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Working with Fluorescent Inks

At 21 years old, Lon Winters was the production manager for Ocean Pacific and started his 30+ year career reclaiming screens. His companies have won 50+ garment decorating awards and honors, and he's served 15+ years as an honorary Golden Image Judge, published hundreds of articles and columns, led various industry seminars and workshops, and consulted on projects large and small. He's the president and founder of Colorado-based Graphic Elephants, an international consulting firm and apparel decoration studio specializing in screen printing technical advances, plant design, layout, troubleshooting, productivity, quality analysis and complete apparel decorating solutions. He was inducted into the Academy of Screen Printing Technology in 2013 and is recognized for his contribution to the graphic printing industry.
www.graphicelephants.com.

When our customers are looking to add impact, we can incorporate a fluorescent ink into their design.  The bright vibrant color of these inks is like adding sunshine to any image. Flo inks can make garments really pop.

These inks are based on pigments that have the ability to absorb ultraviolet energy and virtually immediately re-emit this energy within the visible spectrum. The effect of this is to cause the final print to almost glow and appear very bright. The pigments in fluorescent inks work by absorbing that ultraviolet energy (invisible to the human eye) and transmitting it as longer waves in that visible spectrum.

This is another modification to our process, so lets always keep in mind that all rules still apply.  We are still only as strong as the weakest link within that process.  

For best visual results, fluorescent inks should be printed on a white or light background. If the garment is dark, a white printer or base plate should be used. This acts as a reflector base and enhances the fluorescence. A really good foundation is key here. The level of fluorescence is proportional to the thickness of the pigment layer.  Thicker ink film will hold the fluorescent color better on that white underlay.  

Choose a coarser mesh with more stencil thickness or EOM percentage that should yield better final color.  Fluorescent pigments are semi-transparent and have lower color strength compared to conventional pigments.

For better results, we can apply a thicker layer of ink by using a softer squeegee, a less vertical squeegee angle, or even a slightly rounded squeegee edge when applicable. We can add a very small amount of white ink, or we might add as much as 2 percent puff to increase opacity slightly. Note that modifying the ink will compromise the clean, transparent nature of the fluorescence. Also, try to flash after fluorescent colors when possible, or print last in the sequence so the flo ink is not lifted or split on subsequent screens.