Thinking of upgrading your screen- preparation capabilities by adding automatic screen-cleaning and reclaiming equipment? This discussion will help you make some important decisions as you adopt the technology and update your workflow to support it.
When is the right time to upgrade to an automatic screen-cleaning and reclaiming system? Is it when the frames you use get so big that your whole prepress department has to join in lifting and carrying them? What about when you have so many screens that you have a path from your presses to your screen room that looks like the yellow brick road?
“If you have very large frames, maybe 20 a day, you might have a need for an automatic unit,” Ericsson says. “In medium sizes, if you’re doing 35-40 frames a day, you should look into automation.”
Williamson explains that automated systems can move frames along at speeds from a foot to three feet per minute, thereby enabling a shop that specializes in grand-format graphics to process oversized screens in a matter of a couple of hours. He says garment shops have different requirements and that 250-300 screens per day is a good time to start checking out conveyorized automatics. Garment screen printers who process that many screens typically use magazines or gang screens in master frames to increase the number of screens that can be processed in each machine cycle. “A lot of people who have conveyorized units for garment screens are washing anywhere from 400-600 or 700 screens per shift,” he notes.
Most manufacturers build automatic screen-cleaning and reclaiming systems according to customer specifi-cations. How big should you go? Consider the machine’s footprint, given the sizes and quantities of frames with which you work, in relation to the shop space you have available. Don’t forget that you need plenty of room at the loading area to present the screens—or magazines, cartridges, and master frames, as shown in Figures 3a and 3b—to the cleaning and reclaiming system, as well as ample space to unload them at the other end.
Tips for first-time buyers
“Go see the systems operating,” Weidenhamer advises. “And don’t go to one that’s only been around a couple months. Go see one that’s been around for a while. Then you get a true feeling of what’s involved. And remember that nothing is maintenance free—equip-ment is equipment. The type of system you choose should fit the screen throughput you need, and be sure to pay attention to operating costs. Solvents can get really expensive over time.”
Do you believe that if a little is good, then a lot must be great? If so, Williamson urges you to slow down and consider what’s involved with your first investment in automatic screen-cleaning and reclaiming technology. “You want a machine that’s not overcomplicated, and you want to be sure that parts are readily available,” he says. “The machine has to really suit your operation. Some people get a one-machine-fits-all, but that doesn’t work for everybody. And I don’t know that you need to buy the most machine you can afford.”
As you can see, automatic screen-cleaning and reclaiming systems might not be for everyone. But should the need arise—whether you specialize in garments, graphics, or industrial applications—these automated machines can streamline a critical part of your production flow, improve environmental conditions for workers, minimize waste, and help ensure that every screen is in top shape before it moves on to press.
Automatic Screen-Cleaning/Reclaiming Systems
A.W.T. World Trade, Inc.
4321 N. Knox Ave.
Chicago, IL 60641
Chemical Consultants, Inc.
1850 Wild Turkey Cir.
Corona, CA 92880
2101 Clifton Ave.
Saint Louis, MO 63139
Distributed by Sefar Printing Solutions Inc.
120 Mt. Holly By-Pass
PO Box 679
Lumberton, NJ 08048
Hydro Engineering Inc.
865 W. 2600 S.
Salt Lake City, UT 84119
Interchange Equipment Inc.
90 Dayton Ave.
Passaic, NJ 07055
1219 W. 11th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015
4204 E. Lake St.
Minneapolis, MN 55406
Fax: 612-729-6647, 800-544-7022
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