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Discussion Starter #1
Screen reclamation tends to be most screen printers’ least favorite part. Removing ink, emulsion, haze and tape isn’t near as much fun as creating artwork or actually printing the t-shirt. What many printers don’t realize is that there is a much easier, quicker, cleaner and cheaper way to reclaim screens – dip tanks.

Four screen dip tank (Up to 25"x36")



Dip tanks are usually made out of polythylene and can normally hold four to eight screens. The tank is filled with water or a water/chemical mix depending on what the printer is attempting to achieve. Let’s dive into how the dip tank can help you in your screen printing business.

Reclaiming


The screen reclaiming process generally has four steps: ink removal, emulsion removal, haze removal and degreasing. With each step you are required to apply the chemical to the mesh, scrub the mesh thoroughly and then rinse it out.
Here’s a cost and time breakdown in the standard method:

  • Ink remover applied, scrubbed and rinsed: .25 per application
  • Emulsion remover applied, scrubbed and rinsed: .10 per application
  • Haze/stain remover applied, scrubbed and rinsed: . 28 per application
  • Degreaser applied, scrubbed and rinsed: .03 per application
This process on average can cost 66 cents per screen in chemicals and take about 10 minutes.


With the dip tank reclaiming process you can cut over half of the time and cost. Simply card off excess ink, remove tape and place the screen in the dip tank with your solution and water mix. After one or two minutes, remove the screen from the tank and rinse it. Apply a haze remover/degreaser combination product and rinse once more.


Here’s a cost and time breakdown in the dip tank method:

  • Screen placed in dip tank with solution/water mix and rinsed: .15 per application
  • Haze/stain remover applied, scrubbed, and rinsed: .09 per application
This process on average can cost 24 cents per screen in chemicals and take about 4 minutes.


As you can see, you can cut around 60-65% of your cost and time using a dip tank. This averages out to be 42 cents savings in chemicals and 72 cents savings in labor costs (assuming you are paying the current minimum wage cost, $7.25 per hour) for a total of $1.14 per reclaim in savings.


Now, how long will it take us to recoup our investment in a dip tank? If our tank costs $450.00 and we save $1.14 in each reclaim, it will only take 395 reclaims to pay for the tank. After the tank is paid for, how much money will you save by having it in use at your shop?

  • 10 screens / week – $592.80 / year savings
  • 25 screens / week – $1,482.00 / year savings
  • 100 screens / week – $5,928.00 / year savings
There are other benefits of using a dip tank system:

  • Less water usage
  • Cleaner wash out booth area
  • Better attitude from your employee who cleans screens
  • Streamlined process that is easier to teach and retain
As you can see, the many benefits of using a dip tank will quickly offset it’s initial cost. The numbers in this article portray an average screen printing shop. You may be able to reclaim faster or slower than this. Plug your own production numbers into the formula and see what you come up with.

Things to Consider


As great and easy as the dip tank process can be, there are a few things one must realize when they are purchasing a dip tank.

  • Dip tanks don’t work magic. A three year old stencil will be just as tough to reclaim in a dip tank as it would be by hand. Dip tanks work best with stencils that are six months or newer.
  • You will want to ensure that your frames are properly sealed. A frame with a hole or a leak will take on water inside the tank.
  • Wooden frames may warp quicker if they are left in the dip tank for an extended amount of time. Be sure to leave any wooden frames in the dip tank no longer than is necessary.
In Conclusion
Implementing a dip tank system in your screen printing business will allow you to save time and money reclaiming screens while maintaining a cleaner work space and improving employee attitudes. I challenge you to input your own numbers into the formula and see how much money and time you can save by investing in a dip tank.


- Tance Hughes is President of Tesep Supply Company. The company sells textile screen printing supplies and offers training to new and existing screen printers.
 

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Pulling tape is my least favorite thing to do.. I leave that to the rookie.. I like washing screens cause I take out my aggression by blasting the crap out some emulsion :)
 

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When I bought my diptank, the set of instructions had different mixing ratios. One piece of paper said one thing while another said something different. Well, impatient me added 5 gallons of easy strip and added enough water to fill it up. It's been working great over a year now and I've added a little of water to make sure the screens are completely under. When will I know to replace the chemical?

Also, we are not a 5 days a week shop. We average screen print once a week with reclaiming roughly 8 to 10 screens every other week.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You can reclaims hundreds of screens before having to change the chemical, possibly up to 1,000.

In my opinion, as long as it is still working as intended, why change it out?
 
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