Side clamps are a great upgrade if you are aiming for greater consistency in off-contact or you just want more flexibility while printing. Let’s look at the advantages of upgrading to side clamps and when you should make the investment.
WHY WOULD I WANT SIDE CLAMPS?
Side clamps help to further stabilize the arm and screen flex you get when pulling a squeegee, which forces the screen into contact with the platen. The side clamps help to stabilize the screen and keep it from dipping forward as much.
Using only back clamps means that the screen dips toward the front of the platen to a greater or lesser degree when you pull a squeegee. This is because the only stability point for keeping the screen in a straight line is a clamp at the far back.
When you have these two side clamps, in comparison to just the one with back clamp, off-contact is more consistent from the front of the screen to the back. The side clamps help to stabilize the screen and keep it from dipping forward as much.
With more consistent front-to-back off-contact, the screen will snap off the platen quicker, which means you can create a higher quality print.
As a result, side clamps can enhance the print detail you want past what you can get on a regular back clamp. They create more precision for a manual press.
Note: Side clamp upgrades are only available for the Riley Hopkins 300 & 350 press.
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A PRINTER’S STORY ABOUT UPGRADING TO SIDE CLAMPS
Lee Stuart, screen printing YouTuber and owner of Rogue Lab MFG, upgraded his Riley 300 with side clamps. Lee hails from pro motorcycle racing and mechanics, and precision engineering is vital to everything he does. He needed his detailed prints to be 100% accurate, and wouldn’t stand for anything less than perfection. Queue side clamps.
Assembling the side clamps was super easy for Lee. The first step was to switch out the off-contact brackets from his current press to the ones compatible with the side clamps. Then, he simply attaches the side clamps to the print head. It’s that easy.
To level out the side clamps before printing, Lee uses one of his aluminum platens. These platens are perfectly straight, and help him level out the side clamps before he gets into production.
With the addition of side clamps, Lee’s screens don’t flex nearly as much as they used to. He can print detailed jobs with precision.
“This is one of those little pieces to the puzzle that’s going to elevate my print game a little bit more,” Lee said in his video about upgrading his press. “That’s really what it’s all about for me.”
EXTRA BENEFITS OF SIDE CLAMPS
One great benefit of side clamps is the ability to slide the screen forward. You can stack designs, like names for example, on the screen to print for different garments. Instead of having to burn a bunch of screens, you can burn one screen with multiple designs and just slide the screen forward to the next design.
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Depending on the screen size, you can still slide it left or right on a linear path.
You’ll also have better stability with standard auto frames. The longer the screen, the more flex it has. Side clamps help to stabilize the flex of the frame. Auto frames will benefit from side clamps.
Side clamps give your screens greater stability for a better overall print. They are a great addition to shops looking for excellent precision and quality.