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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
i know that this kind of thread topic has been raised before, but i think it's something worth dredging up from the bowels of old subject hell periodically.

so, a lot of folk would like to screen print, but even the cost of used equipment can be a huge pain in the pocketbook. not only that, but there's always the question of 'what's the best bang for my buck?'

instead of the expense and uncertainty of buying new and expensive or potentially buying into someone else's problems with used stuff, a few will build it themselves and add/remove bells and whistles as they see fit. i'd like to know what ppl have built, the advantages and disadvantages of that experience or of someone they've heard of, but also alternatives to processes that are just as effective as 'doing it by the book' and the time and money savings they see.

not expecting a lot of replies here. :) still, i'm interested in creative ways people have used to get the job done that you won't find in any 'how-to' article/book/video.
 

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so, a lot of folk would like to screen print, but even the cost of used equipment can be a huge pain in the pocketbook. not only that, but there's always the question of 'what's the best bang for my buck?'
i know there are plenty of diehard DIY'ers who love making their own stuff, but the best bang for my buck is buying the best equipment possible from a reputable manufacturer. in other words, i'd rather invest in good equipment than make it from scratch. but hey that's just me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
the idea is that not everyone has the capital to buy brand new, top-shelf equipment, and the sub-par stuff they could buy might as well be homemade. besides, one shouldn't automatically equate 'homemade' with poor quality. for instance, you wouldn't want me building your computer, but i know of people that can build one for you that kills anything you could ever buy off the shelf, and for a better price. and granted, the store-bought stuff is likely to be sturdier, but it's also not repairable for the average guy, and a guy can can, say, reweld a press' frame probably can build a manual press anyway. i mean, it's not rocket science. it's a frame. nuts and bolts. springs. other stuff your hardware store has.

but, if you can build a good quality six screen press for less than the price of a four screen, wouldn't you? i would! :) right now i have our electrician trying to refit our burned out flash dryer's ceramic elements. hey, if he can do it, it beats the hell out of paying $600 to replace the thing! (and for what it's worth, i've never advocated making your own flash dryer unless you're able to construct UL quality stuff, and even then....)

okay, so this thread isn't for everyone, just as i predicted. :) but, since it was brought up, for those DIYers out there, how does the quality hold up with the store bought stuff (that never breaks and exceeds all possible consumer expectations for years and year)?
 

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Most DIY home built products are not all up to par but some are. Depending on the material used to build the equipment, some will last forever and some will last a month. I could never understand why most DIY presses built are made from wood. The wood is going to warp sooner or later mainly those that make the platen arms from 2x4's.

Manufactured equipment is built with repeatable precision which is something that just can't be done at home using a few hand tools and therefore will not last in duration and repetitiveness as machined equipment.

There is however some folks that have some very good skills and craftsmanship that can DIY there own equipment and use it for sometime. Take a look at youtube and there are plenty of Asian printers that can run circles around most of us here that use DIY built equipment but pay attention as to what the equipment is built with and you will see that 95% is made with metal and not wood.

The conveyor dryer I built runs great but is not used on a daily basis. I know That I built it with quality material but I also know that it will not perform or last the duration of a manufactured dryer.

If you have some great craftsman skills and do not have the capitol, you most certainly can build your own equipment and profit with it until you can afford to purchase equipment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
if wood wasn't very sturdy, they wouldn't make trees out of it, right? in all seriousness, there are parts of the press that would just require strength. at these points i would think a good press with a wooden foundation would have additional hardware to provide more structural stability and muscle. i would think a well-built wooden press would last for years, wouldn't you? of course, you can fix chinese welds if you had to with a couple of bolts and some metal (which would be easier to fix than chinese dog food and chinese drywall and chinese....). i really don't know how long it would last if built right.

as far as machined precision goes, not so much judging by my old workhorse. if you have the means to cut a slot in metal, the rest can be bought at the hardware store as far as i can tell. repeatability is a potential issue, but the moving parts you need is likely something you'd have to buy, so i'm not sure that's *that* big of an issue. this is the part where someone with imagination steps in, to be able to look at how something is made from the vendor and put their own spin on it. i mean, my press is rigged in spots, and i'm sure that after time most other people's set-up is 'home engineered' here and there, too, and even customized to do other things. i could be wrong, but i doubt the parts that required repeatability needs to meet NASA specifications, no?

my wife had taken a class where the teacher showed her how to achieve perfect registration every time, apparently eliminating the need for micro-registration (but had i built a press, registration would be based on gears), so that's something i wouldn't have to worry about. supposedly. i would have to buy new screens, though, and right now that's not my priority.

like you said, why someone would build platen arms out of wood is beyond me. maybe if they built it as a desktop press it wouldn't be an issue? actually, that might work ~ i've always been unhappy with how my platen is adjusted... seems to me that if the arm had sliders on the sides ala a drawer and a good lock-down mechanism then i could eliminated half of my micro registration located on top right there? if that's something that would work, then why wouldn't the manufacturers build that in? simple: cost. having been in manufacturing nearly my entire working life, i can tell you there are better processes out there, but better usually means more money. anyway, someone should be able to find some tubular steel frame or something suitable. wood is just the easier and cheapest to work with, and the idea here also is that you're not going to be hitting your press 1,000 a day, either, so all that repeatability and theoretical high precision machining isn't necessarily needed. your point is well taken, though: twenty years down the line and you are probably going to have a store bought rig by then just because it seems to make sense in most people's minds.

it's impressive that you've built a conveyor dryer. given the cost of a new one, and you rather prove the point of this topic. what about it makes you think it wouldn't stand up with one you bought? that is, the fact of the matter is that no one builds 100% of their own parts in-house. they have a supplier for the motor, a supplier for the chain, the blower, any electronics (which is likely to be the biggest gap between us and them), probably the belt... the 'manufacturer' probably only bends their own metal and puts the rest of the shipped in pieces together. so, for example, if your motor is the same or comparable to what they use, why wouldn't it last just as long (assuming it's wired correctly)? i admit we're not talking about building spice racks, but there's this notion that store bought stuff is always the best and it's just not true. store bought stuff is completely built on the cheap, almost invariably using the cheapest suppliers and 'cost effective' processes. their advantages include engineering (which you can copy and a person with half a brain calls common sense in a lot of it. besides, when was the last time an engineer sat down and tried to re-imagine a manual press, i wonder, lol), machinery that allows them to make a thousand of something in a day, but you only need to build one, and the ability to do some precision work which, as far as i can tell in this case, can be done at home.

i would think the wood would warp eventually, too. the aluminum framing used in manufacturing is probably strong enough and requires no welding. i'd just have to track down some suppliers. but, a basic jamb and header (maybe web stiffener is applicable here, dunno, not a skilled trades guy, lol) might work, too. is that connection strong as a weld? stronger? ??? for the DIYer, it's probably at least good enough.

what about exposure units? or dip tanks? or washout areas? (heh, my washout area is an old three-basin sink with a trophy column for one of the legs, the thing surrounded by cheap paneling i tore off the basement walls.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
that's what i'm talking about. :) david, i like how you came up with the air flow system of a bathroom fan and furnace filter. keeps the air flow strong and the filter catches debris. brilliant! it probably doesn't matter too much in typical production settings, but if you have it filled up, do you put the screen you need done fastest on the bottom, or do they all dry at the same rate?

binki, would that be a self-cleaning oven? lol. i can picture someone with one of those blodgett pizza ovens shoveling shirts in and out with a big pizza spatula.... now that'sa tasty shirta....
 

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They seem to dry evenly from top to bottom, about 30-45 min on average when full. In winter I place a small electric "milk room" heater near the base so it sucks warmer air in, apparently cold air doesn't carry humidity away as well as warm air.

I never tried the kitchen oven, my wife would freak out.
I wonder if pizza scented shirts would sell better?
 

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a while back someone posted that they had a piece of steel that they put in the oven and then they put the shirt on the floor, the steel on the shirt and then they stood on it for a heat press.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
how do you mean, david? thanks for the pics, btw, those really help.

interesting about the oven and the metal... i hope they thought to put a towel between the plate and shoes, i can see my shoes sticking right to that, lol.
 

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"How to print tshirts for fun and profit" is an awesome book, and it has blueprints for a DIY 1 and 4 color press, and exposure unit. it is the best beginning screen printing book I have ever seen or read.and I'm not really a learn by reading kinda person.
 
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