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The Screen-Cleaning Boxing Ring

(February 2011) posted on Wed Jan 26, 2011

Do green screen cleaners actually work? This article compares them to conventional cleaning products and describes how to use them effectively.

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By Jason Davenport

Most of the time, the reason given for not dehazing is that the caustic dehazing products on the market today are incredibly hazardous and would the screen if not watched like a puppy roaming around on new carpet. Thus, many screen printers choose to dehaze once or twice a year—or not at all. Caustic dehazers work extremely well to take a haze or ghost image out of a screen mesh, making the screen look new and pretty again. But they work primarily by eating away a small bit of the surface of the mesh, thus helping to release the trapped ink between the knuckles of the mesh.

Continually eating away at the mesh eventually will weaken it, causing future print-registration problems. In the most severe cases, if you were to leave the dehazer on too long, you would find a major tear right across the mesh, causing you to remake the screen (Figure 3). In addition to possible damage to the screen, there are environmental and health concerns associated with caustic dehazers. Be sure to follow all instructions very carefully when using a caustic dehazer, and use proper disposal methods to decrease the impact on the environment from your cleaning and disposal.

Green dehazers work differently (Figure 4) and, therefore, must be used differently to effectively clean away the same haze image that a caustic haze remover eats away. If you were to pick up a green dehazer today and use it exactly like its caustic counterpart, you would find yourself wondering whether you should return the product. Used properly, a green dehazer will remove a ghost/haze image just as well as a caustic dehazer. The difference is green dehazers are formulated to work on the ink without harming the mesh or the individual who is cleaning the ghost image.

To keep from being frustrated, follow some basic principles that apply to most green dehazers. First, remove your haze images every time you reclaim your screens. There are lots of variables in what can occur, but in most cases when haze images are left in the screen with the intent to clean them out maybe three or four reclaimings later, they become very difficult, if not impossible, to remove. Secondly, the drier the screen, the more effectively the dehazer will work. Water that is left on the screen can dilute the dehazer, making it less effective. Lastly, green dehazers take a little longer. Be patient, and let the product you are using go to work. In some cases you may be looking at a minute to two minutes longer than a caustic dehazer.

Conclusion or concussion
Although the fight still goes on, the champ is weakening and the contender is getting stronger. Clearly, petroleum, petro-green, and green products all have their advantages and disadvantages. It is up to the shop owner to evaluate these and choose the best products that are cost effective, work well, and are safer to use. Choosing the wrong product can waste your money and leave you and your staff feeling frustrated, tired, and simply unhappy in doing your jobs.

Environmentally friendly, green products have come on strong. Today might not be their title shot, but they are on the fight card to stay and have the potential to claim the Cleaning Championship with a knockout.

Jason Davenport is the marketing manager for Bloomington, IL-based Franmar Chemical, Inc.


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