Automatic Textile Presses The Hidden Costs
Automatic textile presses require more company resources than meets the eye. Too often owners look past the cost of the press payments and focus only on the potential profits of increased production capacity. When profit margins are analyzed down-line it is shocking how slim margins can be, especially with market pricing so low for volume printing. Lets look at some ‘blind spots’ that owners never see, but workers struggle with on a daily basis. Some questions first:
- Do you own your automatic press or lease it? If you lease your equipment the payment is made before you can begin to pay for anything else. If you own your equipment, production print prices can be more competitive or you can absorb the costs of doing business a little better than someone struggling with a lease payment.
- How many people does it take to keep an automatic press running all day? It is far more than 3 people as we will see shortly. Operating the press non-stop requires support departments to be in tune with the automatic press production cycle.
- How large is your shop? Is it large enough to ‘feed’ your automatics? Automatic presses eat orders quickly, as in pallets of shirts per day. We’ll look at material handling needs to support your autos in a minute.
- How strong is your plant management? Owning a press is just the beginning. Maintaining the production environment can spell successes or disaster depending on how well you support your equipment.
- What are the blind spots costing you money on an automatic press while it is printing? Your screens play an even greater role in keeping your press working. While companies buy top of the line presses they often overlook this point when making screens for it.
First lets look at leasing vs. ownership of automatic equipment.
If you are capable of running two to three shifts per day at your plant the lease cost is minor and the payment only affects a small percentage of your bottom line. However if you run a single shift or you print for part of the day due to lack of work, your lease payment can be quite costly to your bottom line. If you do only contract work and run one shift you need low cost building payments or low labor costs.
How many people does it take to keep an automatic press running all day? When you see that gleaming print monster at the trade show all you hear is how many pieces per hour it will print, how good the registration is and about all the money you can make. Sounds good until you unpack it, set it up, and get your first job printing. If it is your first automatic it will stand still more often than not as you rush to get screens ready, inks mixed, and register your first job only to find out the print sequence didn’t work and do it all over again!
- To run a job at full production speed: you’ll need workers to load the shirts and unload them, as well as a catcher at the end of the oven to lay them flat to prevent wrinkles. Little thought is given to the next job on press that needs screens shot and prepped by a screen room worker, another to mix inks, another to pull shirts, workers to fold and bag if needed, shipping personnel to get it out of the warehouse on time and receive new orders, bookkeepers and office personnel to keep track of billings and payroll. Not to mention art personnel to design and separate the art, as well as a coordinator to marry art and samples to document all details of a print run so it can be reprinted as well. Lacking in any of the areas above can create downtime on press. If you are new to the automatic press production world then the hard lesson is:You need to keep the presses running non-stop, all day, everyday to pay for this workforce before the company makes any money.
Fast Exposing Emulsions for Textile Printing:
- Aquasol HV, Aquasol HVP and Aquasol TS – Are excellent choices for Plastisol, Waterbase and Discharge Printing.
- Photocure BLU and Photocure TXR – Expose well on lower wattage exposure units. Excellent for Plastisol and shorter waterbase and discharge print runs.
Shelf Life: SBQ Pure Photopolymers can also help out smaller shops who may not need exposure speed but just need longer shelf life. SBQ pure photopolymer emulsion without diazo added for water resistance, can last up to a year while any emulsion with diazo is only good for 4-6 weeks at maximum performance levels. The need for price and performance: Let’s face it, our industry has become very cost competitive. If your screen room can produce the screen volume needed for production while using a slower exposing emulsion, then a dual cure or pure diazo emulsion may help you control costs and still provide stencil performance that only Murakami can deliver.
- Pure Diazo Emulsion SP-1400 has a great price point and great performance as well. While it exposes a little slower than pure photopolymers it’s press performance is better than the competition. Excellent for plastisol as is, or for waterbase and discharge when hardened with MS Hardener from Murakami.
- Dual Cure Emulsion Photocure PRO is one of our best emulsions for resolving fine details and halftones. Exposure speed is about halfway between pure diazo and pure photopolymer emulsions. Capable of printing stunning simulated process and water base and discharge inks when hardened with MS Hardener.
- Photocure PRO Heavy is a higher viscosity emulsion with excellent resolution and yields a thicker emulsion stencil that can be advantageous when printing discharge and the new Virus brand inks that are pthalate and PVC free