Take care to make sure these common errors aren’t holding your business back.

When it comes to screen printing, mistakes can be costly. A bad print, bad art and poor quality control can lead to wasted time and materials or, even worse, unhappy customers. By avoiding these mistakes, you will increase the quality of your output, decrease waste and make sure you are providing your customers with screen printed merchandise they’re sure to love.

1. Not Proofreading Your Artwork

Typos happen. Misspelled words happen. Fonts and colors can be close but not quite right. Often, these errors are so subtle, they’re easy to miss. Proofreading can help make sure your graphics are spot on before you start printing. Make sure you are double-checking each piece of artwork before it makes it to the press. After you proof your art, have someone else in the shop proof it again. Most important in protecting your profit margin is making sure you show the artwork to your customers for final approval before you print.

It is a lot easier to fix an error on your graphic than it is to fix a 200-piece press run, and the more eyes you have examine the graphic, the less likely you are to have a mistake go to press. Once you are ready to print, do a test run to make sure that the graphic looks right on your substrate, that your registration is spot on and that you have good graphic placement on the final product.

2. Not Thinning Your Ink

Most plastisol inks are sold as ready to use. In reality, however, they are often too thick for a good application. When plastisol ink is too thick, it can lead to pilling or blotchy ink, or blurry designs. For some inks, a thorough stirring is enough to create an ideal printing texture, while other inks might require being mixed with a little reducer. If you are new to screen printing, it might take some time and experimentation to find the right ink thickness, but taking time to do so will result in better screen prints and better texture on your final products. And that will always lead to less waste and happy and repeat customers.

Anatol’s Formulator ink mixer takes the work out of preparing your ink

3. Flash Curing Between Each Color

There are many screen printing shops out there that flash cure between every color as a rule. This is a time-consuming step that can be avoided by employing proper printing techniques. When you have good registration — which can be achieved with good artwork, proper screen tension and proper off-contact, and by making sure that your platens are tight on your machine before each press run — you can print wet-on-wet and avoid flash curing between each color. By taking the steps to ensure proper registration, you can cut the need for flash curing each color and increase your shop’s productivity.

Anatol’s efficient flash cure units like the Rapid Wave, combined with good
preparation, can help cure your inks with ease and boost productivity

4. Not Controlling The Temperature During Cure

Make sure you invest in conveyor dryers that allow you to control your cure temperature. While pretty much all plastisol inks must reach the same temperature to cure, different jobs will require different dryer settings to get the ink to that curing temperature. A job with thicker ink will need a lower temperature for a longer period of time; otherwise, you will scorch your substrate while you wait for the inner layers of the ink to reach curing temperature. In addition to ink thickness, there are other considerations that affect cure temperature, including moisture levels and substrate material.

Temperature guns and strips can help you monitor the surface temperature of the garment during curing. Controlling your dryer’s temperature and monitoring the temperature during curing will help ensure that your products have been properly cured while avoiding scorch marks and dryer stains that lead to product waste.

Anatol conveyor dryers like the Solutions give you precise control over
dryer settings and even heating to ensure your prints cure perfectly

5. Sticking To The Same Techniques

You can be sure there will always be a market for plastisol prints on sports jerseys and event t-shirts. But there are clothing fads, and screen printers work in the clothing industry. Staying on top of trends and experimenting with different inks and techniques can help your business to stay relevant and grow, leading to more jobs and more profit.

Water-based and discharge printing have become more popular as consumers look for a softer feel and “vintage” look on t-shirts. Distressed inks and detailed prints also have become increasingly common. When you rely too heavily on your core printing business, you miss out on the opportunity to expand your business. You don’t want to turn away a customer seeking a different style of garment just because you’ve never done it.

6. Not Updating Your Equipment

Screen printing equipment is expensive, and it is one of the biggest costs of running your business. Most screen printing machines will run for decades with regular maintenance, which means it can be tempting to stick with your old equipment. Not updating your equipment as your business grows can be a big mistake that can cost you time, money and customers in the end.

Whether it’s moving from manual to automatic or from a 6-color press to a 12-color press, new machinery can increase your production. It can also help you offer different products to your customers. While it might mean an up-front investment, new screen printing machines can pay off by helping your business grow faster.

7. Not Marketing Your Business

As a screen printer, you put a lot of work and a lot of heart into your business. You focus on creating high quality prints that you can be confident customers will be proud of. And when you’re producing great work, it’s easy to assume that people will seek you out. Customers will tell their friends about your work. While that is true to some extent, just like any business, as a screen printer and business owner you can’t underestimate the importance of marketing your business.

Marketing doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is important to take simple steps like setting up a website and business accounts on social media. You can also reach out to local schools, businesses and organizations that you know are screen printing customers. Creating high-quality products matters, but you have to let your customer base know about your products to help your screen printing business grow and succeed.

Here at Anatol, we know we can only succeed if you succeed. That’s why we make it our goal to give you all the tools and information you need to keep producing excellent work. Need to upgrade your equipment to keep quality and productivity high? Want to learn more about how to get the most out of your setup? We’re always ready to talk screen printing.