"OutGassing" - it takes time!

OutGassing is an essential part of the production process, but it's not conducive to quick turnaround work or short lead times. What are the implications when time doesn't allow proper outgassing of a print?

In these days of last minute ordering and fast turnaround it's not unusual for us to be asked to print at 1pm, laminate and ship by 4pm on the same day. However, there are implications to this that need to be understood. 

Inks need to "gas". Once printed carrier elements in the ink need time to leave the surface of the material. The very same applies to solvent, and water based inks, pigment and dye. 

With heavy ink coverage using solvent inks it can take 24 - 36 hours for the ink to fully "out gas". If a laminate is applied prior to that remaining gas is trapped. Water based inks take less time to fully "out gas", but 24 hours is still recommended where there's heavy ink coverage.

There are two main issues with laminating prior to a graphic fully out-gassing. Firstly, in extreme circumstances, the trapped gas can lead to the laminate failing over time. Secondly, and especially with water based inks, the colour changes during the outgassing process, as the ink "dries". 

During the process of gassing the appearance of the print changes a little. Allowing 24 hours between print and laminating is important to ensure accurate colour. Laminating before gassing is complete effectively traps the ink in its condition at time of laminating. So, for example, if running a series of pop up drops, if the prints went straight from printer to laminator, the first would have had longer to gas than the first, and a small colour difference could exist between each of the panels until all had gassed fully.

At Hudson's we shout about our accurate colour. It's a major part of our offer. Our workflow is setup so that colours are accurate when prints are allowed to gas fully. If you need a laminated print, and you need it so fast you can't wait for a print to gas, you are running the risk that it won't be exactly the right colour (we are talking VERY small margins here, sometimes unnoticeable, but sometimes obvious - depending on the artwork colours (most obvious in neutrals.))

The outgassing process should also be considered when framing art prints behind glass. An unlaminated print that is still outgassing, when framed behind glass, may cause the glass to mist.

Sometimes the time demands are such that waiting for a print to fully gas isn't an option you have. This article just serves to highlight the risks involved when choosing to skip the out gassing process.