December '21

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2 4 G R A P H I C S P R O D E C E M B E R 2 0 2 1 G R A PH I C S - PR O.C O M S I G N A G E & P R I N T I N G S H O P T A L K | R I C K W I L L I A M S I n this day and time, few modern com- mercial sign shops are doing in-house screen printing, but our little operation in Northeast Texas has always kept that ca- pability. Even today there are projects that have no better method of producing basic spot color than screen printing. Many years ago, as a college freshman, I went to work at small local sign shop. There would be a mix of jobs that would come through that shop which were best done by screening printing. Back then, every step, from drawing the layout to hand cutting the stencil to pulling the squeegee, was done by hand. To me it was fun. When I started my own very small sign business, I too would go through the same steps to produce 50 or 100 identical oilfield signs or duplicated political signs and so forth. Later we would learn to use light-sensitive stencils and positives to set up our screens. Since screen print- ing was on a random basis, and just a part of our work, we used the simplest, most inexpensive means of accomplishing the task. Fortunately, we found that doing things on a shoestring worked just fine. By screen printing in-house, we could offer our clients a service that a lot of shops could not. Printing technology, of course, has come a long way since then, and digital printing has taken over a lot of what sign shops used to screen print, and that's fine. But we still have a variety of jobs each month and each year that come through our shop that are still best done by screen printing. I feel like other shops have the same op- portunities, but don't really know what to do with them. This month we will look at some simple but practical ways to do certain projects that are more efficient and more profitably done by sign shop screen printing. For example, just the other day I found myself getting out a well-used screen- printing kit that I have used to print hun- dreds of small "Welcome" metal tags for a local company that sells metal yard items. In just a few minutes I was knocking out another order of those tags, which we charge $2 each to print, on both sides, which translates to a dollar per image on this simple and often-repeated job. A little jig with a cutout in it just small- er than the tag allows for each one to be SIGN SHOP SCREEN PRINTING STILL PRACTICAL AND PROFITABLE A small wooden screen, hinged to a scrap of MDO, with a kick leg to hold it in the "up" position. This setup is about as simple as it gets for screen printing in the sign shop, and this arrangement has been used many, many times. (All im- ages courtesy the author) A template with a cutout, allows for printing the front and back side immediately, saving valuable time.

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