There are two styles, Dye and Pigment. Both make films and both need to be matched to a proper film supply (there is that focus on film again). Pigment and Dye are radically different inks so don’t choose the wrong film. Some claim there are films that work “great” for both – wrong! A film works “best” for the ink it was designed for and it works “okay” with the other. Buy the proper film for your inks and “test” them before you buy in bulk.
The industry standard is Dye ink:
Dye ink is available through many suppliers and works with lower cost films, which does not mean lesser quality films. Dye ink requires a thinner emulsion layer than pigment ink and the thicker emulsion layer is where the cost of manufacturing and purchasing film rises. Dye quality will vary. We formulated a dye that has the right properties for dye inkjet film media. A lesser quality dye will not allow you to achieve the higher density needed to hold all the details on the film so it translates to accurate screens and vibrant press prints.
Air dry technology:
Using dye ink means that you are utilizing an “air dry” technology. One of the reasons we like inkjets is that there is no “heat” involved in the process. A laser printer which uses heat can create registration problems. With inkjet technology the films are not shrinking due to intense heat. However that also means the ink is not “fusing” as fast. It takes a little time for the ink to dry to the touch and up to 24 hours to fully “cure”.
Dye ink is aqueous meaning it’s water based with dye and uv blocking agents to make up the density to block UV light in the exposure unit. Giving the film more time to cure before use means more water will evaporate leaving behind only the dye and UV agent. When the water is fully evaporated we call that “cured”. A cured film is not only greater in density, but it’s much more durable, scratch resistant and archival.
Dry ink is like pudding, it may be dry to the touch (on top), but below the surface it’s unstable and easily reactivated by moisture. Press a “dry” film up against a damp emulsion screen (not fully cured) then turning on a hot exposure lamp creates a greenhouse effect. Your film will likely fall apart after it’s first use. Yes, you can use inkjet films just produced if time does not allow for a total cure.
Films measured soon after printing will always have a lower density reading then those who were allowed to fully cure. A few hours is good, over night is best.
Yes, it is possible to run a screen print shop and make your films a day in advance. Yes, it involves making other parts of the prepress process more efficient, but it certainly can be done. By doing so you will always have the best films you can make. Better films make better screens and prints, improving your business quality. Strive to be the best you can be. Do things right as often as possible.
Printers use ink and ink runs out. Don’t just have one set of ink in the printer, have a backup set waiting. Epson and other printers setup their devices to have a zero tolerance when it comes to ink. Meaning if one cartridge is out then the printer stops working. You are going to use it to make money, so don’t be afraid to invest in stock as you do with all other items. Downtime caused because you ran out of ink is costly. There is no good reason for this to happen. Frankly, don’t be “penny wise and pound foolish”.
Color Inks make no sense.
You are a screen printer so you make films. Films use only black ink, so why do you have color ink in your printer? Oh yes, that was Epson’s idea because that is all they sell, but you have different needs.
Color inks that sit idle can, and most likely will, dry up and clog your inkjet. Why spend money on things that not only cost you money, don’t make you money, create downtime and cause clogs?
AccuRIP is the pioneer RIP for ALL BLACK printing. It’s the only RIP that makes sense for your job description.
Frankly, running ALL BLACK inks all the time is part of keeping your inkjet printer healthy and is a proper way to spend your money. Do what you will, but this is correct on so many levels. Stop using just any RIP, which cannot do this for you, and switch to AccuRIP.