Finding the ideal dryer for your screen printing shop is a task that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Figure Out What You NEED
- What are you printing? Some types of garments cure more efficiently in certain types of dryers.
- How big are your production runs? If you’re doing low quantity print jobs, you can eliminate costly conveyor dryers based on how often it’ll run.
- What ink are you using? Some inks take longer to cure than others. Some dryers may not meet the curing needs of your ink of choice.
- How much space do you have? Some conveyor dryers take up a lot more space than others, and not all can be easily moved.
Getting to Know Gas Dryers
Gas dryers are heated using convection, a method of heat transfer using the manipulation of air molecules. Once the gas source is lit and reaches the user’s preferred temperature, hot air is blown throughout the oven chamber. In gas dryers, ink is cured by the heating of the air within the oven. Gas dryers are the top choice among shops with high output.
Ideal for Big Production
Gas conveyor dryers are great for large scale shops due to their ability to cure a large quantity of garments at a fast pace. Not only do gas dryers increase production efficiency, they’re also cheaper to run. It’s very easy to control the heat in a gas dryer. The convection method used by a gas dryer is reliable because once you set the desired temperature you can trust the heat will be distributed evenly. This comes in handy when curing plastisol, which requires a 320°F temperature to properly cure prints. Printers using water based ink will appreciate a gas dryer as it expels moisture faster than an electric dryer.
You Get What You Pay For
High curing capacity paired with energy-saving benefits is an important factor that sways many screen printing shops towards gas conveyor dryers, but they are far from a cheap solution. Gas dryers usually cost about five times as much as electric dryers as they cost more to manufacture. Expect to make a considerable investment in a new gas conveyor dryer. Don’t try to cut corners – you can find an old gas dryer for much less, but don’t expect to find the energy efficient technology associated with newer models. Not only do gas dryers take up a lot of space, they also require a gas line to operate – another costly prerequisite to owning this type of dryer. You can get away with using LP gas if your location can’t run a natural gas line, but your energy bill will run about as high as an electric dryer at that point.
No Gas, No Problem! Electric Dryers Offer an Alternative Solution
Electric dryers use infrared heat, much like the heat felt when the sun shines on your face, to cure printed garments. They use heating elements to make direct contact with the print as opposed to using hot air for curing. Electric dryers are common among screen printing businesses that don’t have access to natural gas at their location, or don’t have the space needed for a gas dryer. Electric dryers are a great choice for small shops with small print runs.
Great for Smaller Print Runs
Electric conveyor dryers are a staple in many screen printing shops that specialize in smaller production runs. They’re built smaller and they’re not connected to a ground line, allowing you to move them around your shop or store them when not in use. An electric conveyor dryer will be cheaper than gas if you use it properly – meaning that you only use it for small production runs. Another advantage of this option is the initial cost. You can find an electric dryer for under $3000. Although you may initially save money compared to purchasing a gas dryer, you’re not out of the woods yet…
Don’t Overdo It!
The amount of electricity needed to supply an electric conveyor dryer can make your power bill sky-high if you’re running it as you would a gas dryer. The cost of your electric bill can potentially double if you’re using an electric dryer for large production runs. Due to the smaller size of electric dryers, you can expect a slower production run compared to a gas dryer. Not only does the size slow down production, the infrared heating process can present issues that will further slow down your job. Infrared heating elements have a harder time evenly distributing heat than gas, causing certain areas to receive more heat than others. This can result in a lack of curing, as well as a burning effect known as “scorching”. It’s important to closely monitor the temperature of an electric dryer to ensure consistent results.
Something to Keep in Mind…
Going with a conveyor dryer that features forced air circulation will maintain an even temperature throughout the unit. This will help water based prints cure faster as well as prevent scorching mishaps.
A conveyor dryer is necessary for any serious print shop. Taking a good look at your average work flow is a start at figuring out what type of dryer would be the right fit for your business.
Anatol offers gas and electric conveyor dryers in a wide variety of sizes and options to meet your production needs and fit your budget. Contact us today and we’ll help you find a dryer that’s the perfect fit.
Or check out our free eBook: How to Choose the Right Conveyor Dryer