Making the move from a manual to automatic garment press can be a daunting task. Davis draws from his own experiences to ease the transition when the time comes for your shop to upgrade.
By Rick Davis
The next step in the planning phase is to look at the space available in your facility and the effect that the acquisition of the additional equipment will have on your floor space. Most garment screen printers who use manual equipment lack an abundance of available space and thus may be forced to relocate to a larger facility to meet the square-footage requirements of the new equipment. By now, you should see the huge financial responsibility you’re taking on with the decision to automate. But don’t worry, it gets worse.
Printers who have a few years in the garment-printing industry typically have an idea of what presses they like. Those who don’t should ask the opinions of other printers who have already made the conversion to an automatic. They also should attend trade shows whenever possible to see their potential investments in action. Additionally, it’s important to research the track record of each manufacturer for quality, performance, and service.
Press size is the next decision you’ll make. The types of garment graphics you print and the numbers of colors you require should guide you to an effective choice. Printers who are heavily involved with photographic or simulated-photo reproduction need to shop for a 10- to 14-color press. If your primary client base is sports or promotional and recreational apparel, you may get by with a smaller press that supports fewer colors. The primary impact the number of colors will have is on the diameter of the press and the square footage of floor space it will take up in your facility. More colors also mean a greater financial impact.
After researching, I determined that a six-color automatic was more than sufficient for my needs. My client base is primarily based on schools and sports teams. I may have as few as three six-color jobs a year. But as my client base and graphics needs grow, my next press will most likely be in the range of 10 to 14 colors.
Another aspect to consider when selecting an automatic is the features that come along with a particular model. The objective of purchasing an automatic is to increase your productivity and profitability and achieving that goal with as few issues as possible.
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