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The Case for Printing Samples on Automatics

(July 2008) posted on Tue Jul 08, 2008

Setting up an automatic press to print samples may seem like a waste of time and money, but Davis explains how the benefits of doing so can far outweigh the costs.

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By Rick Davis

Some buyers fear that you won’t be able to reproduce the exact print they are hoping for. That’s why you’ll eventually find yourself in a situation where a customer will want to visually approve a sample prior to printing. This practice is more prevalent in larger, mass-production printing programs, but clients in the custom-printing market, which includes job runs small enough for a single sports team, also may wish to conduct a pre-production inspection.

In most cases, a customer’s problem stems from a concern over the variations possible in the printing process you use—no matter how subtle. In this installment, I will explain why an automatic press is a fine tool for creating pre-production samples and how you can justify the time and expense of employing an automatic instead of the manual press you might be more inclined to use.


Manual vs. automatic

Samples created for pre-production approval are typically printed by hand for one basic reason: it’s not cost efficient to tie up a $100,000 production press for two hours in order to print 12 garments. The justification here is basic and understandable until we start to look at the variations that come into play in the printing of that approval sample on a manual press. The primary objective is to produce an exact replica of the garments that you’ll ultimately print in production and do so in a manner that is cost efficient and indistinguishable from a production garment—at least to the customer’s satisfaction.

Printing the same design onto two garments on the same press can be a difficult task on its own. Putting that same job on a manual and an automatic press introduces a number of variables that will inevitably lead to dissimilar results. Many production runs fall to their knees on automatic presses when someone discovers that the prints don’t match the sample produced on a manual press for client approval.


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