(Image courtesy Workhorse Products)

Troubleshooting the Causes of Dryer Failure

Mary Yaeger is a webmaster for Texsource Screen Printing Supply. Along with maintaining their website and social media pages, she writes for the Texsource blog. She can be reached at mary@texsourceonline.com

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No matter whose print shop you walk into, at least one person there can tell you a story about dryer failure. Failure is part of the bargain when dealing with screen-printing equipment.  Below are some common issues concerning dryer failure and the information to troubleshoot your next issue.

Poor wash fastness, dye migration, poor ink adhesion, and ghosting are some of the issues you may run into. Typically when these issues occur, the first thing to get blamed is the ink. While that is the case for some, it is not the case for everyone. A slight adjustment to your dryer may just be the cure.

Common things that may occur:

  1. You have printed several jobs from one bucket of plastisol ink, and now one of them has washed out.
    • Typically this means nothing is wrong with the ink. If it printed several jobs before one washed out, then another factor caused it to fail. Humidity, the belt speed of the dryer, garment type, ink type, or ink deposit can all be factors that cause cure problems. Setting your dryer to ensure that the temperature window is above the ink cure recommendation is your best chance for success.
  2. Your dryer settings have been the same for years, and you are experiencing your first cure issue.
    • While you may have left the dryer on the same settings, many factors can cause it to dip in temperature. This can include malfunctioning parts like a burned out element or clogged filters.
    • Is there anyone new working in your shop? A friend, family member, or new employee? Sometimes someone may speed up the belt to avoid the garment getting too hot and burning their hands. This, in turn, means the plastisol ink isn’t curing like it should because it hasn’t had enough time to in the dryer.
  3. Your temperature readings are accurate, but something is still wrong.
    • Taking readings of your belt or a shirt surface does not mean the ink will reach the recommended temperature to cure. The dryer’s temperature panel only reports the ambient air temperature. A temperature strip on the surface of a garment reports garment temperature. A temperature gun pointed at the surface of the ink reports the surface temperature.
    • The interior ink must reach 320 degrees F to properly cure and fuse the ink to the garment. Place a heat strip under the printed image to get a more accurate reading and adjust from there.