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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi There!

I'm looking to purchase a printing press kit. I plan to use it to start up my brand and to do some screen print jobs on the side. I have done some DIY screen prints without a press, but I want to turn out professional quality work. I have a pretty small budget of about 3k to get started with.

I was thinking about purchasing the Lap Cat Screen Kit or the RANAR Junior Kit from CatSpit Productions. I also was considering the Riley Hopkins 4/2 kit from Ryonet. Is either press pretty good to get into the field? Has anyone purchased a CatSpit press kit? I appreciate any recommendations!

Here are the links to the kits I am deciding between.
Lap Cat Kit
RANAR Kit
Riley Hopkins

Thanks!
 

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I would've not get any of these. You really need a conveyor dryer to properly cure your prints. I suggest to piece together some used equipment.
 
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I'm not a fan of kits as you are always paying for some stuff you either don't need or would be better off without. Buying used as suggested above is smart, but not always possible where/when you are.

If you are up for some more DIY work, you can do professional level work on a line press. They are simple to build. Search on here and/or google to see what is involved. Many, many shirts you see from major brands were printed on such presses in Asia. I encourage you to investigate this idea if you are reasonably good at DIY projects.

That said, I bought my first press before I was aware of line presses, so I ended up with the Silver Press from Ryonet, 4/1. It was fine for single-color prints, but was a pain to setup for multi-color work, and prone to inconsistent results. The main fault of the design was that it depended upon the tightness/friction of the two bolts that held the head to the arm in order to set and control the tilt of the head. This needs to be adjusted for each screen since the square tube of the screen frame is often a bit out of true. Then partway through a job the damn joint slips a bit and you are FUBAR. So if you want professional results and minimum headaches, don't get a press that uses bolts through the joint to set the head tilt.

Also, when tightening down the head clamp, the screen would tend to squirm a bit, and since the press did not have micros, it took a lot of fiddling to get multiple screens properly aligned to each other. Micros are nice, but even nicer is a solidly built head clamp that doesn't make the screen squirm when you tighten it down.

I eventually made a go at selling shirts, and was going sort of crazy when my best seller was a 3-color design. I soon bought a Vastex 2000 4/4, a truly professional level press, but also $$$$.

My first DIY exposure unit was 4 40w UV tubes, a box made out of 2x12 and a piece of glass. It worked. Pro tip. Use a fast poly type emulsion, like Saati PHU. Diazo is slow, and when you have a weak exposure unit and Diazo, it can be frustrating. I now have a DIY 1000w metal halide. If I were doing a new one today, I would probably use UV LEDs. Lots of info on this if you search.

I print water base, and used a heat gun as a "flash." It works. I've since bought a Vastex F-1000 and it is great. Many of the people who use line table presses, use heat guns for flashing--though I imagine you could use a conventional flash if you set things up right.

I cure with a heat press. It gives good results with the water base inks I use. Some also cure Plastisol with a heat press, though obviously there can be issues if you use too much heat and pressure with that ink.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you all for the advice. I'll definitely look into making a line press NoXid. Are there any water based or plastisol inks you'd recommend? How do you cure with a heat press? Do you let the press hover as with a flash dryer or do you normally press it?

Thanks again
 

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Thank you all for the advice. I'll definitely look into making a line press NoXid. Are there any water based or plastisol inks you'd recommend? How do you cure with a heat press? Do you let the press hover as with a flash dryer or do you normally press it?

Thanks again
To cure with a heat press, first make sure the print is reasonably well flashed with whatever you are using for a flash ... but you pretty much have to do that anyway before peeling the shirt off the platen.

Lay parchment paper over the image area of the shirt (available in the baking section of your grocery store). Then press it. For water base, most press twice, raising the press and removing the paper so steam can vent for a few seconds, then back on with the paper for press number two. For cotton, I'm currently doing two 20 second presses at about 330 - 335. If the garment has a high poly content, I do something closer to 305 for three 20 second presses (2 x 30 would be same/easier, but I don't bother to adjust my timer when doing mixed garments).

Permaset Aqua Supercover is my favorite ink. It is a collection of opaque inks that do not require underbasing, though print/flash/print is certainly required to get the white to pop. For printing on light-color garments, their regular opacity ink works fine. Downsides are price, a tendency to build up in your screens over time, and a bit of a learning curve in terms of keeping Supercover wet enough to print well. Compare the ink in your "working" bucket to fresh unused ink and add water as needed to get to the same consistency. Nine and a half times out of ten if a print isn't working right, you let the ink lose too much moisture. I get mine from this place:
https://www.waterbaseinkusa.com/

Green Galaxy from Ryonet is another option. Better price. Less prone to drying out. The opaque white is super easy to print and cleans up like the ink itself was made to clean screens. Downsides are that it tends to have a shine to it, and it tends to get sticky when hot so it needs to cool after flashing or you'll be sorry. Only the white is available as an opaque ink. The others are much runnier than Permaset non-opaque colors, which sort of annoys me when recovering ink from the screen, but does not really affect the print.

I don't use Plastisol, so no advice there.
 
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