Making the most of your consumables is key to surviving tough times. Davis explains how to get the most mileage out of inks, emulsion, cleaning chemicals, and other supplies by optimizing screen tension.
By Rick Davis
Ink consumption is another area where you minimize cost by maximizing tension. Keeping screen tensions at optimum levels allows you to reduce off-contact distances and squeegee pressures, which in turn allows you to deposit your ink films onto the surface of the fabric—as opposed to pressing the ink into the fabric—and prolong the life of your squeegee. The result here is lower ink consumption, higher opacity prints, and faster production rates. The thinner ink films also require a lower retention time in the dryer to reach a proper cure point, which means you’ll use less energy to dry them.
From a reclaiming standpoint, high-tension screens require less emulsion remover if sprayed on, or shorter soak times if using a dip tank. In either case you save on the chemicals used in reclaiming. High-tension screens also reclaim faster, which leads to saving in labor time. These benefits also apply to degreasing and dehazing chemicals.
Slow production times also represent an opportunity to conduct house cleaning. Consolidate those PMS colors that have been sitting for more than nine months with little hope of seeing any reorders in the near future. Dark grays and off shades of black are the easiest to combine because black is the easiest color to get away with. You can combine yellows, reds, blues, and greens, but keep in mind that mixing too many pigments into one color can create a gray. Finally, take a walk through your facility and identify which processes and procedures you can modify to increase productivity and save the dollars that everyone needs to keep in this tight market.
Maximize Resources with High Screen Tension
• Reduced consumption of emulsion, chemicals, and mesh
• Faster exposure
• Better preservation of details and tonal ranges
• Minimized off-contact and squeegee pressure
• Higher print opacity with lower ink consumption
• Prolonged squeegee life
• Faster production and shorter dwell time in dryer
• Reduction in chemical consumption
• Shorter soak times in dip tanks
• Faster overall reclamation
Rick Davis is the president of Synergy Screen Printing in Orlando, FL. A 27-year veteran of the textile-printing industry, Davis is a member of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology and has a background that spans production management, artwork engineering, application testing, and industry consulting. He is a frequent contributor to trade publications and a speaker at industry trade events.
Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to the magazine.