The New Broom Sweeps Clean

Though I have much to be thankful for in 2010, I’m not sad to see the old year pass.

2010 represented a tough year for many screen printers. Clients, business models, and profit margins changed. But now the winter solstice has passed, when long nights give way to lengthening days and the rebirth of the sun gives new energy. After the New Year celebrations calm down, lots of printers take an assessment of where they stand as far as equipment, organization, and new business development for the next cycle. Forecasters predict a better year ahead in 2011, and we need to plan for success.

The February/March issue of Screen Printing contains lots of ideas for basic organization and preparation, so let us help you with the renewal process. Rick Fuqua, president of Real Performance Machinery, covers the methods for taking care of your presses, just as you’d take care of your car by keeping records of service; keeping track of wear points and how to oil/grease/tighten them; having supplies of critical parts on hand; protecting your presses from contaminants; examining air-delivery systems; inspecting electrical systems; and so forth. Rick’s practical advice can save lots of stressful downtime and prevent costly replacements.

Not only do your printing presses need maintenance, but it’s also time to examine how you clean screens. Do you still use volatile chemicals when you clean and reclaim screens, or have you moved on to a greener type cleaning material? In his article, The Screen Cleaning Boxing Ring, Jason Davenport writes about how to use eco-friendly materials and control costs throughout reclamation. It features how-to advice for using emulsion removers and dehazers that are designed to be environmentally safe.

After you have set up a system of equipment maintenance and considered using ecological green cleaners for screens, next it’s time to read at Mike Plier’s article, Developments in UV Inks. It looks at the latest formulations and their usefulness for expanding into new markets.

Last October, I asked printer Ben Reutter of Transfer Express what he expected for screen printers in 2011. “I expect more screen printers to be using computer-to-screen (CTS) units and more automated screen exposure and cleaning. In terms of inks, I think we’re seeing more specialty inks and ink manufacturers producing much better specialty inks than they did three to five years ago. And, of course, I think more environmentally friendly inks. Most screen-printing inks are already lead- and phthalate-compliant, but I expect that to be the norm in the near future and for even more environmentally friendly inks to become available.” Our articles certainly agree with Ben’s take on the industry.

Before I fade into sounding like a cheerleader for this February/March issue, there’s a program that long-time columnist Mark Coudray started, called Marketing for T-Shirts (, that you might want to look at. It’s a series of videos that talk about screen printers using techniques for building new business through developing a niche, creating informational presentations, and more.

Though I have much to be thankful for in 2010, I’m not sad to see the old year pass. And yes, I’m doing all the usual renewal activities, such as reviewing the latest in smart-phone applications and preparing forms for the tax man. Going further, I’ve signed up for a few classes to fill in a few educational needs. And at Screen Printing magazine, we’re editing articles and finding interesting angles for the latest topic coverage. The invigorating wintery weather pushes plans for a very productive 2011.

View more from this Screen Printing issue