Ready to start printing multicolor jobs on your Riley Hopkins 150 Press? Dialing in registration is key to produce a professional print. Watch expert Colin Huggins go through his process of testing and perfecting the registration so you can crush your next print job.
Creating a productive layout for equipment will help you streamline production. First off, place your press in a space where you have room to install all the screens in the screen clamps and be able to move them around with ease.
Next up, the flash dryer. Place the flash close enough to the platen so when you swing the head over the platen, it covers the entire design. You also want it to be in a spot where it won't inhibit your production when you're not using it.
SETTING UP OFF-CONTACT
Off-contact is setting the screen slightly above the platen. Off-contact is important because if the screen was to lay on top of the platen, it would stick to the shirt when you lift up the screen after laying down ink. To set up the off-contact, you first need to level the printhead. Lock the screen into the press, bring the screen down onto the platen, and press your fingers into the corners of the screen to see whether or not it's level.
Pro Tip: When you lock in the screen in the screen clamp, twist both the knobs at the same time and at the same speed. That ensures that the screen doesn't become lopsided.
If you notice that one side is a bit higher than the other, you will have to adjust the printhead. Grab a 9/16" wrench and loosen the bolts on the back of the screen clamp. Adjust the printhead from side to side and tap the corners again to see if the printhead is level. Adjust accordingly. Tighten the bolts back in once it's level.
Now it's time to set up the off-contact. To see where the off-contact is at, poke at the top and bottom of the screen. If the off-contact needs to be adjusted, use the 9/16" wrench to loosen the top bolt on the off-contact bracket. You'll be able to move the screen up and down without lifting the arm of the press. Raise the screen to the desired off-contact height and hold the screen while tightening the bolt. Bring the screen up, give it a little shake, and bring it back down and press into the top and bottom of the screen to see where it's at. If it looks and feels good to you, then you're ready to begin registering.
If you'd like more information about setting up off-contact, check out this video where Colin dives deep into the process.
HOW TO REGISTER
Many methods exist for registering a print. Colin's way is to print the white base on a t-shirt, flash it, put packaging tape over the white base, and register the colors on top of the white base.
When printing the first layer of the white base, check to see if the screen snaps back. If it does, you set up a good amount of off-contact.
To register the other colors, first bring the arm down and loosen the screen clamp. Bring the screen slightly forward and align the stencil to the white base. Clamp the screen back in and check to see if the screen moved at all from the clamping. If the stencil is off, loosen the screen clamp slightly and tap the sides of the screen into place. Repeat clamping and double-checking if the stencil is still aligned.
Pro Tip: If you have poor eyesight or you are a perfectionist, consider getting a loop. You'll be able to see up close whether or not the stencil is aligned with the white base.
TAPING A SCREEN
New to the whole screen printing process? In the video, Colin shares his method of taping a screen. Again, there are a million ways to do each step of the screen printing process. Try out Colin's method to see if it works for you.
- Rip a piece of tape off for the short side of the screen closest to you. Hold the tape tight with both hands and smooth the piece of tape from top to bottom on the frame of the screen. Place another piece of tape on top of the screen to cover up where there isn't any emulsion. You should have a bit of tape sticking up from the frame, which will make it easier when it comes to removing the tape.
- Tape the long sides of the screen. First put tape down on top of the screen. Place another piece of tape if you have any exposure calculators on it. Place a third piece of tape along the side of the frame. Do this process on both sides.
- Same process — place a piece of tape on top of the screen. Put another piece along the side of the frame. You're done!
Pro Tip: For exposure calculators, registration marks, an extra stencil for a chest print, etc, put tape on the squeegee side rather than the shirt side of the screen. If you put the tape on the bottom of the screen, ink will build up there and dry, locking the pigment into the mesh (causing heavy staining). Putting the tape on top of the screen means the ink will not dry out within the image.
TESTING THE REGISTRATION
Now that all the screens are taped up, it's time to check to see if each color aligns with the white base.
Place packaging tape on top of the white base (make sure you cover the entire print, including registration marks).
Now, you're going to need a bit more off-contact to play off the added layer from the white base. Don't worry, you don't need to go back to fiddling with the bolts and the screen. All you need is an object with a consistent thickness like a cleanup card or quarter. Place the object on top of the "Do-Not-Touch" bolt and the off-contact will be increased. You don't need a lot! Something thin will do the job.
Start printing. Print the first color and then look at the print. You may notice the color might be slightly off. If it is, slightly loosen the screen clamp and tap the screen into alignment. Lock it back in and print again. Keep checking until it looks spot-on. Do the same for each color. Print the white base one more time just to make sure it hasn't moved at all.
When registration looks good, remove the packaging tape and print all the colors again to test out the registration one last time. Make any adjustments if you see anything off.
That's it! Your print is registered and you're ready to begin production. If you have any questions about your 150 press, please do not hesitate to ask for help. You may call us at 1-800-314-6390 or chat with us through the messenger.