It’s true. Screen printers hate cleaning screens. If it’s not the scrubbing that they hate it is the time that they waste reclaiming screens. Cleaning screens is simply one chore that screen printers wish would go away.
There is an alternative to the time wasted at the washout booth. Adding a dip tank can save you time and energy. This small addition to an equipment list is the answer to all of a screen printers prayers.
What is a Screen Printing Dip Tank?
A dip tank resembles a garbage can. It holds a chemical solution that removes emulsion and ink from a screen. The tank typically contains a spigot that allows drainage from the tank as well. Dip tanks come in different sizes and will work with both manual and automatic screens. It is possible to hold many screens at once in a large dip tank. The tanks are made with polypropylene and will not leak if properly maintained.
How is a Dip Tank Used
Using a dip tank is easy. Simply fill the tank with a One-Step solution. Place screens inside of the dip tank for approximately 5 minutes. This will allow the solution to interact with the emulsion and ink. Then remove the screen from the dip tank and wash out the screen in a washout booth. The screen should be easier to clean which will save time and energy.
Using a Dip Tank Makes Sense
Normally when a screen printer is trying to reclaim a screen they will spray it with a stencil-removing solution and then scrub the stencil . This is not good for a number of reasons. First, the solution can easily wash off the screen when sprayed. In a dip tank the solution can be used on multiple screens. It is entirely possible to get 200 - 400 screens out of a one-step solution in a dip tank. While the other way sends the solution (along with your money) down the drain.
Secondly, if the frame is allowed to sit with a normal stencil remover on it then it is possible to damage the screen. The image can become locked into the screen and ruin it.
Can a Dip Tank Damage Screen Printing Frames
Most aluminum frames are created in such a way that water does not enter into them. It does happen, however. A roller frame can get water into it. It’s easy to know when this happens because the water can be heard inside of the frame. Even using the spray and scrub method will cause water to enter frames. A dip tank remains the better solution.
How to Dispose of Chemicals in a Dip Tank
When it comes to local regulations about chemical disposal it does not matter whether using a dip tank or not. If the chemicals need to be disposed of properly the dip tank can be poured into a barrel and hauled away. This is a more eco-friendly way to handle the waste than sending it down the drain.
Typically the chemicals that are in a one-step solution can be poured down the drain. In most parts of the country one step dip tank solutions are considered drain safe.
The Final Word on Dip Tanks
The reality of the dip tanks is that they save time and money plain and simple. They are environmentally friendly and a great addition to a screen printing shop. While there may still be some spraying, overall spray time will be greatly diminished. Dip tank reclaim screens and reclaim time.