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Planning for Your First Automatic, Part 2

(September 2007) posted on Fri Sep 14, 2007

The author's diccussion about upgrading to an automatic garment press continues with an examination of additional costs you'll incur as a direct result of the new machine.

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By Rick Davis

Starting my company with manual equipment and dealing with many smaller sized runs made it easy for me to work with small cups of ink when I needed to match a Pantone color. Even though your ink consumption per garment may remain the same, a cup of ink in a screen that’s on an automated press won’t even be enough to flood the screen for a single print. Plan to purchase larger ink containers, because a great deal more ink is required for the automated screen-printing process to run unattended for any period of time.

Quart containers work well for small runs, and if you were previously purchasing quart quantities of mixing colors for PMS matches, you can now plan on purchasing mixing colors by the gallon. While you’re at it, you can now also buy five-gallon containers of black, white, and your more popular colors. Your ink consumption will increase with larger run sizes, but you should see an additional discount from your suppliers for buying larger quantities.


Power requirements

One of the most important aspects of going automatic is making sure you have ample access to electricity. You must evaluate and determine the power requirements for your new press, as well as the requirements of the additional pieces of equipment we reviewed earlier.

Many manual screen-printing facilities can run a small infrared dryer on 220-volt, single-phase electricity and a flash unit on a 110-volt line. The facility I used previously would have required an investment on my part of more than $6000 to bring in three-phase power. Needless to say, I found a new facility that has more floor space and meets the power requirements to accommodate the additional equipment. In the end, buying the new press necessitated the purchase of additional supplies and pieces of equipment, as well as relocation of my entire facility to meet all of the demands that resulted from the press upgrade.


Plan ahead

Buying an automatic press is more than an investment in a single piece of machinery. It’s a complex undertaking that requires you to rethink procedures, buy additional supplies, and incur additional expenses. You must be able to justify the entire investment based on your company’s current level of business, income, and rate of growth. You can easily spend all of your operational capital to find that you do not have the required volume of business to sustain the costs that come with the upgrade. The entire process may seem overwhelming, but careful analysis and planning before the big purchase will make your new commitment one that is satisfying and rewarding.


Rick Davis is the president of Synergy Screen Printing in Orlando, FL. A 27-year veteran of the textile-printing industry, Davis is a member of the Academy of Screenprinting Technology and has a background that spans production management, artwork engineering, application testing, and industry consulting. He is a frequent contributor to trade publications and a speaker at industry trade events.



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