Why & How Riley Hopkins Screen Printing Presses are Locally Manufactured

Riley Hopkins presses have jumpstarted thousands of printers' careers. Considered top tier for manual screen printing equipment, a Riley Hopkins press is built to last. All presses are built on-demand in Vancouver, WA. But how do you build a press by hand? Is it really better? Production Manager Tim Alden walks through the process of constructing a Riley Hopkins press and shares the benefits of investing in hand-built presses.

A Riley Hopkins 300 Printing Press sitting in a shop with red, white, and blue lighting

WHY HANDMADE IS BETTER

A screen printing press built by hand is better than a mass-produced printing machine because there are many eyes and hands on every part of the press and through every step of the process. The manufacturing team knows what quality looks like. 

“It is important to stay within tolerance and maintain a consistent product through educating our team,” Tim said. 

By crafting each piece by hand, you can rest assured that you'll receive high-quality equipment that'll get the job done and last forever. 

"We want to control our quality," Chris Drury, Director of Manufacturing and Warehouse, said. 

According to Chris, a Riley Hopkins press is great to own because it won't need lots of maintenance (but if you do need to fix something, we’re here to help to make the process painless). When you buy a Riley Hopkins press, you're getting something more than the product.

"Once you buy a Riley Hopkins press, you're invited into the Ryonet family," Chris said. "You get the opportunity to partner with someone who actually cares if you grow."

RELATED: AMERICAN MADE, MADE TO LAST

FROM METAL TO A SCREEN PRINTING PRESS

Every press is built on demand. When a printer orders a Riley Hopkins press, a process begins. First, the team cuts the parts and gets them ready for processing.

The magic begins when workers load a plate of steel onto the laser bed. Cutting parts seamlessly with this tool ensures a perfect part and stays consistent from one batch to the next. The laser can cut up to ⅝” thick mild steel and up to ¼” aluminum. This piece of equipment, like all equipment, is important to keep in good condition. The team takes pride in caring for the equipment that keeps the warehouse running.

THE MACHINE SHOP

Once the parts have been cut, some of them need to be formed: legs, spring plates, rotary mounts, etc. For this, the team uses a 120 ton press break. It’s CNC (Computer Numerical Controlled) and can form steel, aluminum, and stainless steel like it’s a piece of paper. 

The machine shop houses five vertical CNC mills and one lathe. A CNC mill is a machine that uses a program to drill, tap threads, and shape materials like steel and aluminum to the specifications of the design. The team runs this machine for 10 hours a day so that screen printing press parts are constantly flowing to the welding and assembly teams.

A lathe is another shaping tool which rotates around an axis and removes unwanted material. All the smaller aluminum print head components come from the machine shop. One team member can run multiple machines at a time depending on the length of the programs. The assembly team can go through these parts quickly so it is very important that both teams are in alignment.

Now comes the fun part: welding. Most of the Riley Hopkins welding assemblies are tabbed and slotted for easy setup. The welding team can fit the assemblies together like a 3D puzzle. All presses are welded together in the same order, so everything’s consistent. The welder spreads the heat evenly to avoid warping, and checks to make sure everything is perfect before sending the part to get powder coated.

RELATED: WHICH SCREEN PRINTING PRESS IS RIGHT FOR ME?

A worker running a piece of steel through machinery

FINISHING TOUCHES

Once the press parts have come back from the powder coater and the machinists have filled the bins with parts, it’s time for assembly. Each Riley Hopkins press—the 150, 250, and 300—has its own assembly line. Within each assembly line are workstations that cater to the components being built. They’re equipped with the proper tools and hardware that keeps the team running smoothly. 

Once the press is assembled, it’s packaged and sent to the printer. This cycle of production is kept in motion day in and day out. All team members do their best to keep production flowing to make sure that we are keeping up with our promise to our customers.

The entire process can take up to 10 hours, depending on the press. Smaller presses, like the Riley 150, are built in batches of 10-20. This means the team can make about 30 Riley 150 presses in a day. Larger presses take longer: anywhere from 2-10 hours, depending on the configuration. The more print arms a press has, the longer it’ll take to create.

RELATED: AN INTERVIEW WITH RILEY HOPKINS

A Riley Hopkins printing press being assembled

In 12 years, the manufacturing team has grown from a small barn in Battle Ground, WA, to the large shop it is now. The team started with a saw, two drill presses, and a welder. The Vancouver manufacturing and assembly team is now 18 strong. By crafting each piece by hand, you can rest assured that you'll receive high-quality equipment that'll get the job done and last forever.

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