One Screen Printer’s Answer: When Should I Automate?
A common question that we hear from manual screen printers is always “ When should I automate?” In fact, it’s such a commonly heard question that TJ and our education crew created a special course just to help manual screen printers learn the ins and outs of running an automated screen printing shop. From how to operate an automatic press, to how to organize the space for efficient production flow and which team members you will need to run an automatic shop.
Since Brett Bowden, “El Capitan” of Printed Threads, is hosting the next Screen Print Experience Automated Class in Keller TX I thought it might be a great chance to share some information about his own personal automation journey.
This is what he had to say:
What kind of press did you use to start screen printing?
“My first press was a Microperfect Rebel. I loved that press. I think it was a four color, four station that I purchased in 2000. Does anyone still have one of those? I will buy it. It was a small company out near Palm Springs, CA. They probably went out of business a while ago, but I wish I could go thank the maker for being a part of starting my career.”
What helped you to answer the question “When should I automate?”
“I remember talking to a close friend of mine when I was considering purchasing an automatic press. He told me that if I had steady business printing on a manual press, more business would come to me when I had more capacity. That statement was true. Purchasing an auto really opened the floodgates for us. “
What would you have changed about stepping into your first press and automating your shop?
“Have you heard the statement “Buy nice or buy twice?” I got a pretty decent press, but six months later I was already out shopping for an upgrade. There are a lot of options that come with a press, just like there are a lot for a car. You don’t really care about having power windows until you are talking on the phone at a drive-thru window. Much is the same with a press. You think 40 dozen prints an hour is fast until you have 10,000 shirts to print. If I were to start over, I would have purchased a servo drive press with A/C heads right out of the gate for sure. The ROQ YOU is an ace in the hole compared to my first press. There’s not really a reason to upgrade that. “
Any advice you’d give to someone who is interested in getting their first auto, or thinking about upgrading a smaller one?
“Get the best press that you can afford. Buying a press with air drive or air heads will really put you at a disadvantage. Remember that if you want to have great prints, you need great tools. Look at things like the ergonomics (i.e. how easy is the press to use, how easy do screens and squeegees go in and out). Look at the pallets and know if they are level or if you have to adjust them on a regular basis. Also, check out safety features. If you accidentally step into the press when it is moving, will it kill you?”
What would you say to those who might not be sure about ROQ Automatic Screen Printing Machines quite yet?
“If you don’t like green, let it grow on you.”
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