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An Overview of Automatic Garment Presses

(June 2011) posted on Tue May 24, 2011

Use this guide to automatic garment presses to find out about important features and functions and learn about some of the models on the market.


By Ben P. Rosenfield

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Automatic garment presses are designed to deliver print-production speed and accuracy, access to more colors and effects, and higher levels of consistency and output quality. Many models are available to accommodate new shops or facilities without much floor space to spare, growing businesses that need greater capacity than manual presses can offer, and large-scale operations that print garments in the millions. Before we look at a cross-section of what’s on the market, let’s review some of the basics you’ll need to consider when shopping for an automatic garment press.

Configurations
The carousel configuration is the most common type of automatic garment press and is the focus of this article. Its operation is similar to that of the manual press—that is, it indexes in a circular pattern. Oval presses are still available, though the number of domestic manufacturers that offer this type of machine has decreased significantly over the years. As its name implies, the oval press is longer than it is wide. It typically is modular in design and indexes shirts along a track on the perimeter of the press.

Carousel presses require unobstructed areas that are larger than their total circumference, otherwise known as footprint, to give operators access to all print stations and press controls. Shop floors that are peppered with ceiling-support pillars or other structural components can limit the maximum allowable press size. An oval press may be a good solution in places where broad, open areas are unavailable.

Colors and stations
Automatic garment presses are available with as few as four colors/six stations to more than 18 colors/20 stations. Auto-matics typically feature two more stations than colors to provide for garment loading and unloading. Some configurations are designed specially for single-operator use and are equipped with only one extra station dedicated to loading and unloading. Be sure to take into account the flash-curing positions you’ll need—as well as positions dedicated to underbases, specialty inks, and more—when deciding how many stations you want.

Drive systems and press movement
Pneumatic, electromechanical, and servomechanical drives are the most common types used in the operation of automatic garment presses. Some machines use one type of drive; others combine them. Pneumatic systems use pressurized air to index printing platens and/or to power squeegee/floodbar assemblies. Electronic valves control speed and distance of motion. Presses with strictly pneumatic drive systems are often less expensive than models that use electromechanical or servomechanical drives.


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