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How To Choose an Automatic Screen Printing Press

Written by Lauren Salzman

Jan 4, 2022 8:27:58 AM

 

If you have been screen printing with a manual press for a while and the jobs are building up, or if you're just tired of pulling the squeegee all day, it might be time to invest in an automatic screen printing press. Due to the increase in labor shortages, shops and people are buying presses at an all-time high, so if you've decided it is time, here are the things to look for in an automatic press. 

Number of Heads

As with every piece of equipment, we will recommend the largest machine with the most heads that will fit in your shop and that you can afford. One key thing to note is that with automatic presses, using a flash will take up a head. Automatic screen printing presses generally start at 8/6 - meaning 8 stations and 6 heads, and can go up to 52/48.

The most useful and common configurations for screen presses are 12/10 and 14/12. With a 12/10 press, you can easily manage 5 and 6 color jobs, while a 14/12 will give you more room to add flashes to make 6 and 7 color jobs a walk in the park. Even if you are planning on printing one and two-color jobs, a larger press will allow you to have multiple jobs set up at a time.

Ease of Job Setup

It is important to consider how easy it is to set up your screen printing jobs. M&R presses use an artwork and screen registration system called Tri-Loc or Tri-Sync, in which your artwork is lined up in the same spot on all your screens. When the screens are ready, you can use a Tri-Loc pallet to line up your screens on the press efficiently.

If you are planning to expand beyond one automatic press, the Tri-Loc/Tri-Sync system also works very well with Computer-to-Screen systems, making your workflow more efficient.

Speed

If you are a one-person operation, the speed at which your press can go really won't matter too much. But if you're planning on having a press operator, a puller to pull shirts off the press, and a person at the end of the dryer catching the garments, you will probably want to look for a fast-indexing automatic screen printing press.

A couple of things will affect how fast your press can run. First, a servo indexing system will be much faster and more accurate than a pneumatic indexing system. Second, if you're really looking for a screamin' fast press, look for a machine in which the heads raise and lower instead of the pallets. The raise/lower action of pallets is much slower than the raise/lower action of heads.

Fortunately, the addition of servo motors for both indexing and printing improves not only the speed but also the quality and reliability of your press.

Reliability & Availability of Parts

M&R is known in the screen printing industry for making the most reliable machines available - many people run their machines for 20+ years and have millions upon millions of impressions. And while you never want it to happen, machines break down. The important part is to make sure you can be back up and running quickly. Fortunately, M&R keeps a deep inventory of replacement parts in stock and can ship these products out quickly. They also have an extensive technical network across the USA to provide service promptly.

Consider your Facilities

An automatic press is just one component in the leap to automatic printing. Alongside the press, you will probably need to invest in flash units, a larger dryer, and an air compressor. All this equipment is going to draw a lot of power and space - be sure your facility can handle it!

Finally, make sure that the base of your press will fit through the doorway into the production area. Many presses have large bases, and if you only have a 36" door, you will run into issues from the very beginning! The M&R Cobra will fit through a 38" door, while the Diamondback presses can fit through a 31" doorway.

So, Which Press is Right for Me?

The best automatic screen printing press to buy is the largest and fastest press that you can afford and that you can fit in your facility. By doing this, you will future-proof your shop and be able to rake in profits for years to come.

For more information visit the Grimco website, or contact your Grimco Screen Sales team at screensales@grimco.com

 

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