Although we are not exhibiting this year, we will be attending FESPA 2019 in Munich on 15th and 16th May.
If you would like to meet up for a coffee or Beer then please get in touch and we can set the ball in motion.
Fespa is always a good time to meet up with old friends in the Industry as well as meet new faces. To date we already have meetings arranged with friends from Brazil, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Switzerland and the USA as well as with good friends visiting from the UK.
We will also be visiting the stands of some of our partners in the Industry whom we support through our manufacturing and distribution network
So why not join us.
There is no better place in Europe to sample beer and hospitality than Munich.
See you there!
We are pleased to announce that following a rigorous and thorough testing of our range of Sublimation Inks via an independent testing house, our inks passed all the necessary requirements and therefore comply with the European Toy Safety Directive EN71-3:2013.
EN71-3:2013 gives chemical migration limits for nineteen elements including Chromium III, VI and Organotin. This revised version of the standard came into force on 20 July 2013 and is a response to the amended European Toy Safety Directive, (2009/48/EC).
Here at Ink Cafe Colours, where we produce our own DTG Pretreatment, we know the importance of fabric preparation and applying Pretreatment correctly to ensure that the white ink can be showed off at its best.
The purpose of the Pretreatment is to act as a barrier that stops the white ink layer from soaking into the fabric and therefore losing print sharpness, definition and outline.
Poor application of Pretreatment will result in some really poor quality prints.
If you apply too little pretreatment solution the white ink will have a mottled appearance after printing; while applying too much pretreatment will have a serious impact on the wash fastness of your print. The white layer may also peel off or crack and the garment have a stiff handle and feel.
We recommend that prior to commencing you press your garments for about 10 seconds. Firstly, this flattens the garment fibres and second it removes any moisture that may have accrued in the garment during storage. We always apply our pretreatment using a spray gun set with a wide fan. If you choose to follow we recommend you hang the garment against a board and stand the board upright.
Starting top left move the spray gun across the garment continuously move across and down left to right, right to left in an even movement. Once you reach the bottom continue spraying in an even movement in the same manner, back up to where you started. Repeat the process once more to the bottom of the garment.
The pretreated garment needs to be dried before any print can be applied therefore place on a heat press and cover treated area with a silicon sheet or parchment paper. Set the Press on a medium pressure for a maximum of 10 seconds, at 160°C. by medium pressure I mean around 1.5bar We have an area on our website where users can request technical data sheets help them understand the technical aspects of pretreatment application.
We recently ran our pretreatment in some comparison tests against some of our competitor’s pretreatments and there were some interesting differences. Our pretreatment cures at a lower temperature, in less time and when producing prints of equal quality we established that you use 33% less of our pretreatment per garment than you do that of our competitors.
Ink Café Colours in 60 Seconds
Ink Café Colours are a digital ink manufacturer who don’t just work for their customers, but work with their customers to produce the type of digital inks they need at a price they can afford. With a combined 30 years in the textile and sublimation market our team of ink and print specialists have come together for you as customers to provide you with products and services that meet the exacting standards you require from your ink supplier.
Specialising in inks for the garment and textile inks, our refreshing approach to doing business provides our clients with the personal touch that larger, more corporate ink manufacturers can’t.
We adapt to your needs because we listen and understand.
With our “manufacture to order” production process we can guarantee that the customer is receiving inks that are freshly made and haven’t been uplifted from the hidden depths of a storeroom; dusted down and packed off.
Our TeeBrite DTG inks are manufactured to meet the highest quality standards and all our inks undergo a rigorous analysis and testing regime. Our batch control system gives us full visibility and traceability; giving the client the reassurance that the best possible aftercare and support is being provided at all times.
We never sit still and are always taking onboard feedback from our customers. Feedback that we believe will enhance the quality and user experience of TeeBrite and its white label derivatives as first class products.
Some of you will be familiar with TeeBrite as a brand as we have supported a number of machine manufacturer startup’s; particularly during the early years of DTG development and just as hardware and support has improved immensely since the early days of 2004/05. So too have our ink formulations. Our philosophy of continuous improvement has brought us a strong powerful CMYK colour set; while our most recent White Ink, which we refer to as WX, is a metaphorical million miles further forward in terms of quality, opacity and reliability from that of our earliest offerings.
We support our inks with our own range of cleaning & flushing solution and Pre Treatment.
So, if it’s a direct to textile and garment ink manufacturer that your looking for Ink Café Colours are the partners that can and will meet your needs, both now and into the future.
We recently commissioned an independent study to determine how our inks might be impacted by exposure to extreme cold temperatures either as a result of exposure in transit or in a working and storage environment outside those normally specified as optimum operational temperatures for both inks and digital printing machines alike.
Our initial concern came from anecdotal evidence from one of our suppliers who reported that he had witnessed an ink user operating in a room that was at a very low temperature (possibly around 5°C) in mid winter.
We had never considered that someone would be working in such cold temperatures inside a workspace, being used as we are to air conditioned and heated print room environments that stabilised the temperature to meet the specifications laid down by printer manufacturers that recommended operating environments of between 18c and 30c. Our concern was heightened when the distributor explained that the outside temperature where this customer was located was often as low as -12c even in the middle of the day!
Luckily for us we are located not far from the Centre for Process and Innovation (CPI) at Sedgefield in County Durham who specialize in helping SME’s not unlike ourselves and with the facilities at their disposal they were only too pleased to assist. We provided them with a brief and they set about conducting their analysis of how temperature extremes might adversely affect the performance of our inks. As a company we find it important to obtain independent evaluations to support our own analysis and on this occasion we were extremely grateful to be able to call upon CPI for such independent evaluation.
Two critical factors in ink jet printing are droplet formation at the print head nozzle and drop spreading and wetting behaviour on the substrate. The surface tension and viscosity of the ink are therefore important parameters – typical values are respectively 30-40mN/m and a few mPa.s . It was therefore agreed that CPI investigate these properties on a freshly manufactured ink and after storing the ink at elevated temperature for a week. The stored sample would also be investigated for any evidence of gross sedimentation effects. Additionally the freezing point of the ink was to be determined to check this wasn’t a factor in using the ink at low temperatures.
CPI has a range of testing equipment at their disposal and for these tests they utilized the following:
The tests were completed over a period of about 10 days and the report received indicated the following:
The ink investigated was water-based but the presence of the other elements of the ink formulation (colorants, surfactants etc.) was expected to depress the freezing point below that of water. This is indeed observed: a melting point of -12.9°C was determined by DSC on heating at 5°C/min, with significant super-cooling of around 20°C below this observed on cooling. It is therefore unlikely that freezing of the ink would occur in the range of operation temperatures discussed. The freshly manufactured sample had a surface tension nearly half that of water. This is desirable for inkjet inks and likely due to presence of surfactants that are deliberately added to the formulation: a low surface tension is desired to aid wetting of the substrate (although it should be not so low as to cause the ink to drip from the print head). The surface tension decreased by a few mN/m as temperature increased, but no dramatic changes were seen, indicating that no unexpected extra adsorption / desorption of surfactant at the ink surface was taking place.
Viscosity measurements were made at a range of shear rates between 1 s-1 and 1000s-1, which correspond to timescales of 1ms – 1s. These timescales are typically relevant for the impact, spreading and drying of inkjet inks. Viscosity measurements of the ink all showed a low viscosity (of the same magnitude as water) and the curves were relatively flat across this range. As expected, the viscosity decreased with increasing temperature but no significant changes in viscosity behaviour were seen. (A significant change could be, for example, a change in viscosity by an order of magnitude or more – as for example is seen in “shear thinning” behaviour in paints and personal care creams).
The aged sample (stored in closed container in oven at 40°C for 1 week) data for surface tension and viscosity were tested and a comparison with the freshly manufactured ink was presented. There was no significant shift in surface tension values. This implies that there was no change in the surfactant behaviour (e.g. degradation, micelle formation). The aged sample viscosities at 20°C and 5°C were slightly different from the as prepared sample but again, these were not significant differences.
Microscopy on the aged sample (taking a sub sample from the bottom of a storage tube) showed no evidence of sedimentation.
So, while not the end of the matter, with the assistance of CPI we were in a much better position to advise our distributors and customers alike on the likely outcomes that extreme environmental conditions can have on the stability or otherwise of our products.
In an earlier post we talked about the work our development team were undertaking to enable us to introduce fluorescent inks to our existing range of dynamic sublimation inks.
Neon Fluorescent colours are proving to be popular in the sportwear and fashion market as designers and their clients look for more eye catching and vivid colour options for their garments and neon fluorescents make it possible for them to reach out beyond the standard colour range options and provide them with stronger more vibrant and brighter options to their designs.
Well, our development team hasn’t disappointed and we are delighted to now have three excellent tried and tested neon inks to add to our portfolio of sublimation inks. Our yellow, pink and blue neon fluorescents are manufactured in house and to the same exacting standards that we demand for all our inks and we are sure that they will prove popular in the upcoming weeks and months.
As a manufacturing company we understand the importance of having control in all aspects of your manufacturing process; from formulation development, through testing and on to final production.
These controls form an integral part of your company’s quality processes and ensures that as a company you can have the utmost confidence in your products quality and services.
At Ink Café we have extensive experience in product development and our dedicated and perfectly formed team follow a strict quality control programme that ensures that all aspects of development are mapped and recorded for assessment and control purposes.
And that control doesn’t end once development has been completed. At Ink Café we operate a batch manufacturing production process that provides us with complete product traceability; providing our clients assurance that with a quick reference to the product batch number, we can identify all the components used in manufacture. This traceability is essential and underpins both our internal and external control.
Each batch of ink we manufacture is allocated a batch number that reflects its place in the production schedule and that number is recorded on each bottle of ink shipped. A quick referral of that number triggers the company’s own internal reference and assurance system and provides the team with full traceability back through the production process.
By incorporating quality control into your manufacturing process you are ensuring that your product meets the clients requirements by following your established and defined manufacturing criteria.
In our previous news item we talked about contract manufacturing and the advantages that this can bring to a client; offering them the opportunity to share in our continuous improvement program while promoting their own brand of inks. However, contract manufacturing need not simply be limited to an existing product or process that one offers. It can just as easily lead you down the new product development route and help open your eyes to markets that you may have neglected or not considered previously; bringing together new products and new opportunities.
One such new opportunity offered itself to Ink Café when a client mentioned some issues it was having with its existing supply of black ink and asked if it would be possible for us to look at the issue and come up with a solution.
The problem was simple. Their existing UV blocking black ink was not performing effectively enough. Its strength was not meeting the standards required.
Their requirement was for a high opacity UV blocking black ink that would have a Dmax above 5.4, be water based and would produce highly durable printing of film positives and transparencies, that would last longer than their current inks.
To many this might have appeared a tall order; a risk. But to Ink Café this was just another opportunity to support a customer and help them through their issue.
UV blocking black was not something we had in our portfolio although we were well versed in the manufacture of standard digital inkjet inks in the form of our own StayBrite pigmented ink.
Did we succeed? ...... We did indeed.
We presented them with a deep, dark UV Blocking Black ink that met and surpassed their requirement. With a Dmax of 5.6, this specially designed formulation makes it the perfect ink for digitally printing film positive transparencies.
Another new product; another satisfied client.
So; whether your a screen printer looking for a stronger, deeper UV blocking Black for your film positive transparencies or a distributor looking for a product to add to your product range, Ink Café might be just the people to ask!
Our TeeBrite brand has played a big part in our company’s development as an ink manufacturer. When we started out we had no idea what the future held for this new technology; first printing directly onto a white t shirt and then taking the next stage of laying down a white print and then repeating the process with a “top coat” of colour. The combination of pre treatment application, image alignment and wet on wet ink layering seemed so niche back in 2004/05 but who would have guessed that 12 years on, the process would have remained virtually unchanged. We still pre treat our cotton, we still apply white base layers and we still apply a colour layer in much the same way. Yes, pre treatment machines have made the application a simpler and cleaner process and curing and drying times have reduced considerably but other than that, the DTG process hasn’t evolved or been taken over by something more straightforward.
The changes that have come about have been mainly around the ink itself. Colours have become stronger as dispersion manufacturers have captured the essence of the need for better quality dispersions that meet the exacting requirements of the ever evolving piezo printhead technology that DTG machine manufacturers utilise. Inks have become more stable, less and less prone to clogging or developing gassing and micro bubble and settlement issues have become a minor irritant rather than a major issue. As a result, shelf life has been extended and users have become more and more confident in DTG as a serious player in garment decoration.
But the biggest change has come about in the development of White ink. Every manufacturer in the market today has been through a number of iterations of their white ink over the last 12 years and Ink Cafe is no different in that respect as we have worked to produce an ever improving product and our latest step on that road of continuous improvement means that our first TeeBrite White is a metaphorical million miles back from our latest offering; TeeBrite WX. We have worked steadily and steadfastly to try and enhance print runability and opacity without compromising any aspect of what customers require when it comes to printing white as either an underbase or top layer
Another change in our manufacturing progress has been our willingness to work with clients as a Contract manufacturer; offering them the opportunity to share in our continuous improvement program while promoting their own brand of inks. This approach see’s us offer this unique “white label” service to anyone willing to pay; allowing them to concentrate and devote their time into creating their own brand.
With Contract manufacturing we are creating and developing a unique supply chain for branded, private label or our custom-made inks. Ink café as the manufacturer remains responsible for making the product to specification and meeting the delivery time requirements. This offers the customer a fast and effective method of developing and extending their product line with minimal investment and a made-to-order supply program.
These successful partnerships now form an important component in the success of Ink Café as a UK based ink manufacturer and see us perfectly positioned for the growing European market as well as Worldwide.
Does the real Spartacus need to stand up?
DTG: The Future’s Brite.
Direct to Garment Printing, often referred to as DTG Printing, is a process of printing on textiles and garments using specialized or modified inkjet technology. The three key requirements of DTG printing are a printer specially designed for the purpose, specialty inks (inkjet textile inks) that are applied to the textile directly and are absorbed by the fibres and a heat source for fixing and drying the ink.
At Ink Café we specialise in the manufacturer of our own brand DTG inks, ancillary application treatments and cleaning fluids; products that we have been producing under the TeeBrite brand name since 2005.
TeeBrite ink is our specially developed inkset that allows users to print to white, light and dark coloured fabrics using any Epson based print engine. Designed with the T-Shirt market in mind, TeeBrite Ink when used in conjunction with compatible software offers a one stop solution for perfect Direct to garment printing, creating brightly coloured images on white and dark shirts. To print to dark garments a specially formulated pre-treatment is required, however TeeBrite Ink can be used to print untreated white or light coloured shirts directly.
TeeBrite Ink comes in a 7 colour set of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black Light Cyan, Light Magenta and White. Ink Cafe prides itself on integrity of print and as such TeeBrite Ink has outstanding resistance to washing and bleaching, although the T-Shirt itself may not!
Our latest White ink, TeeBrite WX works perfectly with our colour range and is proving to be an excellent addition to the TeeBrite family of inks and our finest white to date!
We also manufacture our own brand Pre Treatment; designed for use on fabrics or garments whenever white ink as either an underbase or individual coat is going to be applied.
TeeBrite Pre Treatment can be applied in a variety of ways. Some users utilise a hand-held spray bottle that will mist the fluid as it is being applied to the garment. This is a cheap and effective method of application but you do need to ensure that the applicator does not apply large drops of fluid on the garment.
Our preferred application method is via a high volume, low pressure (HVLP) spray gun such as those used by vehicle sprayers. With a wide fan on the gun nozzle and starting from the top left corner, spray from left to right across and down the fabric in an even non stop motion until you reach the bottom right hand corner. Reverse the process heading back up the fabric and then repeat once again to the bottom right as before.
An automatic pre treatment machine can also be used to apply TeeBrite Pre Treatment.
No matter what method of application is adopted, the pre treatment that is applied onto the fabric or garment needs to be dried by pressing under a heat press platen of appropriate size for 10 seconds on medium pressure at 160c. We also recommend that before commencing application that the fabric or garment is pressed flat for about 10 seconds. This ensures that the fabric or garment is free from creases.
Cleaning and Flushing
TeeBrite Cleanjet Pro is our very own cleaning and flushing fluid, specially designed to work in conjunction with our TeeBrite branded inks; Ideal for the cleaning and maintenance of your print heads, lines and capping station.
As a maintenance solution, place a small amount of Cleanjet Pro on the capping station of your printer at the end of each day after your end of the day maintenance schedule and replace the print head in its close position. This will maintain the efficiency of the print head and reduce the possibility of ink in the nozzles drying out and blocking the head.
As a cleaning solution, Cleanjet Pro can be used to flush and clean contaminated ink lines; as an aid to dislodge any dried ink residue on a blocked print head and as a general cleaning fluid on and around your printer where waste or splashed ink may have become lodged. Always use lint free cloths or cleaning spatulas with Cleanjet Pro.
So as you can see, ink Café's TeeBrite brand covers the full DTG process; from preparation, through ink application to post production and clean down.