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Maximizing Efficiency in Your Inkroom

(January 2008) posted on Tue Jan 29, 2008

One effective way to boost production, improve efficiency, and reduce inventory costs in your shop is to utilize ink-management equipment. This article explores a variety of options available for ink handling, mixing, and dispensing, as well as the benefits these products offer.


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By Lori Leaman

When you hear the word inkroom, do you cringe and suddenly have visions of ink-splattered cans crammed onto shelves from floor to ceiling and colorful globs dripping down the shelves and onto the floor? Rarely do screen printers pay as much attention to their ink areas as they do the prepress, production, or finishing departments in their companies. But a clean, organized, and efficiently operated inkroom is just as critical to production consistency and high-quality printing.

Current technology can help you automate your inkroom to match the pace of your prepress and production areas and promote a highly efficient workflow throughout your operation. This article explores essential tools you’ll need for ink storage, dispensing, measuring, and mixing. For in-depth coverage of ink-management software, refer to the article, “Bring Order to Your Inkroom with Ink-Management Software,” in the Oct. 2004 issue of Screen Printing magazine.

Before we dive into the various types of ink-management tools and equipment available to you, it’s important to note that the type of ink you use is a key factor in determining the type of equipment you’ll need to purchase. Whether you use plastisol, water-based, UV-curable, solvent-based, or specialized inks—in ready for use (RFU) form or as pigment and base mixing system—the varying properties of the inks will influence which equipment is best suited to your applications.



 

Storing the ink

Let’s begin with the basics. Your inkroom should be stocked with plenty of buckets, spatulas, scoops, stir sticks, and plastic or metal cups. You can find these tools at a local hardware store or through a supplier of screen-printing products. Stainless-steel spatulas and scoops are recommended, as wooden tools can leave splinters in the ink, causing image defects and wreaking havoc when the job goes to press. Cups can be purchased at a grocery store, but you’ll need to make sure the cups do not have a wax coating, as the wax may contaminate the ink during stirring.


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