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Eco-Friendly Product Information
These days, many people are trying to go "green," especially when it comes to screen printing. Unfortunately, many of the products used in textile screen printing are not eco-friendly, but here are some products that are, as well as hints and tips to help you make a greener screen print shop.
Waterbased Inks
Contrary to popular belief, waterbased inks are great for printing on t-shirts. Although curing temperatures will be longer due to the nature of the ink, you can still acheive high quality and lasting prints using waterbased ink like the Spectrachem waterbased inks. Solid, opaque colors mean you can even print on dark t-shirts too. This is great news, as waterbased inks require little more than soap and water for cleanup after you've completed a job. This lessens the amount of chemicals used overall, and allows you to save money by not having to purchase ink washes and harsh solvents to clean screens. It also eliminates the need for plastisol inks, which use petroleum products in their manufacture. While the special effects range of waterbased inks is limited, there is no reason you couldn't switch to waterbased for basic everyday print jobs that use standard colors. (Note: waterbased inks work best with 100% cotton, will NOT work with 100% polyester fabrics.)
Ink Wash
Many people think that the stronger the ink wash, the better it will work. Due to the new pthalate free formulas of plastisol inks, this is not always the case. New pthalate free formulations do not work as well with mineral spirits, the former chemical of choice for most screen printers trying to clean their screens. It is the best practice to use re-circulating ink cleaning systems so that no ink wash ever makes its way into the groundwater. Re-circulating ink systems are expensive, but the long term savings and environmental benefits far outweigh the costs associated. Less ink wash will be needed to clean screens as you will be able to re-use the ink wash over and over.

Low Cure Additive (Plastisols Only)
Low Cure Additive is a plastisol additive to be mixed into standard plastisol inks. This will lower the cure temperature of the ink from the normal 320-330F down to about 275-295F. This is a great option for printing on hard to cure garments, but it also allows for faster flashing and can increase print speeds as a result. Another major benefit is it allows you to either lower the overall temperature of your conveyor dryer or speed up the dryer, as the garments will require less heat to cure than before. This increase in production speed allows you to run your equipment for less time saving electricity, or lowering the temperature which would also result in less overall energy consumption. This is a great product for people with inconsistent heating in their dryers or older equipment that doesn't get as hot as it used to. Always test prior to production to ensure proper heat settings have been acheived for the substrates.
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