Buying Screen Printing Equipment

What Is Screen Printing

Applications of Screen Printing

Buying Screen Printing Equipment

Tips To Improve Screen Print Quality

 

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If you are looking to set up your own screen printing unit, whether for commercial purposes or personal use, you will need to invest in some basic screen printing equipment. A manual printing press, a flash curing unit and a conveyor dryer are some pieces of screen printing equipment that you will need.

Here are some tips on helping you select the best screen printing equipment for your use.

Selecting A Manual Printing Press

There are a wide variety of printing presses in the market. It can be pretty difficult to pick one. Keep in mind the following things when shopping for a manual printing press and you should be able to make a good choice.
  • Buy a six-color or four-color press: Depending on your requirements look to buy a six-color or four-color press. If you are setting up a small unit for specific purposes only, then a four-color press should suffice. However, if you are looking to use the press for commercial uses, it will be better to spend a little extra and buy the six-color press to keep pace with competition.
  • Ensure that the press is sturdy. Buying a really sturdy press can drive the cost a little higher but it will be worth it in the end. If the center arm that holds the shirtboard is not sturdy and bends or bows, the print quality will be compromised.
  •  Micro adjustment can really help speed things up and better the print quality. Not an essential requirement but very desirable.
  • Look for a press that says "All Heads Down". This means that you have six printing heads over six printing stations and can have more than one person print at the same time. This will allow you to multiply your production many times over with just one press.

Selecting A Flash Curing

A flash curing unit is the same heater that is used in a conveyor dryer except it does not have the conveyor or tunnel. Since flash curing units use infrared rays that only cure the surface they touch and do not heat the air around it, a tunnel is not absolutely essential. The flash curing unit will work equally well without the tunnel.

You can get a cure in just a few seconds with a flash curing unit and hence the name - flash or spot curing unit.

  • Depending on the usage decide on the size of the heater. If you plan to use it only for a specific purpose and a specific size of prints then you can choose a smaller heater measuring 16" x 16". However, for commercial purposes something in the range of 24" x 24" is really required.
  • Invest in a sturdy stand if you want to avoid tipping over the heater. Good large wheels on the stand are also a great idea because you are invariably moving the heater around.
  • Get a heater with the automatic cycle feature. It will more than pay for itself by saving you curing time and a lot of trouble wondering whether the print has been cured or not.
  •  Some manufacturers promote a heat controller but most printers tend to run their units on full heat anyways. So pay for this only if you are sure you want to use it.

Selecting A Conveyor Dryer

If you are looking to print large quantities of t-shirts or merchandise with your screen printing unit, then a conveyor dryer is a must. A flash dryer can generally handle a few dozen t-shirts a week comfortably. But for greater quantities, you need to upgrade to a conveyor dryer.

  • Decide on the conveyor size depending on your requirements. A 6' to 8' long dryer with a 24" conveyor can generally handle about 8-12 dozen shirt an hour. If you increase that to a 8' to 10' dryer with a 30" conveyor you can cure almost twice the number of shirts.
  • Look for adjustable heater height so that by lowering the height you can get the ink to dry faster and yet accommodate taller products through the dryer when needed.
  •  Look for a dryer that is easy to maintain and find spare parts for. Some of the larger, fancier dryers are so fancy that it can take days to get them apart, fix the part and restart them. This can cost you good money. Try buying a dryer under warranty or sign up an annual maintenance contract.
  • Forced air feature is good if you plan to print with air-dry inks used for towels and non-textiles.

Thus, you must decide on the output you expect from your screen printing equipment to help you buy the right equipment. Also, keep in mind your expansion plans when buying the unit so that you don't have to reinvest in expensive screen printing equipment too soon.

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