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Manual or Auto?

1189 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  jvieira
I'm looking to buy a screen printing press but I'm wondering what kind I should buy.

We've been in business for 8 years now but we've been outsourcing all our jobs until now; we have an average of 2 screen printing jobs every day and quantities are usually around 30/50 shirts per design. We also get lots of 100/250 shirts but that's about it in terms of quantity (we rarely have higher quantities than that). If we end up having 500+ shirts we can always outsource, that wouldn't be a problem.

Being in business for that long and having new jobs every day, we're looking to buy our first screen printing press and hiring someone to man it. I've been reading a lot about this but I still question whether we should start with a manual or move directly to an automatic (considering we will hire someone with experience to man it).
I fear that - mostly doing small runs - a manual will be better as I believe set up time is a lot faster. The cost of it is also an issue; it's pretty different to buy a manual than it is to buy an automatic. On the other hand, the operational costs seem to be higher with a manual which makes a difference in pricing (we know the market, we know what price we NEED to sell).

What would you guys advise me doing? Also, would I need only one operator or two would be fundamental?
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Our rule is manuals get 24 PC 2 c max
Rest goes on autos.
It really depends on number of imprints/ number of colors
Doing 100 PC 5 color at today's rates on a manual is not going to make money.
Imprint size matters.
Left chest black on white can be an easy manual job even with numbers.
A 16x18 4 color would be different.
Analyze your data and your growth.
Do not under buy equipment grade and number of colors.
One press, 8 color best.
Multiples, you can have different numbers of heads.
We have 8 and 6 manuals, 8 and 10 autos.
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Well, I know my numbers very well; it's a different market here in Portugal. I see most of you guys print 4/6/8 colors and work with high volume which is more of an exception here.

Most jobs are 2/3 colors tops! We rarely get 4 colors. Print size usually ranges from 8x11 to 11x16, one location. Sometimes we get 2 locations but it's rare. All is pretty standard, really.
Then a 6 head manual or 8 auto. Autos need cool down after flash.
Cost your labor, then decide.
We still put over 24 1 color on auto. Quicker. Time it. Labor is our highest expense item.
We set up jobs MUCH faster on the auto than manual. A 2-3 color job with tight registration on the manual will take quite a bit of micro work and on the auto with a registration system it will likely be registered perfectly on the first test print. We won't put a multi-colored job on our manual press unless we are booked up solid because the auto is much faster at setups and obviously run times. So if you're doing 10 jobs per week I'd be miserable doing that on a manual press. I'd find a used auto and have someone that knows what to look for go through it and inspect it before you buy. They are just like cars and can be abused badly or they can be pristine and in perfect working order. You don't want to buy someone else's problem so you need to know or have someone that knows what to look for with the auto.
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ha! You're my kind of guy I see!
That is EXACTLY what I did; I found an used M&R Diamondback and contacted the M&R dealer in Portugal for them to go an inspect it with me. I am most likely going to get that one for my shop just as long as it passes the inspection. It's still a bit more expensive than the manual but worth it if it doesn't need any tuning!
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