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.
Electromechanical drives typically have electric motors and analog controls that are used to index the press and/or power the printheads. AC and DC drive motors may be incorporated into the printheads for greater movement control.
Servomechanical drives are often regarded as the most precise in terms of accurate press movement. Digitally controlled servomotors provide continuous feedback to the press’s control system to ensure exact position. Automatic garment presses may be completely servo driven or equipped with a servo indexer and pneumatic or electromechanical printheads.
Press movement refers to the press’s actions after indexing. Some automatics raise the platen to the screen for the print stroke. These are referred to as platen-lift presses. Others lower the screen from a raised position before the print stroke. These are called screen-lift presses. Each has its supporters, so it’s best to see a variety of presses at work before making a selection.
Clamping, frame size, and image area
Most automatic presses are equipped with pneumatic frame clamps. They may grip the frames along one edge or multiple edges. Generally speaking, the more sides of a frame that are clamped, the greater the stability and registration accuracy of that frame during printing. Note that several manufacturers offer pin-registration systems designed to speed up screen alignment on press.
Frame size determines the frame format the press will accept. If the automatic press you like won’t support the frames you currently use, you’ll have to switch to new frames. Image area refers to the largest image size you’ll be able to print. Make sure the press you’re checking out will permit you to print garment graphics at acceptable sizes. Note that some press models feature optional attachments that allow you to switch between standard-sized prints and large-format or all-over prints.
Cycle speed is, perhaps, the greatest draw for automatic presses. The maximum cycle speed refers to the number of prints a press can produce with one or two operators in an hour. Some presses support the decoration of several hundred garments per hour; others can produce more than a thousand in that time. Realistically, actual cycle speed depends on how many colors you print, how many flash sequences are in the workflow, the types of inks you print, and other job-specific factors.
Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to the magazine.