One of the frustrating things about screen cleaning is the struggle to fully remove ink stains from the screen. I have some specific thoughts in this regard:
How we clean the ink effects how easy (or difficult) the stain removal can be. Harsh solvents such as screen opener, lacquer thinner, mineral spirits, parts washer solvent and products with heavy citrus derivatives create more difficult stains. How do we clean the ink without creating a difficult stain? Wipe the ink out with a mild and safe solvent such as PlastiSolv 842, EasiSolv 110 or C99 (for low VOC applications). To remove ink in the washout booth use EasiSolv 701 or EasiSolv C35 (again for low VOC). Safe solvents such as these greatly reduce the difficulty in stain removal.
After the ink and emulsion are removed, we face the problem of a slight image remaining in the screen. In an ideal scenario apply a mild solvent. EasiSolv 701 or EasiSolv C35 are non-caustic, non-toxic, drain safe ink removers and in most cases these products work well in the capacity of stain remover. Not going to a bucket of caustic goop is a fair better solution for your people, your screen mesh and the drain that it all ends up in. An additional benefit of using a quality ink remover for your stains is the fact that a simple flood rinse will degrease the mesh. No specific degreaser is needed.
There are other issues that cause stains to be more difficult. Extreme squeegee pressure and zero off contact can drive ink further into the mesh knuckles. Water base, UV and solvent based inks can make a more difficult stain than plastisol. Tape residue mixed with ink can create a difficult combination to clean. Run length also contributes. A 20,000 piece run is surely more difficult than a run of 48. Some of this we can control and some we can't.
The lesson here is to control those aspects that you can in order to make the job easier in the end and always use the safest products that get the job done. There is no doubt a highly caustic stain remover will in fact remove the stain. But, a safe alternative might just as well and be mild enough to wash your hands with. Doesn't that sound like the better option? The heaviest hammer isn't always the right tool for the job.
Here's to successful printing!
Written By: Steve Nelson | Easiway Systems | Regional Sales Manager Western States
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