Here are a few quick tips for screen printing water based ink successfully. These are general guidelines for all projects. Mesh counts, printing dark garments, printing poly all have their top 5 lists. Subscribe to the blog and I will help with those on future posts.
First things first use a water resistant emulsion. Only one coat on both sides of mesh. Most water based ink does not need much EOM (emulsion over mesh). The thin stencil will help with ink open time on press.
Have water handy. I use a combination of spray bottles and buckets with a sponge around the press.
Prepare your ink for success. USE ADDITIVES. Matsui has one called quick additive that I add 5-10% to everything. It combines softener, retarder, and fixer. This keeps the ink flowing through the screen, helps it stay wet on screen longer, and also helps the ink cure fully even if you didn’t get the heat right.
When printing a demo, sample, proof, registering, or simply want to take a break clean the ink out of the image area of the screen with water. Leave the ink puddled in the back of the screen. Use about 10 test shirts to get the ink flowing properly for accurate color as ink is generally semi transparent.
When printing for production preheat your pallets to 140 Fahrenheit. Pallets are your flashes. Make sure they don’t go above 160. Keep ink over the image area with a flood at all times and keep moving. If you stop the press refer to step 4.
These tips assumes you are a printer and have most of your processes in place. Using this water based ink technique and steps will change your normal rhythm I know, but it helped me a lot. Water based ink is awesome. Soft handed prints with high detail and use way less chemicals. I use it as often as I can.