These five key process areas present opportunities to reduce the price of raw materials and more.
By Mike Ruff
Stencil quality relates directly to the sharpness of the lines and/or dots you can print. Different applications require different levels of quality. If fine detail is a big factor, as it is in industrial printing, you probably need to use a capillary film. It costs more, but it sails through production and the customer is thrilled with the result. In process color, some of worst looking dots I have ever seen wow people in printing competitions. What the viewers don’t realize is that these nasty looking dots may create one great print, but will never be repeatable. They can cause colors to shift during the run, which will kill production and destroy profit margins. The stencil plays a huge role in determining the quality of the lines or dots you can reproduce. Don’t compromise with an inferior stencil system.
Equipment and production
Which is best for your facility: Conventional screenmaking with vacuum frames and film positives, direct to screen, or computer to screen? It depends. Again, it starts with the end result you’re trying to achieve. Determine if your existing equipment is meeting the following needs:
1. What is the definition of good quality internally and to your clients?
2. What equipment issue is stopping or slowing down your production?
3. What level of screen quality do you need to be completely and totally predictable at the press?
4. How many screens are needed to easily keep up with production?
5. What is the image quality that is acceptable at production speed?
6. Is your current equipment meeting these needs?
7. What is the cost to change, refurbish, or buy new equipment?
8. What is the cost if you don’t upgrade?
All of these questions relate to getting the print quality your customers expect at production speed. If you aren’t getting that now, do not hesitate to upgrade your screenmaking equipment or completely change your screen-imaging methodology. You cannot afford for weak technology here to slow down your printing presses or lower the quality of your final output. The cost of bad or slow production is too high.
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