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Realities in Reclaiming

(June 2008) posted on Tue Jun 03, 2008

This final chapter in a series of columns on the screenmaking process concludes with tips on how to make screen reclaiming a smooth, efficient, and money-saving process.

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By Gordon Roberts

The final key ingredient to a successful reclaiming process involves our good friend, the pressure washer. If you bought your pressure washer on sale a few months ago at the home-improvement store, then you made the most common, and often the most damaging, mistake in the reclaim area. Use an industrial-strength pressure washer engineered to provide years of service eight hours a day, five days a week. The washers sold at hardware stores will hold pressure for perhaps a month, at the most. After a month, you might as well use a garden hose with your finger held over the nozzle. You don’t shop for presses in the discount aisles at Wal-Mart, nor should you buy your pressure washer there.

Ask your long-suffering rep to recommend a good washer. Then buy it. Not doing this is yet another false economy that will ultimately result in more mesh used and even more production time lost reshooting screens that don’t perform the way they should. Make sure that your maintenance staff has spare rubber seals and bearings on hand at all times. These parts will need to be replaced regularly to keep the pressure washer working properly.


Rethinking the reclaiming process

We’ve learned that the reclaiming process is not so easy after all. There are several other points I want to touch on, but they will have to wait for another column. I must, however, acknowledge the often-overlooked employees that are called upon to do the reclaiming job. Let’s face it, it’s not the most glamorous job in the print shop, but it is one of the most crucial jobs. If one of your employees does a great job in the washout booth, then take a moment to tell him or her how much you appreciate the job they perform. It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it, and it’s up to the rest of us to make sure that it’s possible for our employees to do it well.

Gordon Roberts has a history in screen-printing production management that spans more than 25 years. He has held supervisory positions in shops that represent a broad spectrum of application areas and markets, including printed electronics, apparel, signage, and retail graphics. Roberts has presented training courses on the basics of screen-printing production and on shop management for the Screentech Institute and is presently a consultant for the screen industry. He can be reached at




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