Sign & Digital Graphics

June '19

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66 • June 2019 • S I G N & D I G I T A L G R A P H I C S SPECIALTY IMAGING DIGITAL GRAPHICS Landrowski prefers to focus on what screen printers excel at—improving upon what has been a successful and dominant part of the practice for years. He believes screen printing offers, "Specialty prints and effects, vibrant colors, specialty applications and things that digital printing is not good at." It's best to look at digital and screen options as ways to improve a sign shop's operations simultaneously rather than a combative head-to-head competition of processes. "I feel the processes are very complimentary," says Landrowski, though he says he does think screen printing has lost market share to digital. However, "I see both as being needed and viable technologies going forward," he continues. "In fact, many of the projects we do use both technologies. An easy example is that digital printing struggles with white as it is typically a very slow and very expensive endeavor. We screen print whites both under and behind digital prints as a more cost effective and many times better method of production." Morgan also sees an inclusive marketplace for both ways of printing. "Both wide-format printing and conventional screen printing equally have their place," he says. "I think it depends entirely on what the customer is looking for and what their budget is." Costs can come into play if a sign shop has a job to consider and both screen printing or digital printing may be appropriate options. "Screen printing signage is still one of the most efficient when it comes to the price of equipment," states Marcotte. "Many table top units are available on the market for reasonably cheap, where the digital flat-bed counterparts tend to have a steep price tag on them." Aside from the equipment, time and volume also play factors into costs. "This (digital) method of printing can also be more cost and time effective. On the other hand, a screen-printed sign will typically last longer and is affordable for simple high-volume jobs," says Morgan. "Likewise, screen printing can have high setup costs, slower turnaround times and your material size is limited. You have to take all of these things into account, and again both methods have their place." At the end of the day, however, it may be the customer that makes a final determination between digital and screen printing. Because, even with new technologies being released constantly, there are still areas where screen printing remains the best pos- sible solution. "I think the value of a screen-printed sign or project is in the eye of the consumer," says Landrowski. "The things that screen printing is able to achieve is truly amazing and some of our most interesting projects ever have involved specialty screen printing. I think screen printing is chosen over other print methods when the client is looking for something specific that other methods cannot achieve." SDG SCREEN PRINTING SUCCESS: Storing, Handling and Operating Professionals weigh in on tips of how to handle media, store ink and keep shops in the best condition to pre- serve the quality of screen prints. The job can't start until the right pieces are in place; and the job isn't done just because the printing is complete. Inks: Temperature Matters " Always make sure to keep your ink stored in a cool environ- ment," says Marcotte. • Have lids on all your inks • Make sure they don't get too warm, which causes drying • Also make sure they don't get too cold, which causes freezing • Inks should be stored in an area that never gets warmer than 72 degrees F or colder than 45 degrees F • Make sure not to have inks near a dryer or a heat- ing unit of any sort Operations: Handling It Appropriately "Common sense is the key element here," says Landrowski. • Limit handling in every facet of your operation • Keep your facility as clean as humanly possible • For the most part, what we produce is durable but reduce "touches" or limit movement of the parts The Prints: Take Necessary Care " If a customer does specify screen print, it is usually for durability or longevity," says Steward. • All surface characteristics of the print media will affect the appearance of the print • Finishes mostly affect how light is reflected off the ink film, but can interfere with ink laydown • Allow inks to fully cure, and insert slip sheets between prints after unracking For a handy guide on how to make a do-it-your- self screen printing setup for your own shop, visit

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