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Standardization Secrets for Screen Printing

(June 2013) posted on Wed Jul 03, 2013

Stand back and see what you can do to organize your shop processes.

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By Thomas Trimingham

The advantages of standardizing the screen-printing process are enormous when looked at on a weekly and monthly basis. All of the seemingly small time savings add up to big rewards as the months go by. The hardest part can often be just getting started, and then the challenge becomes focusing on what to standardize within the printing process that will yield the best results.

In addition to saving time by creating a more efficient process, a screen printer can achieve higher levels of detail by clearly understanding the variables inherent to the print, no matter how complex. To achieve more detail and improve print quality, think backwards instead of forwards in regards to screen printing. In other words, it can be easier to work with a shop’s existing process in printing, screens, and artwork than trying to revamp the entire process from the beginning.

A careful review of a printed shirt with a specific test image will tell you all the vital information you need to then go backwards through your process and start to apply standardization techniques. Often, some simple tweaks to a couple of areas can yield big advances in a print shop’s ability to control details during a print run.

A common barrier to this process is more about attitude than shop processes. Printers, artists, and support staff reach a level of comfort in knowledge and methods they use repeatedly, and it can be an uphill battle to consider new techniques. Extra steps, no matter how important, can be viewed as a burden when the whole issue isn’t considered or when the department in question is viewed as doing something wrong or less efficient than ideal.

A good way to approach the implementation of higher standards is to involve everyone in the overall process and goal setting so that they understand how their effort will help with overall print quality. One example of this is to show how having the tension on every screen clearly marked after reclamation aids the screenmaking department in choosing the right screens for higher quality jobs. Everyone can then understand the necessity of marking tension on every screen.
If possible, show a visual example—one that presents the difference between a print on a poorly tensioned screen and the results on a properly tensioned one. such demonstrations are better motivators than simly talking about the issue.


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