Heat Curing using an Iron
Why Heat Cure?
Screen printing is a popular and effective method of printing designs onto various materials, including fabric and paper. However, for the ink to adhere properly to the surface, it needs to be heat cured. So, to ensure your new printed garment stands the test of time and can wear it over and over again you will need to "Cure" the print.
This process involves applying heat to the printed design to help it dry and cure, making it more durable and long-lasting. The process of curing is heating the ink on the garment until the pigment makes a chemical bond to the fibres of the fabric and the water evaporates away.
There are many different ways and methods for heat curing screen prints, however today we'll be using a household iron.
What you'll need ✨
This process is super easy and doesn't require much, so with that being said, you'll need:
- Your final print.
- Brown paper.
- An Iron.
The importance of air drying ☀️
We've all been there, made a fresh line of garments that we can't wait to share, sell or wear. However, we highly recommend that once you have finished printing, you leave your garment to air dry.
If you put your iron straight on to wet ink it will smudge 🤭
By air drying, this will ensure that the ink has fully dried and will not smudge or smear during the heat curing process. Allow your printed material to air dry for at least 24 hours before proceeding with the heat curing process. Additionally, make sure that the printed material is completely free from any moisture or water before attempting to heat cure it with an iron.
Let it air dry until it is dry to touch, overnight at room temperature should do it.
(you could speed this up a bit with a hair drier, be careful not to scorch your garment)
Let's Heat Cure ♨️
Setting the temperature 🌡
The first thing you need to do is set your iron to the right temperature. The ideal temperature will depend on the type of ink you are using.
For Hunt the Moon Inks, we recommend around 160°C and ironing the print for around 2 minutes. If you can't manually the temperature then set your iron to the cotton setting, which typically ranges from 160-180°C.
If you were to use a lower temperature and iron for less time it would result in the prints washing off.
Find a flat surface 📏
Next, place your printed material on a flat surface, such as an ironing board or table. Make sure the print is facing upwards, and there is no creasing or folding in the design.
Place the brown paper over the print
To prevent the ink from sticking to the iron, cover the printed design with a protective sheet such as the brown paper. Make sure the protective sheet completely covers the design and has no wrinkles or folds. This will protect it but still allow the heat to come through.
Apply heat to the printed design
Once your iron is heated up and your protective sheet is in place, it's time to apply heat to the printed design. Place the iron on the protective sheet and apply firm pressure, be sure to move the iron around to cover the entire printed area, ensuring even heat distribution.
Do this for at least 2- 2.5 minutes. The ink needs to reach 160°C to cure and be fixed. By moving the iron it should prevent the fabric burning. Without a thermometer it is hard to know the ink has reached temperature, so lift the iron and protective sheet and check the design. If the ink is still wet or tacky, replace the protective sheet and apply heat for another 10-15 seconds. Keep repeating this process until the ink is completely dry and cured.
Cool it off ❄️
After the ink is completely cured, let the material cool for a few minutes. Once it's cool, gently peel off the protective sheet and test the design by rubbing it with your hand or washing it with mild detergent and water. If the ink stays in place without peeling or fading, your heat curing process was successful!
Curing your prints is especially important if you are hoping to sell your printed garments. No one wants a disappearing design!
Top Tip: Don't forget to include care instructions with the garments when you sell them!