As a screen printer, you know that maintaining the right temperatures throughout the printing process is essential for achieving high-quality, consistent prints. And that’s where an infrared temperature gun comes in – it’s a handy tool that allows you to quickly and accurately measure temperatures without even touching the surface. But what exactly is an infrared temperature gun, and how do you use it effectively in your screen printing setup? Let’s check together.

What is an Infrared Temperature Gun?

An infrared temperature gun, also called a non-contact thermometer, is a portable device that measures the surface temperature of an object using infrared technology. It detects the infrared energy emitted by the object and converts it into a temperature reading. The gun is equipped with a laser pointer to help you aim precisely at the spot you want to measure.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

One common mistake many screen printers make is using the infrared temperature gun to check the curing temperature of their oven. This is absolutely wrong, as the infrared gun only measures the surface temperature and not the internal temperature of the ink. For accurately measuring the curing temperature, you should use a donut probe, which is specifically designed for this purpose. The donut probe measures the actual temperature the ink experiences during the curing process, ensuring that your prints are properly cured and long-lasting.

infrared temperature gun wrongly used at a screen printing dryer

Infrared Temperature Gun wrongly used at a Screen Printer Dryer

Why Use an Infrared Temperature Gun in Screen Printing?

In screen printing, heat is crucial – from the ink to the platens to the transfer press, or to the lycra cloth. And an infrared temperature gun allows you to monitor and control these temperatures with ease. Here are some key areas where it comes in handy:

  1. Checking printing material that is heat sensitive: To measure the pressing temperature or curing temperature on the garment, as they are very heat sensitive, like lycra or other synthetic cloth.
  2. Platen Temperature: Measure the platen temperature to maintain consistency and prevent overheating, which can cause issues like ink drying in screen, or clogging mesh.
  3. Flash Curing: Use the gun to check the temperature of your flash cure unit and optimize the ink drying process between colors.
  4. Transfer Press Temp: Monitor the temperature of your transfer press, to be sure it has the proper temperature.

How to Use an Infrared Temperature Gun

Using an infrared temperature gun is straightforward. Simply point the laser at the spot you want to measure and pull the trigger. The temperature reading will appear on the display.
Keep in mind the distance-to-spot ratio (D:S) of your gun – With a 12:1 distance-to-spot ratio, an infrared thermometer measures a 2.5 cm diameter area when held 30 cm away from the object and a 10 cm diameter area when held 120 cm away.

Choosing the Right Infrared Temperature Gun

When selecting an infrared temperature gun for your screen printing shop, look for one with a wide temperature range from min. 30-300°C (86-572°F), good accuracy (±1°C or ±1%), and of course, a clear display and comfortable grip are important for ease of use.

The Bottom Line

An infrared temperature gun is a valuable tool for any screen printer looking to streamline their process, maintain consistency, and troubleshoot temperature-related issues. By understanding how to use it effectively to monitor ink, platen, flash curing, and heat on cloth temperatures, you’ll be well on your way to consistency every time. So if you haven’t already, consider adding an infrared temperature gun to your screen printing toolkit – it’ll quickly become an indispensable ally in your print shop.

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