At Icon, we get a lot of questions about solvent inks and solvent ink application and while we don’t sell the inks ourselves we always want to help our customers achieve what ever it is they are trying to do. Many textile screen printers naturally gravitate to printing on substrates other t-shirts as the needs of their business change or their confidence in the process grows. What most printers find out is that the process is for the most part the same but the although the supplies needed to achieve the process is drastically different.
When making the move to printing on non textile substrates one of the first things that will come clear is the fact that most of the items you want to print won’t hold up to the high heat needed to cure the inks that you are used to. In addition, standard plastisol and water based inks that are traditionally used for textile printing will often fail to adhere properly to non textile substrates. After some failed experimentation most printers will pick up the phone and call their supplier to find out just what the heck they have to do to get some ink to stick on their substrate. This is the point at which most printers get their first introduction to solvent based inks.
Think of solvent based inks like finger nail polish or model car paint because in essence that is what they are. Solvent inks are typically very thin in consistency and have a much stronger odor than most textile printers are used to. This odor is caused by the solvents used as the base of the ink, these solvents are what allow the ink to adhere to the substrate. Solvent inks are usually designated by the substrates on which they are intended to be used and will often have a variety of thinning agents available to either speed or slow the drying process. It is important to be sure that you are purchasing the correct ink for substrate on which you will be printing. Failure to select the correct ink type may result in a lack of adhesion and even ruin your substrate.
Picking your ink is only one of the changes that you will need to make when moving to solvent inks. Because solvent inks utilize much more harsh chemical and are much less viscous than plastisol or water based inks you will also want to be sure that your screen mesh and emulsion are right for the job. While most textile screen may never use or even own a 305 mesh screen, this is where you are going to want to start buying screens for solvent inks. In addition you will want to make sure that you are using a solvent resistant emulsion that will not break down in the printing process. Remember also that you will need to have the correct chemicals to help you clean up after the job. Thinners and cleaners are most often available via the same source that you use for your inks. With all of this in mind you should be able to get started printing with solvent inks. For more information or to purchase solvent inks please visit the links listed below: