Understand the cost savings and higher profitability that comes from knowing how to print halftones well.
5. You can reduce screen and ink costs by simplifying jobs.
One simple point of savings to consider: If you know how to print a halftone well, you may be able to simplify the artwork and reduce the number of screens and colors without detracting from what the client wants the finished garment to look like. For example, you can create a wide variety of shades on a colored garment by breaking one image into dots of varying size and printing them in different values with just one screen. Using this concept can save money for you and your client, and make jobs go through the shop faster.
6. You’ll generate less scrap.
Scrap is the dirty little secret that printers avoid dealing with until the end of the year or inventory day. You can usually tell when printers don’t look closely at their positives or screens because they have a lot of misprinted shirts stuffed in boxes that they use as they set up their presses.
Taking the time to make sure you have quality screens and positives will trickle down to fewer mistakes on press. This can save you a lot of money, not just through the cost of the scrap garments, but also the production time of stopping the job, setting it up again, ordering and handling the replacement garments, and more.
Maintaining print quality over a longer halftone run can be a challenge because you must control a lot of variables to maintain consistency and efficiency. The goal is to use the least amount of ink you can to get a great print. Over a long run, excess ink will not always flash cure properly and if uncured ink is picked up by subsequent screens, the color will eventually shift. You can add extra flashes to help prevent this, but this can cause additional problems as heat builds up in the platens. The more experience you have running high-volume halftone jobs, the better your instincts will be on whether a design will print well or needs to be adjusted to avoid a lot of production problems.
7. Learning to print halftones well will make all your prints better.
This isn’t talked about often, but a nice by-product of learning to print halftones is that the same high-quality procedures you put in place will make your entire shop more efficient, cleaner, and more profitable. Your employees will become more detail-oriented and catch issues in the film, screenmaking, and press-check stages. Even when an order doesn’t have halftones, press operators and screen department workers will catch bad results more often. Jobs that involve small type, fine lines, and sharp details will have less scrap and fewer screen revisions. That means additional savings for you.
8. You’ll be able to compete for bigger, more profitable orders.
The proof of better quality is in the printing, and so are the profits. There is no better sales tool in screen printing than an amazing looking, high-end print that has excellent detail and great halftones. If a prospect is concerned about your company’s ability to handle its work (perhaps because its last printer wasn’t able to) and you send them an example of a great print, very little needs to be discussed after that. Great prints create opportunities for more business from all levels of customers and are a clear representation that you are not just another screen printer.
Shops that have mastered the halftone-printing process can easily engineer and print higher-level designs, enabling them to solicit bigger clients that request these types of products. The profit margin for this type of work is higher, and the clients expect and value quality results. They place larger orders, appreciate good service, and tend to be more loyal. Ultimately, you’ll be seen as a top-end printer that isn’t selling a commodity and can charge higher prices and work with better clients.
Thomas Trimingham has worked in screen printing for more than 21 years as an industry consultant, freelance artist, and high-end separator. He is an award-winning illustrator, designer, and author of more than 110 articles on screen printing art and separations. For more information, visit www.screenprintingartist.com.
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