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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

Can newer, safer, greener cleaning technology really knock out tried and true, older, petroleum- and caustic-based cleaners? Let’s envision this boxing match: Without further delay, ladies and gentlemen, in this corner the current champ, weighing in with an impressive record, holding the titles of Earth Pollutant and Ozone Puncher, is Petroleum Pete. And in this corner the contender, seeking to displace the champ, weighing in at an incredibly fast-growing rate, holding the titles of Renewable Resource and Green Earth, is Enviro-Friendly Ernest. Even though this is a battle you are not likely to see on your TiVo, screen-printing shops across the globe are coming to this fight. They are faced with having to decide which, if any, green cleaning products can be cost effective, work, and, in the end, get the job done with the least amount of fuss possible.

Let’s be honest. Of all the operations screen printers perform to keep their businesses strong and growing, most shops probably give the least thought to their cleaning operations. Cleaning areas are tucked back in a corner and generally look like World War III has begun. But cost effective, good screen cleaning means better printing performance, longer lasting screens, and more money in screen printers’ pockets! Now, on to the match! Ding ding!

Round 1: Ink cleaners and degraders
There are hundreds of ink cleaners on the market to clean numerous types of inks used in screen printing today. They generally fall into three categories: petroleum, green, or a petro-green blend. Petroleum cleaners are usually highly volatile, potentially dangerous, not earth friendly, and made from the by-products of the refining process of crude oil.

Green cleaners generally are not volatile, are designed to be earth friendly, and are made from renewable resources such as soybeans, corn, and oranges. Petro-green products are a blend of petroleum and green products that generally are less volatile and provide manufacturers of petroleum products with a method for making their products less dangerous to use. Being practical, screen printers just want a cleaner that is affordable and works well. But sometimes it’s not easy to select just the right cleaner to achieve this.


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