen printers, especially in their early days, do not pay proper attention to emulsion thickness. Do so at your own peril as the thickness of your emulsion has a direct affect on the amount of ink you print onto your t-shirt. Typically, a screen printer will do a 2 + 1 emulsion coating. This is a good, standard technique for your average screen printing frame. However, when trying to achieve a good looking white print, it can be a good idea to try using a thicker stencil. Creating a thicker stencil on your screen frame creates a deeper well, which allows for more to go down on your garment, bag, t-shirt.These thick emulsion stencils can be created with a 2 + 2 coating technique.
3.On-Press Printing Technique
A lot of screen printers use a lot of force, especially when printing manually. While you do want to clear the screen, using too much pressure drives the plastisol ink into the garment. For a bright and crisp white ink print, try to get the ink to lay on top of (not in) the t-shirt. To achieve this: hold your squeegee a little less than 45 degrees and use a pulling motion. While there is much debate over whether to pull or push a squeegee, pulling does not drive the ink into the garment as much and helps put down more ink.
4. Cure Properly
Proper curing is vital to a successful screen printing company. Ensuring your plastisol ink reaches 320 degrees to cure on the t-shirt keeps customers happy and coming back for re-orders. It is important to remember that certain materials -- like dry-fit, wicking, polyester and nylon -- may be affected by the heat in a dryer. When printing on heat sensitive materials, use a low cure ink, like PolySport, or a low cure silk screen ink additive. Ensuring a proper cure gives your white plastisol ink strong wash-fastness.