Most screen printers get their start on manual screen printing presses: They’re small, relatively inexpensive and able to meet the production demands of a newly established screen printing business. Eventually, however, many screen printers find themselves bound by the limitations of a manual screen printing press. Here’s how a manual press can hold back your growing screen printing business.

Labor costs

Manual screen printing presses are inexpensive upfront compared with their automatic counterparts. As your business grows, however, and you require additional employees to keep up with demands, you might have a hard time balancing the labor costs of laying down screen prints on a manual press with competitive pricing for your customers. Because they take so much manpower to execute a print run, manual presses generally mean that a shop can’t afford to make less than $1 a print. That limitation can stand in your way of keeping up with the pricing offered by shops that run automatic presses.

Production limitations

A good manual screen printer can turn out around 400-600 prints a day. An automatic screen printing press, by contrast, can produce between 3,000 and 5,000 prints a day, possibly more. If you’re operating on a manual press only, you might find yourself turning down larger jobs or jobs with a short deadline; or, you might find yourself unable to match the turnaround times of your competition.

Also check out 7 Tips for Reducing Turnaround Time at Your Screen Printing Shop


Manual screen printing presses have a lot of variables with each print stroke. The squeegee angle, the amount of pressure on the squeegee and the speed of the print stroke all have an impact on the final print. Skilled screen printers can turn out quality, detailed prints on a manual press. But even the best printers can get fatigued on a long press run. The human element of screen printing, paired with the tired muscles caused by manual printing, can make it difficult to keep consistent quality on a manual press.

Physical wear and tear

The limitations of manual screen printing aren’t limited to production costs and quality; there also are physical limitations to consider. Manual screen printing creates a lot of wear and tear on the body due to its repetitive nature. The tight grip on the squeegee can cause problems with the hands and wrists, and the motion of screen printing can cause back and shoulder pain. On top of that, manual screen printing has you standing on your feet all day, twisting and leaning over the press. Years of this screen printing can take a tole on your body, and over time, you might find that your production slows down, or you might find yourself unable to commit to long press runs.

For more info, read Finding the Right Technique for Your Manual Screen Prints

Manual screen printing presses are an important tool: They provide many screen printers a cheap and easy entry into the business, and even larger screen printing shops keep manual presses for smaller press runs, sampling, smaller prints or specialty jobs. But as your shop grows, you might find yourself limited by your manual press. Taking your shop to the next level might mean that it’s time to consider transitioning to an automatic press to allow you to lower your labor costs, increase your production capacity, ensure quality control and lower the wear and tear on your body.

Looking for some more tips to help you decide if it’s time to switch to an automatic press? Click the link below to download our free eBook:

Moving from a Manual to Automatic Press: Is It Worth It?