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Better Garment Printing through Squeegee Consciousness

(April 2009) posted on Thu Apr 23, 2009

Despite its important role in the screen-printing process, the squeegee often doesn

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By Tom Davenport

Cleaning If you do not have a recirculating tank, also known as a parts washer, I strongly suggest investing in one. This device is ideal for cleaning squeegees for several reasons. First, it keeps waste ink from ending up in the trash, where it does not belong. It also can be used with a variety of cleaning solutions. Additionally, parts washers are offered in various sizes, and they can be purchased or leased from a range of suppliers. I recommend leasing one and paying for a supplier service contract. A service contract is beneficial because it can be tailored to meet your needs, it typically puts the machine under warranty, and most importantly, it puts the safe handling and removal of chemicals in the hands of the chemical supplier.

In my shop we use an aqueous solution for squeegee cleaning. It is an eco-friendly, non-flammable, non-hazardous product. I not only feel more comfortable with my employees handling this solution, but I also have found it to be just as effective as harsh solvents. Another benefit is that it is non-abrasive, which helps extend squeegee life.

Operation of a parts washer is simple: squeegees are cleaned using a brush attached to a hose, which lightly sprays chemical through the bristles of the brush (Figure 4). Although operation of the parts washer is simple, it is still critical that the operator be thorough and remove all ink residue.

The results of improper cleaning can be costly. For example, imagine you used a squeegee to print red ink, gave it quick cleaning, and then used it later to print white ink. Residual red ink from the hastily cleaned squeegee will inevitably cause contamination of the white, which you’ll notice as red streaks appearing on your now misprinted shirts. To fix the problem, you’ll have to swap out the squeegee for another or clean it correctly. You’ll also have to dispose of the contaminated ink in press. And you’ll lose valuable production time as you stop the press to deal with the problem.


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