Images_Digital_Edition_September_2019 40 images SEPTEMBER 2019 Industry expert Tony Palmer shares some top tips on wet-on-wet printing with plastisol ink The miracle cure that the colours you lay down on top remain bright and make the print ‘pop’. When a base layer is applied onto the fabric and gelled, the base white should be touch-dry but not cured. It should resemble a tomato: firm to the touch, but still wet and squishy underneath. Be careful not to over-flash, though: countless problems arise from an over- flashed base layer. Plastisol ink has a gel temperature: it gels when it hits this temperature and then it becomes wet again as the temperature continues to rise, until it hits its second phase – the curing phase. It’s very difficult to tell from touching alone if a base layer has been over-cured or under- cured as both feel wet to the touch. Many print shops are now using multiple flashes on dark and even light shirts. But is the use of these flash curers actually necessary, or are they being used as an expensive cure to a problem that could be addressed early in the path from design to press? The truth is that most problems with a multi-colour job can be solved before they happen – and they don’t require multiple flash curers… ■ Colour order This is important and can help a job to look cleaner and run more easily. Try to use the old technique of smallest area to largest S o, you’ve laid down your pristine white base layer using the high- tension mesh with a superb EOM coating and the fancy new composite blade. Next, you flash and get the underbase just dry enough to start laying down the 11 colours on top. It’s at this point that most of us reach for the coffee pot, put on the lucky shirt and try to figure out the intricacies of a multi-colour job on a dark shirt. Should you even have said yes to this job? Should you have argued with the customer to change it to a two-colour silhouette design? Should you have gone down the transfer route? The design has toned edges but surely the addition of a garment colour bleed would be OK? Maybe this is the perfect job to get the DTG machine finally paying for itself? No, it seems that the whole of the multiverse is working against you because the run size is 3,000, and the shirts are a great vintage purple colour with just enough man-made fibres in them to make them allergic to almost anything other than multi- colour direct screen print. There’s nothing else for it, you’ll have to knuckle down and get it printed. You approach the press wearing your lucky shirt (the one from the batch of 1,000 that you stayed up all night printing and packing, delivered to the event and secured the next order for 10,000 – you are a printer, superstition beats logic every time!). With 12 more screens to place in the press, you frantically work out how many heads you have and where you can put the five flash cure units. Then, disaster strikes! To run this job you must remove four of the flash cure units and use the print heads instead, if you want to keep a cooling station after the base flash. The prospect of running a 12-colour job with only one flash strikes instant fear. Will it smudge? Will it pick off? Will it pinhole? Do you have sufficient silicone spray on hand? Maybe you still have a tub of flow thinner from 1987! That will help, right? Fail to prepare, prepare to fail Flashes, spots, dryers, heaters – these wonderful additions to a printer’s arsenal are valuable assets, but are you always using them correctly? When printing on a manual carousel, flashing every colour takes no extra time, and it’s arguably more difficult not to flash. However, on an automatic machine the addition of a flash can actually cause more problems than it solves. The number one use of flash curers is to dry the base white layer to ensure