One of the most overlooked aspects in the screen printing industry has to be the maintenance of your shop. From making sure your equipment is running top notch to having a clean work environment, it is a key part of any successful printing business.
We think that our list of useful maintenance tips for screen printing shops is one of the best ways to ensure that your productivity is always high. When you take care of screen printing equipment, you'll prolong its functionality and it will serve you well for years.
Squeegee Maintenance tips for screen printing shops...
We recommend getting into the habit of inspecting your squeegee regularly. For example, does it have a nick or a dull finish? If so, ink just won't transfer as smoothly and evenly as it should. If the interior of the screen gets wet due to residue from ink, it's safe to say that your current squeegee isn't getting the job done quite as it should!
There are actually quite a few variables which impact the performance of squeegees. For example, abrasion via the screen may cause a squeegee to become duller over time and decrease its capacity to shear ink from the screen. Also, you should know that chemical solvents are often harsh and that they will degrade a squeegee over time. Some inks do have solvent bases which are pretty harsh.
Replacing worn-out or damaged squeegees is important. In terms of regular maintenance at your screen printing shop, try not to use one side of a blade for more than four hours if you're utilizing an ink type which is "aggressive". Instead, make a point of rotating blades in order to prolong their effectiveness. Basically, a squeegee is like a tire on a car. So, as with tires, rotation is one of the keys to getting more life out of a squeegee. A squeegee should always be wiped clean and dry following its removal from the press and stored flat in a dry environment at room temperature.
When you get into the habit of inspecting your squeegees regularly and maintaining it as we've discussed here, you'll boost productivity and may save yourself some money, too. Proper maintenance makes almost everything last longer. While there will always be times when you need to replace a squeegee, doing the right things will mean that you will have to replace it less often.
Keep Things Clean...
Another maintenance tip that sounds simple, but is surprisingly overlooked is to keep your shop as clean as possible. Lint, debris, dirt, ink spills and fibers from t-shirts can wreak havoc if left for long periods of time and will affect your print quality. Clean up as you go along. Don't let dirt and grime accumulate. Take care of your supplies, keep a record of your inventory in a digital file and generally organize your inventory regularly. Maintaining your inventory is crucial, so make a point of keeping good records. Then, you'll know what you need to order and you'll never order more or less than is needed. The times when your shop are slow, are the perfect times for organizing things and doing maintenance on your equipment, but developing a daily routine is best practice.
Top 11 Maintenance tips:
James Perry reporting for American Screen Printing Association. Mr. Perry is the owner of T-Shirt Printing Toronto, a provider of screen printing, direct to garment printing, embroidery, vinyl printing, signs, banners & flyers. He is an ASPA member and has owned and operated a screen printing business for many years.