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Getting Registered Right from the Start

(June 2008) posted on Mon Jun 16, 2008

Achieving proper registration at the front end of your production workflow is critical for reducing setup time and boosting profits. Trimingham discusses how you can reap the benefits of such a system.


By Tom Trimingham

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Watching a new recruit trying to register a garment-printing job on a manual press is a lot like riding in a car with a student driver. Whoa! A little too far to the left…and then zoom! Too far off to the right. You’re in for a long trip if the print is rotated and out of alignment. The process of quickly registering screens on press is commonly thought of as a printer’s job and, for the most part, an activity that requires skill and experience. That may be true to a degree on a manual press without a registration system, but the more automated a shop is, the earlier we must address registration in the screenmaking process.

Proper preparation for screen registration ideally starts in the art department and should be managed there instead of in the screen-prep or production areas. The reality is that every screen-printing shop needs to take a serious look at instituting a clear and functional registration system for minimizing downtime on press. This article will discuss some of the methods you can explore in realizing the ultimate goal: to save money by streamlining press setup.

 

Manage variables, save time

The savings from an effective registration system become clear when you investigate the true cost of poor and inconsistent registration during job setup. Just time your setup on all jobs for two weeks and then average it. Establish the standard time and set a realistic goal for achievement using a registration system. You may already have a registration system but opt not to use it because you prefer to wing it. The challenge in that scenario is to pit the team against the timer. Have them time a typical average and then have some supervised setup test averages established using the registration system. The timer doesn’t lie. When you add up groups of 15-minute intervals across a week, you’ll find the time represents multiple jobs you could have put on press.

Failure to control the variables associated with using a registration system is a big reason why companies that have such systems don’t use them and, therefore, don’t see the benefit. The institution of an effective registration system requires that you have control of certain screen and press issues:

• Film positives can be printed out with acceptable registration relative to each other.

• Screens are in good condition with similar tension.


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