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I am newer to the screen print industry and I am starting to look at automatic presses. Can someone please explain to me what you would need a 20 color press for compared to a 8 or 10 color press. Do people actually have enough orders that need that many colors...in a contract printing world?
 

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High volume contract shops do get orders in the 12-14 color range, but I don't think it is their most common type of orders. More colors on an auto gives you practically limitless capabilities. With automatic presses, a flash unit takes up a color, more realistically 2 colors since you will ideally have a cool down station after the flash. So if you have 2 flashes on a 14 color press, then you probably won't want to print more then 10-11 colors. Larger presses also have a larger print area, and some larger presses can be equipped to do all over/over the seams printing. I would say the short answer is simply, more capabilities and more cool down time between flashes.
 

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When you have a high color auto many times you will set up multiple jobs. Thus our guys finish printing one job and seamlessly transition to the next, no stopping.

The biggest reason however is the flash cool down situation. Also some clients, like Marvel, will not print with you if you have less then 16 colors.

Jason
 

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Agreed.. The higher number of colors allows you to setup the Front and Back prints of multicolor orders at the same time. This is a HUGE saving if you have a few misprints on the second side of the order. You don't have to set back up on the first side again to complete the order.

There are other advantages as well, I used to work in a shop where they would have a night crew come in and just breakdown and setup the presses. Then when the day crew arrived they would just print all day long. Leave the screens in the press at the end of the run, flick a couple of switches and be running on the next order. Come morning, press was all cleaned-up and setup again, ready to print. Doing this kept alot of people from standing around waiting for press setups and tear downs during the course of the day. Although it still occurred from time to time.

Printmark
 

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It seems to me these are all good answers. But I would add- "Because the market you are in requires it"
If your market is 99% 1-3 colors a 6 color is all the capital you need spend for. Most automatics are limited by the staff speed, not the machines ability to index 1200 an hour. If your market will pay for a 12 color machine, then by all means go for it, and add 2 or 3 flashes and cool down stations. Let your business model and people spending the dough decide on how big the machine needs to be.
 

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KDirect:

It's all about automation and doing things the right way. I run a shop with 10 M&R Autos, and we have multiple 14/16's and an 18/20. All are Tri-Loc compatible, and because we also have two Kiwo I-Jets, our screens are basically pre-registered.

My crews can get any job set up and printing in less than five minutes a screen.

Having a larger press means we can print more colors certainly, but sometimes we have three flashes and cool down stations for doing complex jobs, such as simulated process art, high density, multiple metallics, etc. We aren't limited and can print basically anything the art staff can dream up.

I've got a great Pinterest board that I use to show clients and others around the shop since most of our clients are somewhere else. Check it out: Behind the Curtain at a T-shirt Shop

These presses are very expensive, but you can find some good deals on used ones. I would recommend tailoring your business plan to use equipment that fits your demographic, and if you come across a job that requires something you don't have just contract it out. You can still take the job, but you'll just make less margin.

Good luck,

-M
 
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