Don’t Slow Down Production. Plan Your Prints, Print More Shirts

I know that the title may seem a little off base but hopefully by the end of the text you will agree, or at least think you might agree? Maybe? Anyways, it is defiantly possible that your valuable production time may be suffering from poor planning in the art phase.

Screen printing is a strange enough form of media that you don’t often bump into someone that is a screen print artist. Since the elusive screen print artist has such hard skill set to find and capture; it’s even harder to automate the process. I’ve found that there is no substitute for experience.

Most shops that I’ve toured with ever shrinking production time have a major disconnect between art and production. And let’s face it, artists aren’t press operators and press operators don’t do artwork. However, if you can manage to get them to like each other and work together you can increase your production time, number of smiling team members and/or jobs per day by shoring up the art phase.

A great production artist can engineer the print well before it’s on press. Hmmm, that sounds strange? Doesn’t it? Well at first is does but once the art staff starts connecting the dots you’ll understand. This will; however painful it may be, cause the artist or artists to walk from their desk to the production floor to see how their seps have rendered on press. And here is the part that’s hard to swallow, it takes a significant amount of time staring at prints to understand how to prevent issues before they occur. This is going to cost the artist a lot of time and maybe a pair of shoes or two from all the walking.

However, after years and years of staring at prints and numerous pairs of shoes the artist will figure it out! Hopefully…

Once that occurs; the artist will be able select the proper screen angle and halftone frequency for each color and the amount of trap and fade the white base may or may not need before printing the film. After the film is printed and laying out all over the artists desk they will start planning the print! What? Planning the print? If this doesn’t occur then this is the missing step that’s costing you all that precious production time. To sort it out a little more; if your artist is printing the film and handing it directly to the screen tech or someone else they are failing.

Print planning is essential to eliminating production down time. Re-burning screens and re-arranging print orders are lost dollars and often loss of quality and customer satisfaction, among other very bad things. Which is why the artist should plan the print!

Now we are going back the part where the film is printed and laying all over the desk. The correct next step is to determine which production route or machine will render the print. Once you know how many print heads and flashes you have; the print order, mesh counts, squeegees and squeegee angles can be selected. Then all the pieces to the puzzle can be put together to make a nice road map for the press operator. And let’s face it; it’s always easier and faster to get somewhere with a map. And in screen printing, easier and faster = greater efficiency, less downtime, more profitability and more completed orders per day.

I won’t get into any real specific details about the process because that would eliminate your need for us. I hope that you find some value in this content. Feel free to contact me with any additional questions at Ben@shirtshackia.com

Ben Kremer

Vice President at The Shirt Shack Inc.
Screen Print Enthusiast
Print Engineer and Production Artist