Misprint Monday: Cracked Ass

Nice distress filter on that ass, right? A tremendous photoshop filter created that nice distressed look, right?  Not! It is supposed to be a nice solid coating of ink and after washing it is not, it is cracked and washed off. That’s what ink looks like when it is not cured. For you non-printers out there, the ink was dry to the touch, but not “cured.” “Not cured” means that the two main parts of the ink did not fuse and therefore will not permanently remain on the shirt.

So why did this ink crack and come off the shirt?

Here are all the possible reasons:

  1. The dryer was just plain set at too low a temperature.
  2. There is some issue with your electric oven where perhaps the wires are starting to burn out and the heat isn’t what is should be.
  3. Something is wrong with your oven, some blockage perhaps and the heat is not even across the whole belt. You need to use a donut probe sometimes (if you don’t own one perhaps your loyal local supplier will help out) and check that there are not hot and cool sides of your oven.
  4. The dryer belt was running too fast (not enough time in the oven.)
  5. It was a very humid day and your usual settings for curing ink won’t work because the shirts are so damp. Evaporating moisture cools the shirt and therefore the ink doesn’t reach the proper temperature
  6. The shirts were in a warehouse or travelled in a truck through very humid conditions, same effect as No. 3
  7. Too much of any number of things were added to the ink so that the balance of ingredients is off, usually something that thins the ink but doesn’t cure on its own. This is usually plasticizer, called “non-curable reducer” which can only be added to a certain percentage and after that adversely will affect the curing of the ink. This seems to most often happen when somebody “thins” the ink and then doesn’t mark the bucket and somebody else comes along and “thins” it again to the point where it now will not cure properly
  8. The settings for your dryer for temperature and belt speed are fine for normal temperatures, but you came in and printed those shirts in the winter when it was 40 degrees in your shop. A shirt that enters the oven at 40 degrees takes longer to cure the ink than one that goes in at 80 degrees.
  9. Rarely but sometimes there can be something on the surface of the shirt like a silicone wash or starch and it keeps the ink from adhering properly. Printers like to use this excuse, but it rarely is the cause.
  10. Even more rarely there is something wrong with the ink from the manufacturer. The main ink suppliers stand by their products and keep samples of each batch to test if necessary. If you have the product number and lot number they will check for you. This is another favorite of printers, but rarely is it the fault of the ink. If you are not using a reputable supplier for ink it really doesn’t happen and if it doesn’t they will make good. If you are not using a reputable supplier for ink, you are a fool since saving pennies for taking this risk is not a good idea.
  11. A different type of garment than you are used to can cause the ink to not cure. If you were running thin 50/50 black shirts through with a cure and then suddenly put thick grey cotton sweatshirts through at the same dryer settings you might very well not get a cure, particularly with a dryer with a short heat chamber.
  12. The thickness of the ink you printed will affect the cure and a thick print is like a cake and you need either a higher temperature or  (better yet) a longer time in the oven to cure the ink all the way through.
  13. Not possible with this ass, but worth noting is that different ink colors might take longer to cure, particularly reflective or glitter or shimmer inks which might reflect the heat.

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