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How to Optimize Your Flash Curing

(August/September 2017) posted on Tue Sep 12, 2017

Learn ways to increase your production while reducing cost, heat, and wasted energy.

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By Mark A. Coudray

FIGURE 1 Look familiar? Flashing too long, at too high a temperature, can spell disaster with the heat-sensitive fabrics in high demand today. Telltale smoke during the flashing process (left) produces scorch marks (right) that mean a rejected shirt, in addition to lost production time and wasted energy. (Photographs by Jerome Vieh, with thanks to JW Contract Screen, Covington, Kentucky, for allowing us to shoot in their facility.)

And remember: Heat is the enemy. The hotter the printroom, the more difficult controlling the surface temperature of the garment will be. Cold rooms present different challenges, with wide temperature swings and rapid cooldown of the print surface. Often, you’ll see wide variations in image quality and color consistency when printing resumes after a press delay. If the job involves critical color matching, this can be a disaster.

With a better understanding of how flash curing works, you can apply it more efficiently and effectively in your plant. It may surprise you to hear that it’s possible to achieve flash times of half a second or less without risking the problems associated with heat buildup. With a correct flash setup, you can control surface temperature, dwell time, and the curing needs of different garment and ink colors, balancing heat throughout the process while minimizing the time needed to gel the ink. You can flash at the fastest speed of the press with little, if any, residual heat passed onto subsequent screens.

You can also save a lot of cash. In many shops, energy usage can be 10 times more than what is actually needed.

The Integrated Heat System
Flash curing systems first appeared around 1978. The two most common heating elements in the early units were cal-rods and blackbody panels, both of which produce radiant heat. These first-generation elements are inexpensive to manufacture and use, but not particularly responsive or accurate.


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