Top Mistakes Every Shop Makes

While it's true that a certain amount of waste is inevitable, there are some common mistakes every shop makes.

Mistakes in the screen printing business can cost you time, money, and resources. While it’s true that a certain amount of waste is inevitable, there are some common mistakes every shop makes.

1. Not updating your equipment as your business grows

Screen printing equipment can be one of the most substantial costs in running your business. While quality machines will run for decades with regular maintenance, sticking with your old equipment and not updating as your business grows can cost you time, money, and customers when it’s all said and done. While it might mean an up-front investment, updating and upgrading machinery can increase your production, as well as offer a larger selection of products to your customers.

2. Improper curing

Cracks in a printed image after it’s washed are caused by improper curing. Some issues that typically lead to improper curing may include your dryer belt speed running too fast, as well as inconsistent temperature. These issues will be compounded when dealing with water-based inks as they typically require a higher temperature and longer dwell time. Most plastisol manufacturers recommend a curing temperature of 320 degrees F for approximately 60 seconds.

3. Using the same screen mesh for all jobs

Too many novice printers end up with only 110- and 125-mesh screens, which do indeed work great for your everyday spot color printing. However, any halftones or high-end, photorealistic printing will require a higher mesh. You need a wide variety of mesh if you want to output better quality work. Make sure you know which screens are best for which jobs. You’ll get superior prints and waste much less ink, all of which protects your bottom line.

4. Not proofreading your artwork

Typos and misspelled words are sometimes so subtle that they’re easy to miss if you’re not careful. Proofreading can help make sure your graphics, from fonts to colors, are spot on before you start printing. Make sure to double-check each piece of artwork before it makes it to the press. Also, after you proof your art, it helps to have a second set of fresh eyes comb over it one last time before you greenlight it. It’s a lot easier to correct a mistake on your graphic than it is to fix a 300-piece press run. The more eyes that are proofing the artwork, the less likely you are to have an artwork mishap go to press.

5. Not reclaiming and using proper chemicals

A quality stencil begins after the last print job is finished, and that means proper reclaim steps are necessary. Taking shortcuts with your reclaim can reduce screen life, cause pinholes, and generally decrease your shop efficiency. Keep the proper chemicals on hand and use them as directed. In addition, make use of tools like color change (screen wash) chemicals and screen openers as they can greatly increase your efficiency with regards to downtime. Consider options such as dip tanks to further decrease reclaim times.

While it’s unrealistic to expect zero waste, you can certainly minimize it. Maximize your profits by working to avoid these common mistakes that can rob your bottom line and keep your business from reaching its full potential.

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