Automatic or Manual Press?

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Old March 17th, 2010, 06:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
Smaug2468 Smaug2468 is offline
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Default Automatic or Manual Press?

Hello y'all,

I was planning on starting a business and was wondering what people suggest as far as buying my first press. My experience has only been around a 4 and 6 color manual press, but I heard an auto press may be the way to go if it's just me and maybe a couple of partners.

I was wondering what brands to look out for when doing my shopping. Any suggestions as far as manual or auto presses? Are autos hard to get a feel for?

I've heard of some names like Antec, Vastec, MNR, Workhorse and Hopkins but I don't know what the masses think about them.

My initial plan was to hunt down a 6/6 or 8/6or8 color manual press but after taking with some people I am newly interested in an 8/8 auto press. Any suggestions?

Thanks ahead of time for any and all help!
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Old April 6th, 2010, 10:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
sunlover sunlover is offline
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Default Re: Automatic or Manual Press?

If you have never printed before, I would print manually 1st. I believe you need to have a firm grasp of how to print. It is a lot cheaper to get into manual printing. I've seen a lot of people get into screen printing, drop a ton on new equipment, and decide that it isn't for them. It's not an easy proffession and has a big learning curve.

I started with a Vastex 6/6 and loved it. I receommend going to a trade show so you can see them 1st hand. Or call the manufacturers and get a list of shops in your area that you can contact to ask their opinions. Start small and let the business grow. If you do it well, you will be able to upgrade.

I just made the leap to an auto. It had a learning curve in itself. But since I printed manually for a few years, it was easy to get up and running. I am running a 8/10 RPM Revolution and it rocks!!! There is alot involved with getting into an auto and it's not cheap to get it up and running.

There are lots of forums that have threads about all of your questions. Do lots of research and watch lots of youtube videos. Good Luck!!
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Old April 10th, 2010, 02:38 AM   #3 (permalink)
gotshirtz001 gotshirtz001 is offline
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Default Re: Automatic or Manual Press?

Start off with a GOOD manual (Workhorse, M&R, Older Hopkins) and learn how to print. You will find rather quickly that one and two color jobs will make you some decent money on a manual... Once you break three colors, your profits begin to sink rapidly. You may need to find a larger print house to contract large multi-color jobs with until you have enough recurring business to justify the leap into the world of automatics.

You will need at least an 8/10 auto when you make the jump. The 6/8 machines are simply too small since you need to account for flash stations, cool down stations and other production realities. Even though it has 6 printheads, you are really only able to print 3 or (maybe) 4 colors without sending the shirt on a second revolution... and without a Revolver-style program (M&R), that is alot of button pressing and a significant amount of extra time in production.

When buying automatic equipment, you would be better off researching ALOT before dropping money on a used press off craigslist or even digitsmith. Otherwise, you may want to use a (trustworthy) broker who knows what they are looking at and can offer some form of guarantee. That way, if it turns out to be a lemon, this broker who told you it was a good press will be on hook for the necessary repairs and/or retrofits. I am not a huge fan of brokers, but they do have their place in the world.

As for pricing, a decent automatic will run you at least $10K and upwards of $15K for anything newer that a 1998. Then you need to account for the air compressor or power supply required to run the press. You cannot buy a compressor that produces 30+ cfm @ 100 psi at Sears or Lowes. These industrial compressors will run you a minimum $1500 for a VERY used piston style (loud) compressor or $3000+ for a VERY used rotary screw compressor. These usually run on 220V power and can carry a significant amp draw (and possibly 3-phase power).

On top of that, a high volume conveyor dryer (300+ shirts per hour) will add extra cost and even more power (or gas) draw to keep the shirts moving... after all, whats the point of having an automatic if you are being held up by your dryer?

After all this equipment has been purchased, you will realize VERY quickly that it cannot feasibly be run in the garage environment. This means that you are needing a commercial space with appropriate utilities and are paying rent on top of the monthly payment for financing this equipment...

If you don't have a WHOLE LOT of business at this point, all this beautiful stuff will sit idle.... and that would be a crying shame.

Good luck... work hard... choose wisely.
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