Since 2005, the Riley Hopkins press has evolved 11 times. If you look back into Riley Hopkins's history, there’s been a lot of improvement. Over the years the engineers behind the press have consistently turned up the heat to match printers’ demands. Every press is built like a race car to improve at top speed from lap 1 to 499.
Riley Hopkins presses are constantly being upgraded to make printers’ crafts easier. Chris Drury, Director of Manufacturing and Warehouse, walks through a timeline of Riley Hopkins presses.
Consistent press updates wouldn’t be possible without having a local headquarters in the U.S.A. to tweak and improve the screen printing machines. A screen printing press built by hand is better than a mass-produced printing machine because there are many eyes and hands-on in every part of the press and through every step of the process. The manufacturing team knows what quality looks like.
"We want to control our quality," Chris said.
When the manufacturing team hears of pain points from real-life print shops, they get to work. The issue is addressed and improved based on what screen printers need from their press.
According to Chris, a Riley Hopkins press is great to own because it won't need lots of maintenance (but if you do need to fix something, we’re here to help to make the process painless). When you buy a Riley Hopkins press, you're getting something more than the product.
"Once you buy a Riley Hopkins press, you're invited into the Ryonet family," Chris said. "You get the opportunity to partner with someone who actually cares if you grow."
So how have these presses continued to come out on top? Let’s take a trip through the evolution of Riley Hopkins presses.
RILEY HOPKINS 300
The Riley Hopkins 300 is the oldest press in the line. It has had many different names throughout its lifespan. First, it was simply called the “Riley Hopkins.” It featured a tubular structure that Riley Hopkins designed in his garage, constructed to fit in Hopkins’s Buick. The press had joystick registration that mimicked a race car’s gear shift.
You may know or see similar presses called the “WIN Series.” These presses are similar to the original Riley Hopkins in their construction. Still equipped with joystick registration, these presses got a bit of an update. The tubular structure didn’t have the stability that many printers wanted. Chris Drury listened to feedback and changed this design. The new press had laser-constructed steel legs, making it extra sturdy. In the previous press, four spring plungers held the print stations in place as they spun from station to station. Changing this system to a detent wheel stop meant extra stability and durability, both of which are big deals for printers.
THE RILEY 300
The WIN series solved a lot of issues for printers, but Drury and the team still weren’t satisfied. In 2018, the Riley Hopkins 300 was born. The blue and green colors of the WIN series changed to a green base, black center, and white color wheel. The manufacturing team also created a one-size-fits-all base, so the press was the same size no matter the printhead configuration. This cut costs on both ends — manufacturing costs and final price — and saved time.
At the time of this change, the Riley 300 also had an alternate version: the Aero. This press was identical to the 300, except it had a square base instead of the trademark circular base. In 2018, the Aero Press was discontinued to keep the best, most popular press going full throttle. Joystick registration was also phased out, and XYZ micro registration became the standard.
The overhaul of the 300 didn’t stop there, though. Drury wanted to create the best print head possible to match the aircraft-grade construction of the base. First of all, the cast aluminum print head was transformed into a billet aluminum, making it much easier to produce and giving the print head a sleek look. Drury added another spring on each side of the print head for added safety, and added a thrust washer to assist in locking down micros.
Before, adjusting off-contact and tilt meant that screen printers needed to get out of the toolbox, using a wrench to adjust the bolt. The 300 features knobs for off-contact and tilt adjustment, making the process a lot easier for printers. The registration gate also got an upgrade, and Drury added a hardened registration block. Printers don’t need to worry about the registration block wearing out.
Most recently, the Riley Hopkins 300 got a new paint job. The press is now a sleek black instrument of precision and performance that will fire on all cylinders for life.
The 300 is the largest press in the Riley Hopkins line, but its smaller counterparts are made with the same quality. Let’s check out the tabletop presses.
RILEY HOPKINS 250
Tabletop screen printing presses are a great step into screen printing. They provide many of the same benefits as a free-standing press, but take up a little less space and come in at a lower price point. The first tabletop press that the Riley Hopkins line offered was the Riley Jr.
The Riley Jr. was created based on the Silver Press, owned by ScreenPrinting.com. The Silver Press was a 4-color 1-station press. The goal of the Riley Jr. line was to provide a tabletop press that would provide printers a natural step up from the Silver Press.
In 2020, the Riley Hopkins Jr. press became the Riley Hopkins 250. Three things are different between the 250 and the Jr. — titled micros, locking levers, and a new paint job. Tilted micros offer additional stability to hold screens during production. Printers no longer have to worry about accidentally knocking a screen out of place during production. The tilted micros lock screens in, streamlining production runs.
Improvement for registration goes a step further with the locking levers. The same locking levers that exist on the Riley Hopkins 300 presses, the levers provide better leverage for tightening and loosening registration.
With high-production and side-hustle shops printing happily, there was just one more customer base to satisfy: the novice printers.
T-shirts courtesy of SanMar.
RILEY HOPKINS 150
Remember the Silver Press? Well, this 4-color, 1-station press was a great starting press for many screen printers. However, it wasn’t as sturdy as the Riley Hopkins presses. Drury decided that the Silver Press needed a serious upgrade. The Riley Hopkins 150 was born.
This well-engineered press has all the same parts and construction as the 250 and 300. Printers just starting out can get a taste of quality, and can whip into action. It’s like putting semi-truck axles on a Volkswagen Beetle. The presses are made out of hot-rolled steel and aircraft-grade aluminum; their durability means it'll last a long time.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE RILEY HOPKINS 150
HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM THE RILEY 250?
The main difference between the Riley 250 and the 150 is that the 150 is simpler. When you don't have to worry about fancy stuff like micro registration, you can dive right into the basics and build a strong printing foundation.
Another difference is that the 150 is lighter. The lighter weight is extremely helpful if you're printing live, it's less weight to lug around.
THE PERFECT PRESS FOR BEGINNERS
The Riley 150 launched in April 2020. Yep, right as a global pandemic turned the world as we knew it upside down. This compact, economical press provided many people with a means of making some extra cash with a side hustle and started many printers down the road of screen printing.
In 2020, the United States saw a record amount of new businesses opening their doors. 4.4 million businesses started up at the height of the pandemic, a 24% increase from 2019. Screen printing shops played a big role in this small business boom.
Josh Dykstra, the owner of PRNT SCRN Screen Printing, started his side hustle in Tampa, Florida, with a 150 4x1. Now, he’s expanded to a used 4x2 Riley Jr. Josh uses the 150 to print at live screen printing gigs and uses the Jr. for his print shop.
There are a ton more examples of thriving print shops that jump-started their business with a 150. The bottom line? With a press that’s always improving, you can raise your level of performance knowing we’ve got your back.
Printers with a tabletop press like the 150 or 250 need to mount the press to something sturdy. Queue Riley Hopkins press carts. These carts have been best friends with tabletop presses for years. Now, they’re better than ever. With improved stability, larger surface area, more storage for screens, and optional pivot caster wheels, these carts are born to perform. Use them as a mount for a tabletop press, a place to store screens, or a utility cart.
Each press cart corresponds with a tabletop press. The single-station press cart is perfect for a 150 or a 250 4x1. The multi-station press cart is just the right printing height for a 250 (that has more than one printing station), as the addition of another platen arm makes the press a bit taller.
No matter which press you have, using a sturdy press cart can make printing feel like taking a victory lap.
Wow, that’s a lot of improvement. Since its beginning in 2005, the Riley Hopkins line of manual screen printing presses has only improved. And as long as we have anything to say about it, the presses will continue to get better and better. Start your engine and fire on all cylinders with a printing press that expands your limits and a pit crew you can trust.