The Virus research and development laboratory team explains how to get shining results when printing with metallic ink

Metallic inks are a great way to add impact to your prints. Although they’ve mainly been used for the printing of fashion garments, in the last year they’ve become more popular for casual items like T-shirts and sportswear. They’re surprisingly versatile and can be used alone to create metallic prints, or alongside regular inks to add areas of brightness and shine. Hydra Clear for Metallic E is a clear base that has been designed and developed in the Virus labs. It can be mixed with up to eight metallic shades – gold, silver, copper, mercury, cadmium, uranium, brass and titanium – and gives a bright metallic finish, soft handle and a high washing/rubbing durability.

When printing with metallic inks, it’s important to work within different printing parameters and follow different procedures than you would when printing with regular inks. The presence of the metallic powder means that it’s important to carefully follow the mesh count and tension instructions specified. As with all metallic inks, Hydra Clear for Metallic E has a tendency to reflect the heat of electric infrared dryers, so it is recommended to set the dryers at a temperature about 10°C above the usual temperature you would use. If you’d like to try this technique, the following step-by-step explains the process using Hydra Clear for Metallic E, with the addition of gold and silver powder. It’s a great way to offer your clients something extra, with minimal effort and a great return.

Step-by-step: Screen printing with metallic inks

(1) First, stretch both screens at 43.80 mesh/cm, 25 newtons tension. Perform two internal coatings, two outer coatings and one more internal coating. Dry them in a screen drying unit at the highest temperature of 40°C, placing the outer side downward

(2) After exposing the screens, wash out the unexposed emulsion using a pressure water jet. Rinse and dry at a temperature of 60-65°C

(3) Add 20% of silver and 20% of gold metallic powder to clear base and mix each well for two minutes

(4) Proceed with the silver metallic printing

(5) Flash dry for a few seconds

(6) Proceed with the gold metallic printing

(7) Check the result

(8) Cure the garment at 160°C (10°C higher than the usual curing temperature) for about two minutes

(9) The finished design!