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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

One of my favorite alternative systems doesn’t use carrier sheets. It involves a custom light box with padded edges that fits exactly inside the screen frame’s dimensions. This light box has a non-UV light in it with a top marked with a grid of lines that can be used for film-positive alignment (Figure 4). This way, the films can come straight from the art department without the added time of the carrier sheet. After screen exposure, a matching grid overlay is put on the platen to aid in aligning the screens as they are locked into the press. The process takes more time on press to a small degree, but it completely eliminates the labor of dealing with carrier sheets. This is a great approach for smaller shops.

The last wrinkle in registration systems comes from the new CTS machines. The beauty with these machines is that they do a great job in locating the image in the same area on the screen without any of the issues associated with the use of films. The only hurdle is in locking the imaged screens into the press in the same location relative to the center of the platen. Some units have pin systems that work great for this. Other, somewhat minor, issues with these systems include watching out for differences in screen tension and making sure that the digital location of the file is were it needs to be on the screen to avoid large press movements that can mess up subsequent jobs.


Employee involvement

One aspect of the registration challenge that no one likes to talk about, but probably has the greatest effect on the whole process, is employee efficiency and intensity. The term intensity is used here to describe the quality of a worker who has a focused drive to move through jobs and see how quickly and effectively a setup can be achieved. Such a quality is very difficult, if not impossible, to instill or teach, yet it is great to reward intensity if you can find it.

We have many ways to handle the task of registering a set of screens, but the employee is the one who feels the sense of pride in speed and task completion and who has the intensity to harness the real benefits from a registration system. The new recruits who initially have a hard time registering a job without such a system are often tomorrow’s superstars. In time, they alone will demonstrate the speed and power of a well-tuned registration system.


The opinions and recommendations expressed in this column are Mr. Trimingham’s and not necessarily those of Screen Printing magazine.


Thomas Trimingham is an award-winning art director, illustrator, and separator who has more than 16 years of experience in the screen-printing industry. He can be reached at










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