Purchasing tips from the pros with up-to-date specs on 50 models.
An automatic press is one of the biggest investments a garment printing business can make. And which one you choose can either make or break your return by expanding your capabilities or creating a host of headaches. With an array of manufacturers and emerging technologies, you have a lot to think about. But whether you’re a first-time buyer or adding to a fleet of automatics, factoring some basic considerations into your selection can go a long way toward making it a good one.
Know your options
As with making any capital investment, the starting point in shopping for an automatic press is identifying your needs and goals and determining your budget. “You have to consider your market and the type of work it calls for—the number of colors, job complexity, print size, run lengths, etc.,” says Marshall Atkinson, COO, Visual Impressions. “Then you have to consider the physical limitations of your shop. You may need 10 colors, but you have to consider the footprint of the machine as well as its capabilities.
“You also should give some thought to why you are buying the press. Is it just to fill a current need and address an existing issue, or are you thinking ahead toward expanding into new markets? It gets back to your goals and business plan.”
Budget is the other key initial consideration, say veteran buyers. “You have to determine which presses fall within your price range before it makes any sense to compare them in terms of features and specifications,” says Lon Winters, president of GraphicElephants.
It’s also important to keep in mind that budgeting for an automatic means looking beyond the cost of the press itself, note those who’ve been there. “When you automate, it requires raising the level of all of the support elements of your business as well,” notes Mark Coudray, owner, Coudray Graphic Technologies. “Your screenmaking, art department, and film production all have to increase as well because you’ve got a monster to feed. And if you can’t turn out screens quickly, then the press is going to sit there a significant amount of time.” If you already have an automatic, adding a second machine will cause a similar increase in the need for support services.
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