6 Important Things To Consider When Buying Your First Manual Press
There are a few different kinds of screen printing presses you can choose from, but most individuals and smaller businesses start with a manual press. Driven by man-power, manual screen printing presses allow you to have hands-on control over your ink, squeegee pressure and other elements of your printing. They are some of the most cost-effective screen printing machines and come in configurations ranging from a single color, single platen (shirt), to 12+ colors and platens.
So how do you pick the right one?
Aside from overhead (depending on your business model), the most expensive part of running a screen printing business is the cost of labor. Inefficient and hard to use screen printing equipment slows you down, exhausts you quickly, and is prone to mistakes that hurt your bottom line…and your moral. So, when you think about buying your first manual press, you have to consider that there’s much more to picking the right screen printing press than just the price. Consider the efficiency, durability, and versatility of the equipment you are buying. Good screen printing equipment pays for itself. If you buy for tomorrow and not for today, you’ll not only have a better product, but you’ll be setting up your operation up for long term success.
When thinking about buying your first manual press here are six important things to consider:
One of the downfalls to the manual press is that they are human-operated, and people are not nearly as consistent as automatic machines. As a result, if you’re buying your first manual press with the future in mind, make sure that your press has a proven micro registration system, consistent gate/print head registration, and parts that can easily be replaced or don’t wear over time. That’s an investment that will quickly pay itself back.
The Riley Hopkins press has three premium constructed micro registration options, ranging from xy micros, joystick registration, and a master combo of both called maximo registration for the ultimate registration control.
In 10 years of selling thousands of presses, we have never once had someone come back and tell us that they wish they hadn’t gotten a press that could print so many colors. However, multiple times a week, we hear printers talk about how they wish they had a six color instead of a four color, or an eight color press instead of a six color. So, when you go to buy your first manual press, make sure that you are thinking about how many colors you will want to be able to print tomorrow. Future you will be grateful.
3. Portability and Space:
As your business grows you will inevitably need a bigger press to run larger shirt orders and take in more customers. So your first manual press should be one that is small but well-built. This will allow you to keep it as a supplemental small-run press when you expand, and possibly even travel for live-printing events. There’s nothing like seeing the process of printing live; it’s a great way to engage and market what you do.
One of the most popular presses that we sell is the Riley 250, a table top press that’s just as durable and high quality as our floor model, with a portability that’s unmatched. Many of the successful print shops we know use this press as their secondary or mobile press after they upgrade to a larger model manual Riley Hopkins.
4. Screen Size Options:
You may only be printing with smaller wooden screens at first, but you should get a press that can hold larger screen sizes for the future. Allow yourself the versatility to expand your print size. If you think you’re going to expand fast, consider this: most automatic presses take 23″x31” screens vs. 20″x24” screens, so if your manual press can only take 20″x24” screens, you’ll be stuck with two different sets of screens for two different presses once you add your first automatic.
Depending on the model, many of our Riley Hopkins presses are built to hold screens up to 23″x31″ and can be used interchangeably for smaller wooden screens and automatic sized frames alike.
5. Platen/Pallet Compatibility:
Make sure that whatever manual press you start with will be compatible with your future press purchases. If the same kind of pallets and accessories can fit on each press, then you won’t have to worry about buying those again when you expand your press options.
The Riley Hopkins press has configurations ranging from one color presses all the way up to eight color, eight station screen printing machines. All of which have the same platen compatibility across the board.
Get a press that has been proven to last a lifetime. Quality equipment and a solid warranty go a long way. Ask yourself, is the equipment sturdy, and has it been proven to stand the test of time?
All of our Riley Hopkins presses come with a limited lifetime warranty and the best guarantee in the industry. If you’re looking for a press that does it all, we reccomend checking out the Riley Hopkins press for your first manual screen printing press.
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