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New to screen printing or looking to streamline your operations? Before I worked on Printavo, I ran a small shop in Champaign, IL. As a small shop operator, I found out the hard way that keeping a clean and organized shop was essential to being successful. By minimizing waste I found that I was able to maximize profits and productivity.

One of the most time-consuming aspects of screen printing is cleaning up ink. Let’s face it–it’s not very fun. These are a few things I have done in my shop to reduce the mess in handling ink.

Taking the time to set up a proper ink cabinet saved me loads of time and frustration. By lining the ink shelves with newspaper it prevented ink from touching the actual surface of the shelves and in the event of a drip or spill I would simply throw the newspaper away and replace it with fresh newspaper. Since old newspapers are free and easy to come by, I reaped the benefits of easy cleanup at no cost. With the shelves now protected by newspaper, I took a few minutes to ensure all ink containers were clearly labeled and wiped clean of any ink. Paying special attention to where the lid met the container as well as the bottom. I also discovered stacking ink containers directly on top of one another lead to more than a few disasters.

Before I start my print jobs and handle ink, I always put on an old XXXL tee on over my clothes. When handling ink I always make sure to wear vinyl gloves. These are available at most big box stores in bulk for a low price. In our shop, we keep vinyl gloves next to our ink storage and at our ink handling station. We also keep a stack of newspapers by the handling station and always lay a few out on the table before handling ink. In the inevitable event that ink drips or spills, clean up is quick and easy. We also place high absorption shop rags or recycled old, unusable tees at both the storage rack and handling table for easy access in case of a spill. Shop rags and tees tend to be more absorptive and soak up the ink much better than cheap paper towels that just smear the ink around.

When it comes to handling and storing of ink you can never be too vigilant. Even if you employ all the suggestions above you can still end up with a mess on your hands, whether it be knocking over a container or transferring a small spot from your arm to a couple of tees in production. However, I’ve found that taking these steps can dramatically reduce waste, increase production, and keep things around the shop as clean as it can be. Hopefully implementing these tips in your shop will help save you some time, money, and possibly your sanity.
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