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Mixing Nylobond With Plastisol Inks: Nylon Printing
Have you ever wondered how to print nylon jackets and sports jerseys? Printing nylon products can be a challenge but with the right knowledge, equipment and supplies, you can print on nylon with relative ease.
The first thing you need to know about printing on nylon products is that standard plastisol inks will not bond properly to them. Plastisol inks need a catalyst additive that will make the ink bond with the nylon material. This will make the print wash and wear well. Without the nylon catalyst additive, the print will not last. It will rub off, peel, crack and scratch easily. Do not attempt to print any nylon product without the additive.
The most popular and well known nylon catalyst additive is made by Union Ink. It is called Nylobond. You can purchase it through most screen print supply companies. It has to be mixed with the plastisol ink, (which must not contain water), at a specific ratio. Mix in standard opacity plastisols at a rate of 1 part of Nylobond to 5 parts plastisol, (by volume). In high opacity plastisols mix at a rate of 1 part Nylobond to 4 parts plastisol.
These are the mixing details from Union Inks product specifications:
Add 10-15% Nylobond to the plastisol by weight. To obtain a 10% addition, the following is recommended:
To 1 qt. white add 6 oz. Nylobond
To 1 qt. color add 4 oz. Nylobond
For more effective bonding on more highly water-proofed garments use 15%:
To 1 qt. white add 9 oz. Nylobond
To 1 qt. color add 6 oz. Nylobond
10 percent mixture: Up to 16 hours
15 percent mixture: Up to 8 hours
Nylobond is sometimes used in lower concentrations for better adhesion on water-proofed nylon and may help fully cure inks on fabrics that will not withstand the normal cure temperatures needed for regular plastisol inks alone.
Curing your printed nylon products can be tricky for many reasons but if cured correctly, prints should be sufficiently dry for handling and light stacking a few moments after they exit the dryer. The Nylobond mixed ink will be sticky right out of the oven and will even take a finger print if touched. Have someone catch your sports jerseys or jackets if they go through a belt dryer. After cooling the print will be soft and still fragile to scratching and rubbing but they will be completely hardened in about 72 hours. Higher ratios of Nylobond will cause the ink to cure faster.
Remember that nylon products will shrink and melt under too much heat in the oven or from a flash cure unit. This is why many printers tend to do 1 color prints on nylon jackets. If multi color prints are done it usually is done with very little registration between the colors. The shrinkage of the nylon material and ink make it difficult to print fine registration multi color jobs. Jacket liners can also add difficulty. That is not to say it can't be done. Just make sure you have the skill to pull off what you promise your customer.
You will want to mix your Nylobond ink on or in plastic. Do not mix this on paper, wood or cardboard. The mix will dry up very quickly sitting on porous materials. Also make sure to clean your screens completely of the Nylobond mixed ink as soon as you are done printing with it. That goes for your spatulas, squeegees, mixing boards and other items that come in contact with this ink mix. It will be easier to clean up right after the job. If you wait, cleaning will require more effort and screens may get clogged or ruined.
- Use a jacket hold down bracket for your pallet
- Pre-shrink the jacket with a flash unit
- Avoid excessive heat, the nylon will melt
- Use very quick flash cures between colors to minimize registration problems
- Sometimes wiping the nylon down with an acetone dampened rag before printing can help