Which entry-level flatbed printer is best for your business?

Nessan Cleary explores the wide choice of entry-level flatbed digital printers, with moving heads, high quality and varied prices.

Hybrids generally offer better flexibility when printing to roll-fed media, though many of the flatbeds offer an optional roll feeder so the choice largely depends on the sort of work that you think you’ll have to handle.

Prices vary hugely at this level, from €70,000 to €150,000, as does productivity. That said, few of these machines are really fast enough to compete on price against the bigger flatbeds so the ability to handle a wide range of different substrates is important.

via Which entry-level flatbed printer is best for your business?.

Screen Printing Exposure Units and Digital Screen Makers

Exposing eq&digital screen M_2

What are your options for the most important part of the screen printing process, creating the the screen itself.

  • This can be done the traditional way by coating the screen with emulsion, exposing the artwork and hardening the exposed emulsion. This does require a certain degree of skill but practise does make perfect.
  • The newer options are equipment such as Digital Screen Makers that creates the screen, an expensive piece of kit but worth it for the busy printer.
  • Lastly we can do it for you with our ‘Art to Screen’ service

Wicked Printing Stuff have a comprehensive screen creation range :-

  • exposure units
  • digital screen makers
  • accessories
  • kits

which are used for transferring your artwork onto your screen. Alternatively try our  ‘Art to Screen’ service where we do all the hard work for you.

We sell a range of ‘all in one’  self contained exposure units suitable for mid to large sized screen printing shops.  The Actinic and WPS Mini Exposure units ideal for educational and medium sized screen printing businesses (typical exposure times 120 – 180 seconds) and the heavy duty units ideal for busy print studios and larger screen printing businesses where large numbers of exposures required per day (typical exposure times 30 – 90 seconds)

 Digital Screen Makers, allowing you to transfer the artwork directly to the screen without the need for emulsion, exposure units, washout equipment and film positives.  Great for increasing productivity and screen turnaround times.

  • Goccopro 100 – Ideal for small printers requiring quick production of screens
  • QS200 – Ideal for professional screen printers with both manual and automatic presses – creates screens up to A2 in size. Click here to see our QS200 promotional video.

For beginners, smaller businesses and home printers we manufacture the Wicked Exposure Unit , very cost effective. Additional foam base sizes can be purchased as extras for other sized screens if you require.  Check out our screen printing tutorial (Step 4 –  7mins 10 seconds if you want to skip to the relevant section)  which shows how you use the Wicked Exposure Unit to transfer your artwork to the screen.

We have put together a number of screen exposing kits that include everything you need to get started at an affordable price.

I think we would all agree that creating a screen is the most complicated and frustrating part of the screen printing process. Getting the exposure right, choosing the right emulsion, drying properly, pin holes, under exposure there are so many areas where you can make an error and your screen is useless.

There are some great machines around that will take artwork from a computer and produce a screen but these are way too expensive for the hobbyist or small printer. So what do you do?

Use the Wicked Printing Stuff ‘art to screen’ exposure service. That is right you need never emulsion another screen. We do these all the time, designers send us their artwork and we send back the perfect screen so you can get printing straight away. So, whether you are new to printing, lack access to the equipment or simply don’t have the time, this service is ideal for you and means that you never have to turn down a job because of the complexity of exposing your screen.

The service can be used on newly purchased or previously used screens that need to be reclaimed and/ or restretched. Read the attached guide that gives you further details.

Do please look at all our blog posts on screen creation by using the tag ‘Creating a screen’

Tips for great Film Positives

A decent film positive is an essential part of achieving a great stencil as part of the exposure process.  A simple test is to hold your film positives up to the light … if the light can be seen through the artwork then the positive is not dark enough – we do not want the light getting through the artwork when exposing.

So some tips…

Double up on your film – print out 2 copies then cut the corners off one of the films, line them up and stick together with invisible tape. Make sure that the film positive is nice and tight against the screen when exposing especially if your exposure unit does not have a vacuum.

Use decent film positive paper, inkjet film is coated to ensure that ink completely adheres to the paper which in turn makes the artwork darker.

Get yourself an Epson – they seem to be the best at putting down more black than many other brands. The Epson 1500W is rather good – use the blacquer ink system which is designed purely for making film positives – it’s very cost effective and does the job.

Epson

If you are using a laser printer then buy an Epson 1500W (sorry showing a bit of a personal preference there) but seriously if you are using a laser then you can use a toner density spray which makes the artwork darker. The old technique was to paint oil (vegetable most popular or white spirit) over the artwork – but rather unpleasant!

Toner Density

Which dryer is suitable for my carousel and inks?

Which dryer is suitable for my business?

It you have an automatic carousel printing water based inks then a small dryer is obviously not suitable but which dryer is the right one. This chart will guide you.

At Wicked Printing Stuff  we manufacture our own Panther dryers and these can be standard models or very client specific. For example a dryer suitable for DTG (Direct to Garment) printing needs a much longer tunnel. Our prices are very competitive because you are buying direct, ask us for a quote and be surprised.

Choosing a dryer

You can watch our dryers being made in this fun video.

What is the difference between Yellow and White mesh?

What is the difference between Yellow and White mesh?

20140721_105635Generally speaking there is very little difference in the performance of the mesh unless you are using 90T upwards. Yellow mesh absorbs more light and stops light scattering, this helps expose those very fine lines and intricate details. We use Italian mesh yellow and white, they are great for fine halftones with high resolution and has the greatest possible exposure latitude with unsurpassed protection against light-undercutting.

via Wicked Printing Stuff, your home for screen printing equipment and supplies – FAQs.

How important is it to degrease the screen?

How important is it to degrease the screen?

wicked_pots

It is very important to degrease the screen prior to coating the screen with emulsion and exposing the artwork. A screen that is not degreased will have problems exposing and increase the chance of pinholes, the emulsion will not adhere to the screen properly and might washout before the image can be seen. The emulsion could also not wash out at all.

via Wicked Printing Stuff, your home for screen printing equipment and supplies – FAQs.

When should I use Yellow Screen Printing Mesh?

When should I use a yellow screen printing mesh?

 20140721_105635

When you are doing fine detail is the short answer. Generally speaking there is very little difference in the performance of the mesh unless you are using 90T upwards. Yellow mesh absorbs more light and stops light scattering, this helps expose those very fine lines and intricate details. We use Italian mesh yellow and white, they are great for fine halftones with high resolution and has the greatest possible exposure latitude with unsurpassed protection against light-undercutting.

 Mesh Yellow.

Getting the right mesh count is like getting the right squeegee and the right ink for the job in hand. These are ALL really important and make the difference to your finished product. Remember what you are trying to do is push the ink through the mesh on to the substrate. So the wrong mesh will result in too much or too little ink getting through. Not good. A very detailed design on a coarse mesh won’t work either.

 Check out our range of screens and mesh.

Heat Transfer Solutions

Heat transfer solutions

WPS 4000 Heat Transfer Press Product Ref: QR1283

What heat press should I buy?

A common question but the answer is rarely straight forward as there are many factors to consider.

What is a heat press.

A heat press is a machine engineered to imprint a design or graphic on a substrate, such as a t-shirt, with the application of heat and pressure for a preset period of time.

Where does it fit in the process.

1, Choose an image to put on a product like a t-shirt
2. Print onto heat transfer paper
3. Lay the image on your t shirt
4. Use a heat press to transfer the image on the t shirt.

Which heat press should you buy

What are you going to use it for?  Garments (T Shirts, Hoodies, Caps), promotional items (mouse maps, phone cases etc) , DTG preparation and curing, sublimation, Vinyl, Plastisol transfers etc   Heat Presses are involved in all of these process however there are a few areas to consider before parting with your money

So here are some of our views …
Accurate Heat – to get the best results a heat press needs to maintain accurate and consistent heat across the platen. Too little heat may not activate the adhesives to fully fix the graphic to the garment, too much heat can affect the graphic quality, reducing opacity or not giving an even cure.

Digital control – needed to ensure you have accurate temperature you don’t want fluctuating temperatures, you need accurate timings and therefore consistent results. Many digital controllers come with timers and safety features such as auto shutdown and alarms.

Even pressure – uneven pressure will lead to poor adhesion and inconsistent curing of ink therefore always choose a press which you can adjust and set for different thickness of substrates.   Some presses have pressure gauges which are ideal for ensuring consistent results.

Size of the Heat Press – there are many sizes to choose from and a key question to ask when buying a press is ‘What is the largest size of garment / substrate will I be using?’ It normally makes good sense to buy a press that can accommodate future needs.  It’s also easier to align garments on a larger press. Some presses come with interchangeable platens which gives you much more flexibility.

WPS 4500 Sport Heat Transfer Press Product Ref: QR1279

Clam or swing away?

  • A clam has a smaller footprint, when using a swing away you need to give space for the swing which on the bigger units can be quite significant
  • A clam is typically less expensive than a swing away and less moving parts
  • It is easier to see what is going on with a clam, if a garment has gone out of alignment you can do something about it
  • Clam presses are typically more portable
  • Swing aways different from a clam with the heating element lifting up parallel and swings completely out of the way.
  • It is often stated that with a clam press to increase the chances of burned knuckles with the clam however with a swing away it is just as easy to get the fingers in the way. Quality clam presses open wide enough to reduce the chance of accidents.
  • Swing aways are often more popular with DTG printers but you can also use a Clam
  • Swings aways typically can be set to give more pressure than a clam, we have found that some transfer papers don’t work well on clams
  • You can debate this but it really does come back to personal preference and budget.  The simple answer is choose the press that suits your needs.

Budget – always choose a press with a lifetime heater warranty, with CE certification (real Certification (beware some of the cheap China imports are not made with high quality components and may not be actually certified compared to European / US presses). It’s better to buy the right equipment first time out rather than the cheapest – quality equipment is designed to last years with warranty backup if there is a problem. You will often find broken low quality heat presses lurking in the back of many print shops.  If your business is reliant on the equipment then consider the impact of the heat press breaking.

If you have questions at all please contact us to discuss your requirements

What substrate can you print on?

It would be more fair to answer that with what substrate can’t you print on.

Did you know that the football for the world cup was screen printed?

We reckon we sell an ink that will print on almost anything, what is your challenging substrate?

We get lots of people who print onto skateboards / snowboards. You have met Rachel on the blog who prints on glass. Baby mats, swimming caps, lolly sticks, candles, estate agent boards… The list is endless… The great thing about screen printing is how versatile it is.