December '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 1 4 D EC E M B E R PRINTWEAR | 77 Buying a printer is like buying a car. Visit your dis- tributor's showroom if pos- sible and take a test drive. Do the mi- cros move smoothly? Does the press spin freely with minimum effort? Remember, if all goes well, you'll use it all day. Ask for references of other decorators who use this equipment. If possible, call them to get their opinion. As long as you're not in direct competition, most are willing to answer a few questions regarding the press they purchased. FLASH-CURE UNIT Along with the printer, you need a flash- cure unit. This equipment enables you to flash your underbase, so you can print on dark garments and specialty pieces. A flash- cure unit is an essential piece of equipment in your shop. These units operate at high temperatures to gel the ink before moving to another screen, especially on designs that cannot be printed wet-on-wet. Considering the high operating tem- perature, an automatic-style flash is a good option. This type of flash stays over the garment and moves away after a specified time to eliminate burned shirts and, even worse, burned platens on your press that would have to be replaced. In my expe- rience, I can almost guarantee that if you opt to not get an automatic flash, you will get distracted and burn shirts and platens. DRYERS After the printing is complete, the garment now needs to be cured or dried. Standard plastisol inks require 325 degrees F at spec- ified times for a proper cure. You can have the best artwork and nicest design, but if the ink washes off the first time your cus- tomer cleans the shirt, you won't be in busi- ness long. Proper curing is an important part of screen printing and should not be overlooked. For a startup business, I recommend an electric infrared conveyor drying sys- tem. These dryers convert infrared energy to heat to cure the printed garments. As with presses, many dryers are expandable in length, so the dryer can grow with your business. If you saved some money in other areas, look for a 36" belt width. This allows for a press on each side of the dryer as your business grows. And with all the different types of material printers are asked to decorate these days, good airflow is a must. This airflow helps eliminate scorching and shrinkage and solidly cures the decorated garment. OTHER EQUIPMENT There are also nonessential but helpful equipment and ancillary pieces for your new business, such as a homemade or purchased washout booth. Normal water and high-pressure water are used to clean screens. If you use the same booth to wash emulsion and ink from screens, keep it clean. If you make a homemade unit, add backlighting to view emulsion washout for proper detail. A pressure washer is a nice ad- dition to your washout booth for removing emulsion from screens. Another helpful piece of equipment is some type of heat temperature reader. This can either be temperature tapes, a heat gun, or a thermoprobe. The heat tapes are the least expensive of the three, but heat guns have dropped in price and are now avail- able at a variety of building supply stores and tool centers. Because curing is such an important factor to screen printing, it's es- sential to monitor the process daily and on different types of garments. I also recommend a spotting gun. This tool removes cured ink spots that always seem to magically appear on the finished garment, which usually comes from ink on fingers that touch the shirt. This spotting gun allows you to remove the ink without damaging the shirt. While the above is not an exhaustive list of necessary startup equipment, it gives you a good idea of the most important items to focus on when starting a screen printing business. pw MARKETPLACE DISPLAY ADVERTISING To advertise in The Marketplace, contact Diane Gilbert 800-669-0424, ext. 297

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