Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Printing With Aquasoft Inks
For The First Time

    Aqusoftt is Tulco's slow-drying ink series that is water-based. They say it's a good alternative for plastisol inks which are is not water-soluble. I have been using Tulco products since day one of my screen-printing experience in 2011 and for 5 years I have gotten used to their Classic, Rubberized, and Athletic inks. But the prevailing weather here has become un-ideal for the opaque inks that I have been using. It gets really warm in the garage that I work in, even on a rainy day and my stencils end up clogged with dried ink and srubbing them off is hard on the fingers and absolutely time consuming.

     But I have Aquasoft inks now. I bought some a couple of weeks ago and from the store I learned there's another added effort if you use this type ink - you can only make your own opaque colors. Yup. The emerald green, golden yellow,  royal blue, and the other colors that are available on the Rubberized and Athletic series are not available in Aquasoft. So you will need to get Aquasol Matte (a flat opaque white base), and mix some Tulco pigments to achieve the colors you need. Good thing I have some pigments here at home. Mixing for your own colors is not that much of a fuss anyway. Actually it's fun hehe. I made khaki and turquoise for my first try on two shirts (for a friend who ordered them 6 months ago haha!)

    When I opened the container of the Aquasol Matt, I noticed that it has a thick consistency and it actually made me a bit nervous. Because with the previous inks that I use, a consistency like that is a sure clogger. When I added the pigments and stirred vigorously, the consistency became a bit workable but is still thick. I'm worried about adding diluted Binder to thin the ink a bit because it might affect its slow-drying properties.

    Surprisingly, when I slid the squeegee the ink went through the screen smoothly. The big design was printed completely without skips or blots. And the best part is that the screen was not clogged. I remember  that I get a clogged screen right after the first coat with previous inks.

    The screen of the dreamcatcher design is actually a fresh screen. (The old one was completely damaged by dried ink.) When I washed the new screen I was relieved to find no clogged areas where I have to scrub like hell. No ink stains either!

    The next day after printing I get to try my new heat-press machine. I think it took 4 minutes for the machine to get to the temperature of 140 degrees C. Then just 40 seconds to cure both shirts. Pretty quick huh? But I need to get used to the heat radiating from the top press while replacing shirts.

    Because my friend will not be able to pick up the shirts yet, I decided wash-test the prints. I was told that if the print is not properly cured, the color of the print will fade or worse, the print will wash off. Well I'm happy to announce that I hung a couple of shirts to dry with quality prints. ^_^

   So, I guess I'm ready to start with the second batch of El Nido shirts.