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The Value of Standards in Printing Halftone Blends

(June 2009) posted on Fri Jun 12, 2009

Garment designs that feature blends tend to attract more attention than plain decorations. Trimingham explains how to develop standards for applying blends in your printing operation.


By Tom Trimingham

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A better way is to schedule press checks on a bi-monthly basis—or monthly, if you specialize in high-volume printing. The check should include testing all arms for level, consistent off-contact, and even stroke and pressure to the flood and print motions. Small inconsistencies should be adjusted, if possible, and large ones need immediate attention. There is simply no way to print consistent halftone blends on a press that has uneven printing surfaces or other misaligned elements. In addition, this is a great time to grease fittings and replace any worn parts that may cause an issue at a really busy time later on.

 

Testing the related printing equipment

Painters use brushes to create their shapes and carve out details. Screen printers have their squeegees as tools to create a perfect print. Just as a painter would never attempt to create a great painting with a worn out, bent-up brush, a screen printer needs a squeegee that is sharp (for most printing), flat, level, and the right flexibility for the type of ink that is being used and the image type being printed.

Busy shops need to check squeegees on a weekly basis. The blades get dinged up and dull, depending on how they are handled and cleaned. Serious printers carefully clean their squeegees and place them upright to dry, which helps save the edges. The habit of tossing a valuable tool into a solvent sink to bang around with other items is a sure route to a pile of dull urethane that won’t create a decent print.

Clues that squeegees are getting worn will show on the print side of the screen after the squeegee has passed. Look for lines of ink that may indicate a groove in the squeegee and areas on the sides or front/back of the screen that look like the pressure changed and ink wasn’t cleared off. This can indicate an uneven blade or an inflexible blade that is skipping across. Dull blades are a little harder to diagnose from the print but are easy to see with a close visual inspection.


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