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Manual Screen Printing Press Choices

Manual Screen Printing Press Choices

The ideal press for you depends on factors like your sales plan, the space
you have to operate your business, and money available.

 Another major consideration is whether you will be flash curing inks
frequently.  You would flash cure and underbase color, like white ink,
on a black shirt, before printing a yellow ink on top of the white ink.  The
underbase white makes the yellow brighter.  If you print 3-D inks or jackets,
you will likely be flash curing. 

If you have a single station and platen press, you pull the screen down, print,
pick up the screen, rotate the flash over the garment, wait 6-8 seconds, rotate
the flash away from the garment, and then wait until the ink cools before printing
the second color.  By contrast, if the press has multiple platens that
can be rotated, then after printing the first color the platen is rotated under
the flash dryer so you can be loading and printing the second garment while
the first garment is flash curing.  When you print the third garment the
second garment is flash curing and the first is cooling off before you print
the second color.  Multiple platens increase productivity, that is, pieces
per hour, dramatically, but such machines take a lot more space and cost a
lot more money.

Other considerations are your potential to expand revenue with more color
arms, platens, and attachments to print sleeves, jackets, caps, signs, transfers
and a lot more.  Your business will expand.  Will your equipment
expand with you, or will you be faced with replacing the equipment?

The platen must be supported so that it does not deflect during printing.  Deflection
leads to colors not registering relative to each other, uncontrolled ink deposits
and other frustrations.  You need a solid foundation under the prints
you create.

The diameter of the press is a major concern when purchasing a press with
more than one platen.  You will be rotating the screens and platens around
in a circle.  The distance you have to push the screens is a measure of
work.  The larger the circle, the fewer pieces per hour you will be able
to print.  The distance of that circle is measured by the diameter of
the circle times Pi (3.14).  So where there is a choice, you want the
smaller diameter press.

Look at construction issues.  Aluminum is lighter and less labor intensive
than steel to push all day.  What assures that all platens are level and
at the same elevation?  What kind of bracket is used to secure the platen,
and will tightening result in the platen moving out-of-square to the platen
arm?  What other features are there, and how do they compare to other

For more information on this subject, see:

Selecting a Manual Press

Videos that illustrate here are:

“Screen Printing – Getting Started”
“Screen Printing Press Orientation”

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