Screen Printed Garments: The Cure Really Does Matter


After screen printing T-shirts, sweatshirts and ball caps, a curing process needs to take place to prevent the ink from cracking, fading, or disappearing altogether. Curing is the chemical process where the ink dries and bonds to the fabric of the garment. A poorly-cured T-shirt will quickly fade when washed several times. There are several curing methods, and depending on your curing needs, you may require one method over another. Here is the truth about all the different curing options out there.

Outdoor Clothesline

As hot as the sun may seem, it can never reach high enough temperatures to cure the ink on your garments, and the design will quickly fade. This method is not recommended.

Commercial Clothes Dryer

The temperature provided by a commercial clothes dryer is not accurate enough to cure ink. Garments left to dry too long inside the dryer might shrink or otherwise get ruined.

Irons And Hair Dryers

If you only want to print one or two garments for yourself and not for retail, irons or hairdryers are an acceptable option. Neither of these drying methods is hot enough to cure the ink, although they will dry a water-based ink. Keep in mind that the ink will gradually fade over time if you use an iron or a hair dryer. A hair dryer is better suited for drying your screens after washing off the emulsion.

Heat Gun

A heat gun is efficient for drying on a very limited use. Guns are more likely to scorch the garment and require a lot of skill and patience to cure the ink correctly. These are better at drying small parts of the screen print rather than a full front print. Better yet, use the heat gun to just perform touch drying or drying between color applications.

Flash Dryer

Only very small production quantities need a flash dryer, which carries similar risks to a heat gun. Flash dryers require skill to avoid burning the cloth. Also, they are better at drying plastisol-based ink rather than water-based ink.  Instead, use a flash dryer to dry between colors.

Hand Curing

Curing garments with a hand held device uses less power than flash dryers and heat guns, and they are easier and safer to use because they heat and cool very quickly. However, hand curing is best used for very low production quantities and is more appropriate for touch drying between prints and between color changes.

Heat Press

Moderate sized printing quantities can benefit from using a heat press for curing. Most of them have a timer so you can manage how long the curing process lasts, which is good for different types of ink, including vinyl transfer. A heat press requires transfer release paper be placed on the ink first before curing.

Tunnel Dryer

A tunnel dryer is capable of curing moderate to very large quantities of screen print garments quickly. This type of dryer cures all kinds of ink. For example, plastisol inks do not air dry and must reach 300 degrees for at least 60 seconds to properly cure. Reflective and glitter ink both need more time.  At 300 degrees, water based ink is only partially cured. The binder and pigment in water based paint completely cure at 330 degrees for at least 2 minutes. Tunnel dryers reach higher temperatures, and a conveyor-type tunnel dryer allows for the longer drying time that some inks require.

Different curing methods allow you to choose which best suits your screen printing needs. Garment quantity, type of ink used, temperature requirements and curing time all dictate which method you ultimately should use. Consider the practices you perform regularly to determine which screen printing supplies you need.


17 May 2017

Learning About Printing Services

Hello, I am Maeve Boyle. The success of my business relies on my ability to spread the word about products and services I provide. I have found that the best way to tell the community about my business is through direct mail flyers. I design all of the flyers on my computer and have them created by a local printing company. The printing company allows me to pick the paper weight and finish used for the completed advertising materials. I like to pick a paper type with a texture and finish that people gravitate towards. I will talk about all of the different types of paper and inks used in the printing process. I hope you will use the information on my site to secure flyer prints for your business. Thanks.