The market for screen printing on metal provides ample opportunities for screen printing businesses. To succeed in that market, screen printers have to understand the technical aspects of screen printing on metal substrates.
Not all metal substrates are created equal, and not all inks will adhere to all metals. Laying down a great print means understanding your metal substrate, knowing which inks will print well on that substrate and meeting the demands that will be placed on the printed product.
The metal substrates sent out for printing typically aren’t raw metal; they feature coatings and treatments that affect how the metal will react with certain inks and how well inks printed on the metal will resist scratching and fading. There are two types of metal coatings:
Successful screen printing on metal substrates begins with understanding your metal substrate. You have to know whether your metal features a thermoplastic or a thermoset coating. You should also ask whether the metal has been treated with any additional chemicals that may interfere with ink adhesion; if they do, your supplier generally can recommend what you can use to clean off any surface chemicals before printing.
Metal substrates call for different inks, and the ink you choose will depend on what type of coating your metal substrate has and the durability and flexibility required in the final product. The types of inks used for printing on metal substrates include:
When choosing which ink to use with metal substrates — air-dried solvent ink, heat-cured solvent ink or UV ink — there is no one right or wrong choice. Your ink choice ultimately will depend on the metal substrate you’ve chosen for the job.
Successfully screen printing on metal substrates depends on knowing what requirements your product will have to meet, so you know which type of metal and which type of ink you should be using for the job. You need to know if it has to be hard and durable, or softer and more flexible, as well as whether it needs to be scratch and solvent resistant. While thermoset-coated metals are more commonly used in screen printing, a job that requires a less durable application might allow you to choose easier-to-print-on thermoplastic coated metals. The type of metal, along with the flexibility and durability requirements, will help you to select the right ink for the job.
In the end, most screen printers who work with metal substrates end up using a range of metal materials and a range of ink to meet their clients’ needs. Succeeding in making metal substrates a part of your screen printing business means understanding the different types metals, and the different types of inks to use on those metals, so you can choose the right materials for a successful screen printing job.