Product and Printing FAQs
Q: How do you cure water-based inks?
A: Cure for 90 seconds at 320 F for best results 2-3 minutes at 320 F
Q: What is the difference between each of your whites?
Rapid Cure Underbase White Plastisol Ink - Formulated as a base not great as a standalone white
Rapid Cure Polyester White - Formulated for printing on Polyester or Polyester blended shirts because the cure temperature is lower
Rapid Cure White Plastisol Ink - Formulated as bright standalone ink
Ecotex ® PVC Free White Plastisol Ink – Plastisol ink free of PVC and Phthalates
Ecotex ® Mixing White Water-based Ink – White Ink that can be discharged and should be mixed with another ink color, not to be used as a standalone ink.
Ecotex ® Snow White Water-based Ink – Standalone white ink, this ink cannot be discharged.
Ecotex ® Discharge White Water-based Ink – Discharge ink that must be discharged with discharge activator.
Q: How do I access and use the color mixing system?
- Select your desired color from this free online pantone book
- Enter desired color into our free color mixing software, found here. Make sure to enter in how much weight you require and the correct ink system (water-based or plastisol)
- Select Customize Color
Q: Do you have a guide for using your water-based discharge ink?
A: We do have a guide that can help you out with all your water-based needs. Here it is https://screenprintdirect.com/blogs/news/water-based-ink-101
Q: How do I know if my ink (plastisol or water based) is properly cured?
A: There are a few ways to test if your ink is properly cured. The best way to test if your ink is cured is the wash test. If it washes away that means it is under cured. Another way to ensure ink is cured is to use a laser temperature gun. Using this tool, you can make sure the ink reaches the required temperature to cure. Another method is the stretch test. If the print cracks and does not retract when the fabric is released, the ink is probably under-cured.
Q: Do I need to under base? For plastisol and water-based inks
A: An under base is highly recommended with any colored ink printing on a dark garment. If you are printing on a light-colored garment you can print without an under base although we still highly recommended one. If you are using a water-based ink that can be discharged, discharge the ink to eliminate using an underbase.
Q: Can I use the discharge inks without discharge activator?
A: Yes, you can use almost every color without discharge activator. These inks can be used as regular water-based inks straight from the bottle or with the activator. Our Discharge White is an exception to this, it is a discharge only ink. Snow White and Jet Black ink cannot be discharged.
Q: How do I prevent ink from clogging up my screen?
A: Mix your ink. Whenever you open a bottle of new or old ink it needs to be stirred. The contents will separate. The oil can separate from the main pigment. Mix and stir your ink before each use. Always close your jar when not in use. Another tip is to wet the screen. Continuously mist the screen with water when printing with water-based inks this will prevent the ink from drying out. Always keep the screen “flooded.” This keeps the ink moving and it will also keep all the ink together, making it dry slower.
Q: What is the difference between water-based ink and plastisol?
A: There are a lot of differences between the two. But we are going to keep it simple. Water-based ink is a less viscous ink, when printed it will create a softer hand print. Water-based ink is a little less user friendly because of how quickly it dries out. Plastisol ink on the other hand is a very user-friendly ink. You can leave the ink on your press overnight return and it will still be good. Plastisol ink will print thicker.
Q: What is the best way to get ink off your hands?
A: Ideally waterless hand cleaners work the best. We have one specifically formulated that will remove adhesives, ink and much more. You can access it here
Q: Why is my white thicker than other inks?
A: White is a thicker ink because it carries more pigment than other inks. Generally whites will be the thickest color. You can use Rapid Cure Curable Reducer if you can’t get the ink to a creamier state through mixing. Make sure to follow the recommend amount of reducer to the ink, if too much is added it will affect opacity.
Q: What is the best way to clean up used super tack from the platen?
A: There are a couple ways.
- Use regular rubbing alcohol to remove the adhesive.
- Our press wash will strip the adhesive right off.
Q: What is the difference between Plastisol Press Wash and Plastisol Screen Wash?
A: Plastisol Press Wash is made for the press; it is great for changing colors on the press because it doesnt leave behind oily residue. Plastisol Screen Wash is made for the sink but can also be used on the press. For directions on how to use please clicks product links above.
Q: Can I remove SR liquid tape with water?
A: Yes, you can remove SR liquid tape with water alone, we recommend using a pressurized water source to remove.
Q: My emulsion is not coming off with emulsion remover, what did I do wrong?
A: You may have left on the emulsion remover too long. If you leave the chemical on the screen longer than a minute, it may lock the screen and cause the emulsion to stick permanently. Only leave emulsion on for 15-30 seconds before rinsing. Also, you may not have adequate water pressure. You should use a pressurized hose to remove emulsion.
If emulsion is locked onto screen there maybe hope, you can put our Ecotex® Hyper Haze on the screen and let it sit for 5-10 minutes and then pressure wash it off. Make sure to hit the screen slow and steady, hitting those stubborn areas.
Q: What is the difference between Ecotex® Hyper Haze and Ecotex® Liquid Haze?
Ecotex® Hyper Haze is a paste while Ecotex® Liquid Haze is a liquid. The product and strength are the same and can be used interchangeably. Paste or liquid is printers’ preference.
Q: Do I need to clean the plastisol ink before using the emulsion remover?
A: Yes you do. We suggest carding the excess ink and putting it back into the ink container. Any leftover ink should be cleaned with Ecotex® Plastisol Screen Wash. Once all the ink has been removed you can reclaim your screen.
Q: What is the difference between SR and WR Liquid Tape?
A: SR stands for solvent resistant which means that it will stand up to harsh solvents but break down against water for easy removal. WR stands for water resistant meaning that this will work great when printing with water-based inks. However, it will be more difficult to remove so you need to use reclaiming chemicals to clean it off our screen.
Q: What mesh count should I use?
A: Low detail - Low Mesh (110/160)
White ink or under base printing - Low Mesh (110/160/200)
Thick ink (low bleed or opaque) - Low Mesh (110/160)
Glitter ink - low mesh (40)
Highly textured surface like canvas - Low Mesh (110/160)
Higher detail on dark garment - Medium Mesh (160/200)
Layers on top of under base - Medium Mesh (160/200/230)
Thin inks - Medium Mesh (200/230)
High detail - High Mesh (230/280/305)
Non porous surface like paper - High Mesh (230/280/305*)
Fine details close together - High Mesh (230/280/305*)
Process printing - Highest Mesh (305)
Q: How do I take care of my squeegee?
A: Squeegees are super easy to maintain. Once you’re done using a squeegee, wipe the excess ink off the blade. Dont leave your squeegee resting on it's blade when not in use.
Q: What durometer should I get?
A: Durometer depends on the type of prints you’re doing. The lower the durometer, ex. 60-durometer, the more ink your squeegee will put through the screen. For the average printer we recommend using a 70-durometer squeegee that will get most jobs done. A higher durometer, ex. 80-durometer, the less ink will be put through the screen.
Q: What is the shelf life of a 2-part emulsion?
A: Once the diazo is mixed into the emulsion you have a two-week shelf life. We suggest that you write the date on the bottle to keep track of the container. If you can store the emulsion in your fridge after opening that is the ideal location to prolong shelf life. BUT you need to make sure it does NOT freeze otherwise it is ruined. If the emulsion has not been mixed with diazo it is good on the shelf for 12+ months.
Q: We print with plastisol; do we need hardener for the Emulsion?
A: You do not need a hardener for your emulsion when printing low runs. If you are doing high print runs with 200-300 t shirts, then emulsion hardener would be necessary.
Q: How do I know if my image is exposed properly?
A: The best way to indicate if your image is exposed properly is by using a step wedge exposure calculator. This will give you the exact exposure time you need with the emulsion & light source you’re using. We have one available for sale here
Q: How do I remove emulsion?
A: The best way to remove emulsion is to use our Ecotex® Emulsion Remover. First make sure all ink is removed. Take your screen and place it somewhere you have water flow, spray a generous amount of emulsion remover to both sides of the screen and wait 30 seconds. (Do not let the emulsion remover sit on the screen for too long. Otherwise the image will permanently be burned in the screen.) Spray the screen down with water pressure washer and the emulsion will strip off. Some screens may need scrubbing. When removing water resistant emulsion, it is going to be more difficult to reclaim your screen and will require more work.
Q: How long can you keep a coated screen?
A: After coating a screen, you should store it in a temperature and humidity friendly environment. If emulsion hasnt broken down on the screen and the screen has good tension there is no time limit. Emulsion (once exposed) and mesh don't expire.
Q: Can you overexpose emulsion?
A: Yes, you can, if you overexposed your screen. Some indications of an overexposed screen are
- Not being able to wash out your image after exposing.
- Quality of image is not as good.
- Difficulty reclaiming screen after use.
*To dial in that perfect exposure time, we suggest purchasing an exposure calculator.
Q: How do I store my emulsion?
A: The best place to store your emulsion is in the refrigerator, this ensures a long shelf life and the best results in use. Although this is not possible for everyone, ideally you want to store emulsion between 41 F-86 F. Be sure to prevent the container from freezing or overheating.
If you are using emulsion frequently we suggest keeping at room temperature, if you keep in the fridge you will need to wait for emulsion to reach room temperature before using.
Q: My emulsion is peeling off when I go to wash my image, what could it be?
A: The first thing I would do is adjust your exposure time. This is usually a sign that your exposure time is too low. Next would be degreasing if the screen was not cleaned before coating it with emulsion. It will not have a clean surface to adhere to. Another reason you are not getting a proper burn may be the mesh count you’re using, the lower the mesh count the larger the holes, so you will need a thicker coat of emulsion. Your exposure unit could also be the reason you are not getting a good burn. Every time you use your unit the light gets weaker and weaker. Lights get weaker as quickly as 8 months. Replacing your bulb regularly will help.
Q: When I coat my screen the emulsion is not coating nicely on the screen?
A: This could be an indication that your screen is dirty. You need to degrease it and clean it from all the contaminants. If the screen is not clean the emulsion will not have a good surface to stick to. Also if you emulsion is going bad it will becomes difficult to get a good coat on a screen, it may be time to toss out the emulsion.
Q: I’m having hard time getting the details to come out in my screens. What should I do?
A: The first thing I would adjust is your exposure time. I would increase it. Second thing to check is your film positive. Hold up your positive to the light, if you can see through it that’s the issue. This should be completely black to prevent the emulsion underneath from exposing. Another issue is your halftone dots may not be the proper size. You want to take your mesh size and divide it by 5. If you are printing on a 220-mesh count screen it should be a 44-line print halftone.
Q: Is it better to push or pull a squeegee?
A: This debate has been going on since the earth was created. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter which one you choose. The main thing is that you stick to only doing one. If you switch from pulling and pushing you will get fabric stretch.
If you switch from pushing and pulling during a print run you can also experience blurry prints because the ink is building up on the bottom of the stencil.
Q: How long will it take to receive my order?
A: Orders placed before noon ship out same day. Orders placed after noon will ship out next day. Orders placed Friday after Noon PST, Saturday and Sunday will be shipped out Monday morning.
Q: Is my order going out today?
A: If you order before 12 your order will be shipped same day.
Q: Do you guys ship outside of the U.S.?
A: Yes, we do. Shipping is calculated at checkout for international orders.
Q: How much does shipping cost if my order is under $75?
A: Continental USA- $9.95
Q: Can I ship my order to someone else?
A: Yes, orders can be shipped to a different address than the billing address. During checkout you will get two options to enter in the address.
Q: I think my package was lost or stolen what do I do?
A: We are not responsible for lost or stolen packages. The carrier will generally determine if your order can be left in a safe secure place at your delivery address. If you believe your package may have been lost or stolen please contact our customer service team. We highly suggest purchasing route protection on your package, this will guarantee a swift new order is placed in the event of a lost or stolen package.
Q: Where are your products made?
A: All inks, chemicals, emulsion, and equipment (with the exception of the UV LED Light) are made here in the USA.
Q: What are your hours?
A: M-Fri 8:00-4:30 PST. Please keep in we are real humans! We do not answer email on the weekend, we like our families a lot.
Q: What do you guys do for fun?
A: Go outside, print, listen to music, work on cars, read about history and have some beers.
Q: How long do I have to return my package?
A: 60 days
Q: How do I return my product?
A: Visit our returns center
Q: Do you guys offer exchanges?
A: No, we do not offer exchanges, we can return product for a refund if you are not happy.
Q: When will I receive my credit?
A: Credits usually take 7-10 business after we receive your items
Q: What is your return policy?
A: Please see our Shipping and Returns page for details on our policy
Q: Can I cancel or make changes to my order after placing it?
A: Yes, if you email customer service asap. We strive to ship out orders same day if your order has already shipped, we won’t be able to change or cancel the order 😊
Q: Why was my order cancelled?
A: Unable to verify billing information
Q: I received my product broken what can I do?
A: Please contact our customer service team and we can help come to a solution.
Q: How do I track my order?
A: When an order is shipped, we’ll update your account to show the tracking number(s) and send you an email with the same information. Using the tracking number(s) provided, you can follow the path of your order from our warehouse to your destination.
Q: What happens if my item is back ordered?
A: Items that aren’t available to ship when an order is placed is on backorder. It will ship later. We will provide you with an approximate ship date. Backorder dates are approximate, and we’ll email you if the date changes.
Q: I received the wrong product
A: If you noticed that you received the wrong product, please contact customer service within 72 hours of receiving the product and one of our representatives will make it right.
Q: Can I combine/use multiple discount codes on a single order?
A: Coupon codes cannot be combined unless stated so on specific offers.
Q: Why doesn’t my coupon code work?
A: Promo codes are case sensitive. Enter the promo code exactly as shown without any spaces and the correct capitalization. If the problem continues feel free to message us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: Can I use a coupon code after it expires?
A: You cannot use a code once the deal is expired.