Choosing the Right Spot or Flash Dryer for your Screen Printing Shop:
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Infrared (IR) and Quartz Units
Every screen printing shop needs a flash cure dryer (also called a spot dryer) to pair with an automatic or manual screen printing press. It does not matter whether you are a start up screen printing shop or an established contract screen printer, having the proper flash unit is critical to producing the best quality t-shirt, hoodie and other garment prints.
You have two different choices when it comes to flash cure units. You can either get an Infrared (IR) or Quartz spot dryer. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages to weigh when deciding which is best to pair with your manual or automatic screen printing machine. Keep reading to find out whether you should get an IR or Quartz flash unit.
Infrared (IR) Flash Unit Advantages and Disadvantages
IR Flash units are most popular when starting out silk screening. This is because they are the lowest cost option and easily pair with a manual t-shirt press. Often, they are 120 volts and can be plugged into a standard outlet. However, it is always recommended to use a dedicated circuit because they typically draw about 15 amps.
All of Lawson Screen and Digital's quality flash units come standard with wheels/castors so they can be rolled around your shop.
You can get an IR flash unit with or without a temperature control. If you opt for one without a temperature knob, such as the Lawson Econo Flash Unit, you control the heat your shirt gets by raising and lowering the distance of the flash unit from the platen/pallet. It might go without saying, but make sure your unit is not hot before adjusting the height to avoid burning yourself.
The main disadvantage of an IR Spot Dryer is that it is always on. This means it is constantly producing heat and consuming energy, increases your energy bill. Since the flash unit is always on, you must remember to move it away from your platen if you are not printing and when you take a break. Otherwise, you run the risk of burning a platen.
Quartz Flash Unit Advantages and Disadvantages
Quartz flash units tend to be the preferred choice of sophisticated screen printers and the default for all automatic screen printing. Quartz spot dryers are advantageous because they rapidly produce heat and automatically turn on/off. The best Quartz units use an electronic eye to sense when a platen moves into position under them. When this happens, the bulbs instantly heat up, spot drying your t-shirt quickly before the unit automatically shuts off. This helps speed up production, saves energy by only being on when needed, and prevents you from burning a pallet.
The only downside to a Quartz spot dryer is cost. They are more expensive than an IR unit, when tends to cause new screen printers from getting them.
Lawson gives you options for both IR and quartz flash units at different price points. For infrared, our Econo Flash unit is a great option for budget minded screen printers, while the Super Flash adds in the feature of adjustable temperature. Lawson’s QZE Quartz Shuttle and Quartz Express flash units are perfect for high production printing, offer all the perks of quartz flash dryers including faster flashing and lower energy consumption with auto-triggers. Plus the Quartz Express can also be used with almost any press, whether automatic or manual.
All are good options; it all just depends on your needs.