Pallet adhesives will ensure a clean and quality screen print by keeping your garment in a fixed position. With many adhesives to choose from, discovering which one works for you takes some trial-and-error but is a worthwhile venture — especially when printing designs with multiple colors. Today we talk to Emmy Handen from Bravo Screen Printing who shares with us some valuable tips on using different pallet adhesives and how to deal with the sticky challenges that might come your way.
Different types of pallet adhesives
There are three most commonly used adhesives. Two of them are spray adhesives, of which one produces a fine mist and the other a thicker spray that resembles a spiderweb. The third kind is a liquid bulk adhesive that you brush onto the pallet. “Our main go-to adhesive in the screen printing department is the liquid kind,” Emmy explains when asked about her preference. “All of them will last about three, four and sometimes five rounds before you need to reapply. The spray tends to overspray so the main reason we use the liquid adhesive is cleanliness.”
What types for which garments
It’s wise to choose different adhesives when printing on different types of garments. The liquid adhesive works best for shirts and lighter fabrics. Emmy suggests: “Sweatshirts and fleece present a problem because their fuzz comes off and sticks to the adhesive. In those cases, it’s a lot faster to use the spiderweb spray.” Keeping the finer mist adhesive at hand is useful for techniques like embroidery. Emmy elaborates: “We use the finer mist spray for bonding applique to the garment because the spiderweb spray is just too messy.”
Experiment as a beginner
Newcomers might be hesitant to start experimenting with different pallet adhesives as there is quite a learning curve. Emmy agrees: “Looking back, we probably should have tried the liquid adhesive sooner. It really is incredible how much cleaner our floors are now that we use the liquid adhesive.”
Dealing with overspray
Overspray can be a problem as it goes everywhere and settles on the floor around the pallet. Regularly cleaning the air intake on your machines will protect them from overspray. Emmy comments: “It does get everywhere! Sometimes we’ll use a piece of mesh to clear out the HVAC system. And every six months we’ll take a day and clean off the machines to not let the build-up get too bad.”
Each adhesive comes with its own set of challenges. Even Emmy’s favorite liquid adhesive has its downsides. “When you paint the liquid adhesive on the pallet and you have a little spot that is not quite dry, it will stick to the inside of the shirt and is really tough to get out.” Having found a way to overcome this, she adds: “We now flash each pallet so it dries while we’re working on the next pallet.”
Removing old pallet adhesive
To keep your pallets clean, Emmy highly recommends using pallet mask. “Every week or two, depending on what and how much we’ve been printing, we just peel it off and put a new sheet on to remove all the old glue,” Emmy shares. When using pallet mask, you do need to be extra careful with sweatshirts: “When there’s a lot of fiber and fuzz stuck to your pallet, you can actually pick up patterns in the ink.” To deal with this, Emmy shares a valuable tip: “We time our job. We start off with printing finer fabrics first, then regular t-shirts and once we’ve done a bunch of sweatshirts, we replace the pallet mask.”
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