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Troubleshooting Production Problems

(January 2009) posted on Tue Jan 13, 2009

The art of troubleshooting relies heavily on the science of identifying and managing variables. Find out how to develop the skill to spot problems with screen tension, moir

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By Rick Davis

Variables found in the garment-printing process have produced many a gray hair for apparel decorators ever since the first time a screen was lowered onto a T-shirt. Printers spend countless hours in their careers attempting to identify variables and deal with their effects. Variables plague both manual and automatic press setups.

Successful garment screen printing requires the skill to troubleshoot the process quickly and determine what changes take place during printing. Developing that ability is one big challenge new printers face.

Press operators are also under pressure to meet certain production requirements and, in some cases, are paid based on that productivity. This makes the need to troubleshoot and resume production promptly even more critical.

The ability to troubleshoot the printing process effectively is an acquired skill, but one that needs to be developed early in your production staff. Here we’ll consider troubleshooting at the press and review tips for resolving a few of the potentially major issues that are likely to turn up as a result.


The complexity of finding and fixing issues

In order to properly troubleshoot the on-press printing process, you must first have a good knowledge of the potential variables—the shifts or changes that can take place during production. At least 50 known variables affect the garment-printing process, and nearly every one of those variables can affect the quality of the print during production.

One of the greatest reasons that troubleshooting the garment-printing process is so complex is largely due to the fact that we have no standards by which to live. With the exception of the recommendations made by product suppliers and technical publications, the printer is own his own to perfect the process and learn what works.

The first step in troubleshooting on-press issues is to develop the ability to determine that something has changed since the start of the production run. This is best accomplished by keeping the approved strike-off at the unload position of the press and at the end of the dryer. You’ll readily detect an issue once a variation appears between the strike-off and the prints you’re removing from the press.


Troubleshooting screen tension


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