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How do I make my prints smooth like the shirts I see in retail?

You have a few options to smooth out prints.

One way is to make a smoothing screen. A smoothing screen mattes down the fibers of the shirt. Smoothing the print helps boost the vibrancy of the ink. To make a smoothing screen, all you need to do is grab either a 200 or 230 mesh screen, coat the screen with emulsion, expose it without any imagery on it, and place it on the press as a blank screen. You're going to need a lubricant like Curable Reducer. When using the smoothing screen, you'll want to use enough pressure to flatten the fibers, but not too much where you're jamming it in. Watch this video to learn how to use a smoothing screen.

Do you have a heat press in your shop? A heat press can make a print buttery smooth if you do it right, or it can make it too smooth (making it look more like a heat transfer). Many printers are under the impression that the ink needs to hit cure temp in order to smooth it out. That’s not true. To smooth out a print, all you have to do is get the ink warm enough to be pliable. Say you want to smooth out an ink that cures at 320°. Set the heat press to 270° with light or medium pressure and press for five seconds. The print will be smooth while still maintaining the screen-print look. Now, these exact settings will not apply to every heat press and shop. Press time can range 3-7 seconds. The heat may need to be adjusted. In the end, your goal is to apply the right amount of pressure and heat to press down the fibers. If the pressure or heat is too high, the heat press will push the ink into the fibers, thinning out the ink deposit. The thinner, flatter print will look more like a heat transfer. Learn more about the process in this blog.

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