December '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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66 || P R I N T W E A R D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 bing screens with brushes or blasting water from one side with a handheld sprayer. The water/emulsion mixture is sent down a separate drain as gray- water. Ideally, the system should have the ability to send emulsion straight to a graywater drain. Emulsion directed to a holding tank quickly turns into a sludge that can be tough and time-con- suming to remove. When considering a system that directs emulsion to a hold- ing tank, the cost of the tank- cleaning procedure should be factored in to the overall costs and productivity of the screen- cleaning operation. 5. Air blowers remove water from the screens before they're moved out of the cleaning chamber and treated with a chemical degreas- er. The entire process typically takes less than five minutes, en- abling a single operator to clean approximately 180 screens per eight-hour shift. THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN AUTOMATED SCREEN- CLEANING SYSTEMS The screen-cleaning system needs to do a thorough job of reclaiming screens. If it can't remove ink, emul- sion, haze, stains, ghosting, and grease quickly and completely, you might as well stick with the manual approach. At the same time, the machine needs to be gentle on screen mesh. To maintain efficiency and prolong chem- istry life, it's beneficial to have a machine that features a programmable system for in- jecting a user-set dose of the solvent to keep the cleaning solution at optimal strength. The user can program dosing based on the number of screens that have been washed or the number of days that have elapsed. In more sophisticated systems, this data is au- tomatically tracked. One of the underappreciated advantages of automated screen cleaning is the reduced chance of distorting mesh, not to mention the likelihood of blowing out screens en- tirely. The high-pressure emulsion-removal cycle needs sets of nozzles that are directly opposite and which spray water at equal pressure and volume. The machine should also be easy to op- erate and simple to maintain. Ideally, the operator interface should include the abil- ity to adjust settings like time, pressure, and volume into individually-named programs that can be recalled for the cleaning of simi- lar mesh/ink combinations without opera- tors having to refer to cheat sheets or change settings from memory. If automatic settings aren't available, diligent notetaking is nec- cessary. Since not all cleaning agents are cre- ated equal, the manufacturer should be prepared to recommend specific chemi- cal cleaners and chemical-to-water ratios AUTOMATIC SCREEN-CLEANING EQUIPMENT This particular system uses a frame for processing two screens at once to help speed up the process.

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