Puff inks require a thicker deposit than standard garment printing inks. The mesh counts used for puff printing can vary depending on the ink manufacturer’s recommendations. Mesh selection is also dependent on the desired loft and effect that you wish to achieve. In general meshes for puff printing fall in the 60-80 threads per inch range. Since a majority of the recommended mesh counts for puff applications fall in this range, using round edged squeegees can be beneficial.
When you’re printing puff inks, you’re striving for a particular thickness in the cured ink film. This cured ink film is dependent on the wet ink film you lay down, which is influenced by the mesh count and stencil thickness as well as the squeegee edge profile. All these variables work together to produce the desired result. If the printing edge of the squeegee is too sharp, it will over-shear the ink film and deposit an insufficient amount of ink to achieve the desired loft after curing.
This situation is especially noticeable whenever you attempt to print highly detailed puff ink images through higher mesh counts with thicker stencils. Puff printing benefits from a rounded squeegee profile. You want to have a sufficiently rounded edge on the squeegee’s printing face to allow the blade to simultaneously contact two horizontal threads of mesh during any point of the print stroke.
This allows the squeegee to evenly pass the ink film through the mesh and transfer the correct ink film thickness to the surface of the fabric. By using the correct squeegee pressure, you’ll achieve a print with good definition and thickness that will expand properly during the curing process.