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Standardizing Separations

(October 2010) posted on Tue Sep 21, 2010

Steps a screen printer can take to standardize production to increase consistency so that time is saved and press set ups can go quickly

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By Thomas Trimingham

While it is certain that PMS matches will still be made, the standard ink palette can save boatloads of time if the sales force properly embraces it and sells from the stock ink list first.
Once the standard inks are defined, then it becomes a process of how separations can be manipulated to attempt to use these inks whenever possible to increase profitability. Whenever a separation set is not a critical color match, efforts can be made to steer the artwork (and the client) into approving a proof using stock inks.

Press standard settings
Getting a working shop to do testing is like taking the chain off of a bicycle. All of a sudden everything stops! But testing to determine the best press settings is a very rare process in most shops. Truthfully, the majority of screen printers do not have a clear idea of what settings on their presses give them the best results. The common objection to this is that each job requires a setting change to perform well, but remember that this is because there are issues in the separation and art departments. Once the standards in these departments are followed, then the press can be set up and left with the optimal settings for the majority of jobs.

One way to set up standards on the press is to run tests with ink colors to look at colors on and off of an underbase (Figure 4). This has the dual purpose of creating an ink reference book and an art guide at the same time to show how the inks perform on and off of an underbase. Creating this book is an excellent time to dial in the press settings and see what pressure, off-contact, and screen tension, etc. creates the best prints that hold the details.

Standardizing separations
Creating standards in the separation process is greatly simplified if the inbound artwork, inks, and press setup are already consistent. It is amazing how quickly a job can be split and sent to films when other systems are in place and ready.


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