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The Limitations Of A Manual Press (And How To Combat Them)

Screen printing is an attractive business to start. For under ten grand you can get an entire manual shop with a six color, four station Riley Hopkins press, conveyor dryer, and everything else you need to start producing shirts. That’s a comparatively low investment; especially since you can start operating out of your own house! Using a manual press, you can print between 400-800 shirts a day, and when you’re running a shop on your property or out of a low-cost leased space, a single business owner/press operator or husband and wife team can earn a good living manually printing shirts. As long as they can keep their press full.

Sounds amazing right? It is! That’s the power of screen printing.

Manual screen printing is an artistic and respected craft that has produced billions of t-shirts and created success and wealth for many in the screen printing market, HOWEVER there are some limitations.

Here are some of the limitations of the manual press model, and how to combat them:

1. More work = More Manhours = More Overhead

In order to stay profitable as a manual printer, you can’t easily take on jobs that profit less than $1 per garment. Sure there are many jobs out there that make much more per garment, but the trick is keeping your press filled up with them. Many owner/operators have to resort to aggressive marketing to drum up more business to make that happen, and, while this creates more business, it also means that they have to hire a printer. Which decreases production, quality, and profitability, as it increases overhead.

2. Manual Printers Aren’t Perfect

Let’s face it; muscles get tired. Bodies get beat up. And sometimes your going to have a bad that that ends up affecting the quality of your prints. That’s part of being a human and not machine, but as a result, it’s hard to find manual printers that can effectively print the with the same quality and consistency again and again. While this may not be an issue when you are printing for your local soccer team, it does limit your ability to print for high volume or high-end retail markets who demand a consistent or a quality product.

Automating the printing process can solve these bottlenecks early in a business’s life cycle. The average “new” automated press can produce 2-3x the number of garments as a manual press with one operator, and can double that with 2-3 operators! Compared to the cost of hiring a full-time printer, a monthly payment on an entry level automated press is approximately 50-70% of the overhead of an employee.

With an automatic press, the owner/operator who is printing six hours a day but has to hit the street to keep work coming in, can now print for only three hours a day and have an extra three hours to sell. Also, because the garments are printed much faster, the cost to print each garment goes down drastically which can enable the shop to take on higher volume/lower margin work.

Interested in learning more about how an automatic press might open your business up to more profit and more success? Fill out this form to get in contact with one of our sales representatives.

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