If you have been thinking about getting into screen printing this blog post will help provide you with the information needed to make an educated decision. First ask yourself why you want to do this, is it to be you own boss, provide a service, do something you love doing or you have the entrepreneurial spirit. Once you have worked that out, you should start to write your business plan, this will be used to guide you along the way and help you from straying from your goals. The business plan will force you to work out many of the serious questions and serve as a guide to handle the challenges ahead.
Here is a list of the equipment needed to get into the screen printing business. There will be many variations within this list but it will be based on our recommendations on the “Best Practices” when it comes to the minimal equipment needed to have a manual screen printing business.
- Screen printing press
- Belt dryer
- Exposure unit
- Flash dryer
- Washout booth
- Printer capable of printing pure black film positives
- Some type of artwork software
The screen printing press comes in a variety of configurations from a single color press with one pallet to a 14 color press, our recommendation would be between 4 or 6 and up 8 for starters. We recommend the 6 color/6 station press if you can afford it, the costs are not that mush more and it will enable you to do almost any job that comes through your doors. Since it has all arms down you can have six people printing at one time and can be almost as fast as an automatic with experienced operators. Typically there are 6/6, 6/4, presses the first number represents the number of colors that are possible and the second number is the number of stations where pallets will be. Anatol
Belt dryer is needed to cure the printed garments and there are many to choose from, but the main objective is that you need to completely dry the ink after printing on the garments. In order to do this the ink needs to be at a certain temperature, for a certain amount of time, for the inks to cure. The amount of time and temperature with depend on the type of ink used, plastisol (Which is most common) or water based or discharge and they all need different temperatures and time at the prescribed temperature in order to dry. Some manufacturer’s will have you believe you need two very different dryers when trying to dry Plastisol or the water based and discharge inks, what we found was that the radiant heat dryers can do both very well. A brand that we recommend is Vastex
Exposure units come in UV or LED typically and again, if you can afford the LED this is a faster, cleaner, light source needed combined with the vacuum tops provide the best quality for screen making. The sizes also varies depending on the size screen you will be using because the screens must fit onto the exposure unit properly.
Flash dryer enables the printer to dry ink immediately without taking the garment off the press and then print an accent color or highlight on what was just printed. With multi color art you can’t remove the product until all colors have been applied or you loose the registration.
The washout booth is what is needed to reclaim the screens for the next job and is used in conjunction with filtration systems that clean 99% of the harmful deposits from entering the sewer system or septic system. This is where the soap solvents are applied and the screens are scrubbed and rinsed before allowing to dry and be recoated with emulsion ready for their next use. CCI
Printers can be purchased through screen printing distributers because they retro fit Brand name printers with special inks and soft ware specific to the screen printing industry. This typically comes in a package deal along with a special software that works with the printer. Epson or Brother and there are probably more, we advise talking with your distributer about your choices. http://www.ryonet.com
Artwork software is a matter of preference or what you are use to working with the most. Adobe or Corel Drawl are a few you can look at.
The computer just has to be powerful enough to support the art work software you choose.
If you’d like to know more about the equipment or the supplies that compliment this blog please leave a comment below.
See you soon!