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Making the Most Out of White Ink

The Bolt Team knows that when using white ink, it comes with challenges of its own. It can be one of the costliest problems you can come face to face with, and may have you second-guessing if you are using it correctly.

We’ve compiled together 5 points to consider when printing with white ink, to ensure that screen printers from everywhere will get the most out of their white inks.

Point #1: Mesh Decisions

When deciding on which mesh to choose, the main things people focus on are going to be the amount of coverage and the amount of detail in the design. It is often thought that using a mesh count of 110 can result in better coverage, and going any higher means that the ink won’t pass through because of how thick it is. However, if you are using a premium white ink, you should keep in mind that it has gone through hours of testing and trials and so this issue should not be as apparent.

Point #2: Screen Coats

The biggest issue printers run into with white ink is the stencil thickness (especially since sometimes it is non-existent). If you can feel the image on the screen’s substrate side, then you know that you will have a quality ink laydown. Ever heard of EOM? This stands for “Emulsion Over Mesh” and it means that there is a proper amount of emulsion thickness placed on the screen. Having an ideal ink well on your substrate side means that there is going to be an ideal amount of ink that gets laid down.

If you are at the point of drying emulsion, remember to do it with the substrate side down. You also want to be aware that you are using the rounded side of your scoop coater since it will help prevent any chances of scraping on the emulsion in comparison to the sharp edges of the scoop coater.

Point #3: Setting Up Your Press

Let’s say you have everything set up perfectly… except for your press machine. Even if you have the mesh count right, the screens are perfect and the stencils are immaculate, having an incorrect press setup is going to lead to problems with your printing. One of the main problems with press setups is that printers will use too much pressure from their squeegee because they may think that more is better. When in reality it is going to be ideal to print with 25-40p psi in pressure so it will shear off the ink while cleaning the screen. This leaves the ink on the top of the garment rather than having it get pushed through the shirt or any other garment you are printing on.

Other things to keep in mind is the speed of your squeegee and the angle at which you are using it. Try to keep it at a solid 15-20 degrees when shearing the ink.

With today’s inks being tested regularly, they are able to run at higher speeds than they used to. Essentially doing slower print strokes does not always equal out to having a better ink deposit. While choosing your squeegee and your mesh out and even the viscosity of the ink is a personal choice, there are parameters at least to help you create better prints on the products you are selling.

Point #4: Flash Temps and Times

To figure out your flash temperature and time you need to operate in, you must think of the mesh selection that was made and the screen/print setups. Think about the ink-film thickness to get a quick flash time. Having all of this figured out correctly helps to optimize production.

Now what if you have a thicker ink deposit and thus need a longer flash time? The big worry here is scorching garments, which is something we definitely do not want to happen in the screen printing business. Another problem with this is having the ink deposit so thick that it cancels out the flash cure that was performed as soon as it gets washed. Which is something we don’t want happening for your business or the customers.

By printing properly, most white inks will flash at 265 degrees Fahrenheit, in only 1.5-3 seconds total. When you have it figured out, you are able to have faster productions and ultimately can complete more jobs throughout a single day.

Point #5: Curing Process

During the curing process is when you need to reference the ink manufacturer’s recommendations, especially since there is such a large variety of white inks available. This goes even deeper when it comes to the type of ink you are using on different types of shirts. Since these manufacturers have developed inks that work for specific needs, each is going to have different settings for satisfying those needs.

White ink no longer has to be this battle for screen printers. With some research and putting it to practice, technique will be perfected quickly!

Here at BOLT Screen Printing we pride ourselves in creating quality custom apparel that brings your vision to life. We have assembled a team of professionals, who strive to understand your goals and assist you with out of the box advertising and branding techniques. We combine our knowledge of all things apparel with your project goals in order to provide killer gear and a stress-free experience.

With an ambition to create premium quality vintage threads, Bolt was born. From our passion of creating the best clothing for our clothing store Opolis and our customers expressing the desire to see their designs on our high-quality apparel we knew the next step would be to open Bolt. After being in the industry for over 13 years, we've perfected the process of turning amazing ideas into even better results. Contact us today by emailing us at, or giving us a call at 405-493-9557!

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