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Eight Ways to Build a Better Process

(December 2000) posted on Wed Mar 28, 2001

Davis presents eight ways to build a better textile-printing operation, including a standardized procedure that ensures consistent quality from production run to production run.

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By Rick Davis

As another year comes to an end, I would like to summarize my thoughts on achieving consistent quality control through process standardization. The greatest challenge in developing standardized procedures is that once the standards are established, you must maintain those procedures so that the quality-control process is ongoing and does not fall by the wayside. It is easy to allow standardized procedures to slip, and if they do, you'll inevitability see a decrease or loss of quality.

A well-known Wonder Bread ad campaign once told us that the bread would "build better bodies, eight ways." This month, I present eight ways for building a better textile-printing operation. The following suggestions form a totally standardized procedure that ensures consistent quality from production run to production run.

1. Stencil reclaiming

Maintaining a standardized procedure in screen reclaiming--a work area that is inherently wet and messy--is no easy task. The point that some overlook is that while reclaiming is one of the most rudimentary and basic procedures, it has enormous impact on the overall productivity and quality delivered by your facility. To ensure consistent quality in screen reclaiming, do the following:

First, make sure to use at least a 2000- to 2500-psi pressure washer, which will extract residue from between the knuckles of the mesh (the residue can create "ghost" images). Using the correct washing technique in conjunction with the correct screen tension and exposure often eliminates the need for ghost or haze removers. Insufficient tension requires more squeegee pressure, which puts wear and tear on the screen, making it harder to reclaim. Also, underexposed stencils like to fuse with ink and then refuse to be reclaimed.

The second tip involves technique. Many screen breakdowns and pinholes occur due to poor washing and rinsing procedures. Screenroom personnel must reclaim screens in a slow and methodical manner to ensure that the most possible residue is removed.

In addition, make sure that the frame also has been thoroughly rinsed to prevent residual chemicals from contaminating the image area of the screen. Slacking off on that procedure can lead to horrific loss of production time and have a negative impact on quality. A screen is not properly reclaimed until all traces of the stencil and cleaning chemicals have been removed.

2. Stencil-coating consistency


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