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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.

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By Thomas Trimingham

A quality registration system has an element that assists in aligning image location on screens to an identical registration position on the printing platen. Some presses have pins in the screen clamps, but problems with platens or off-contact will cause the registration to suffer. If everything is in order, however, then this is when the registration system really shines. You can likely save 10-25 minutes in press setup by using a system on multicolor jobs that allows a lock-and-load start with some minor adjustments.


Process overview and exceptions

Registration-system setup can be quite simple; however, there are some interesting considerations to keep in mind. A careful review of total time spent will often show that the increases in press time are offset to a degree by setup times in the screen and art departments. Having to load films onto carrier sheets is often quickly shopped out of the art department, where costs are higher, and then the screen department can become backlogged due to the lack of information flow from each job (how will the job be placed on the shirt and attached to the carrier sheet to locate on the platen?). This issue calls for a more complex and detailed printer sheet that shows the shirt profile and print location, including references as to how it should be placed onto the carrier sheets (Figure 3).

Exceptions to the common use of registration systems with pins and carrier sheets abound in screen printing. Some firms align images according to the exposure glass and locators on the edges of the glass for the screens to sit in the same spot. Other companies have alternative systems that use arms that rotate out from the press and lock in the frames or special pins that align to the press clamps and electronic preregistration that is programmed into the press. Any of these can work, but the key is an objective review of where the time is going and system’s final effect on the set-up times.


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