The multi-level, individually rotatable screens-over-platens double-stacked carousel press is a clear departure from previous printing press forms. This familiar stacked carousel press was designed to overcome the unique problems of screen printing multiple colors onto cloth and provide easy printer/operator access.
However, the first problem is the substrate or cloth/garments. Printing on assembled clothing is the main aim of the double carousel press. Cloth, unlike other substrates, needs to be tacked down or stretched tightly onto a ridged surface, the platen, when placed into a repeatable position. Using adhesive is the most common way to allow the “snap off” of the screen mesh and keep the cloth in its original print position. Without some way to hold and keep the fabric in a place that can be repeated exactly, the wet ink will cause the cloth to pick up and move, misaligning any following colors.
The extensive construction with extended arms holding each platen and corresponding interlocking arms holding the screens are all based on the need to keep the cloth stretched or glued in position on each fixed platen.
Rotating platen and screens into position, then interlocking accurately, and then resetting into the exact location for each print is the simplistic genius of this rotating multi-platen, multi-color carousel. This efficient solution to a specific challenge is the reason the carousel printing press has remained the backbone of screen-printed garment decoration. Generating a profit is a direct result of the ability to print multiple shirts with multiple colors easily and conveniently for even a single operator.
For more on the basics, check out Doug Grigar’s article in the January issue of Printwear.