screen printing > Ink and Chemicals

keeping clean

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I know this seems crazy but how do you keep the ink buckets clean. I ALWAYS splatter/drop ink on the outside of my ink buckets when scooping ink in or out. I even get the outside dirty when opening the ink the first time. I see picture of other shops/ink rooms and the buckets are spotless. Do you guys have a method to keep ink where it should be or do you just clean up after every job?

Those "hatchets"......either you love them or hate them. I prefer disposable ink cards (also a love or hate). Stainless frosting knifes to scrape the buckets near the end of their life. And you have to care enough to learn some technique, similar to pouring emulsion in scoop coaters without spilling a drop. Lets face it though, there are a lot of "getterdone" shops who pride themselves on being sloppy. I have horrendous pictures from some previous shops where I literally threw away hundreds of gallons of ink and had them start over clean and organized, with formulas printed and sealed on the outside of the buckets. Drastic to be sure, but it can get wildly out of control and unmanageable in large operations.

I don't love or hate the hatchet. I am open to trying something new. My experience before shirts was balloons. The ink is air dry latex. It was a LOT easier to clean. Just let it dry and peal it off. I am at that point now that have to make it better. I am getting slowed down by the mess. When I add ink to a screen I have to wash my hands before I can start printing again. O know if I touch the ink bucket I have ink on my hands! I have never used disposable or stainless but I am trying both next week.

Some press ops are deathly afraid of running out of ink and I have seen some dump over a half a gal of ink in an auto screen. Presses are disgusting  and you simply can't even look at or touch anything without ink jumping on you. (I know of one shop that buys disposable gloves by the pallet). I prefer to add small scoops a little at a time and monitor this (takes practice). Final cleanup is painless, using 3" stainless paint scrapers (beveled on the corners) and almost zero ink residue remains on the screens before they enter the auto reclaim, which, in turn is easier to maintain and the chemicals last longer as they don't have to work so hard.

We use stainless steel and I never every leave a ink knife in buckets of inks, even during production ink lids are back on and the knife lay on top until we get done,  we try to keep our ink buckets as clean as possible, won't say they are spotless.  Also like Tony we don't dump tons of ink in the screen just enough to keep it rolling nice and add more as needed.  I don't like the yellow hatchets even though we have a bunch laying around they just seem kind of messy to use to me 


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