Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Trade shows have restarted. Are you coming?

 Our first show of the 2021 season is fast approaching.  We are truly excited.  There are so many positives to the trade show experience that it is hard to list them all.  Most importantly is the direct connection we get with our customers.  We are on the phone all day, we have many emails, and we have taken full advantage of new tech with FaceTime and TeamViewer and Zoom.  But there is a different connection when the interaction is face to face.  Or mask to mask as these will be.  

It is also better for our customers.  It is harder to determine what is the right path when purchasing a capital good if you cannot touch the product.  Consumables are easier, but hard goods are similar to buying a car or a house.  The user needs to be in direct contact with the product to understand all of the benefits and how they will affect their personal production floor.  We find that very fitting with manual screen presses.  These are certainly a "feel" item.  The operator has to like how the press flows with their hands.

So now both the exhibitor and the attendee have new opportunities. Visit us in Irving and in Indianapolis.  We can't wait to see you.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Time to reconnect and restart

Are you ready?

Even in Michigan we are beginning to see the world shifting back.  It was with great celebration that our own John Ball Zoo opened to the public and that the local little league signed up for t-ball.  There is more work to do, but now is the time to connect with those customers who limited their ad dollars to survive the past year.  Restaurants, event venues and tourist businesses will be eager to see creative new marketing suggestions to restart in the post-COVID arena.

So what new do you have for them?

The same old-same old will feel comforting.  Yes, we could all use a little pre-vid ease.  However, since EVERYONE will be trying to get attention, what will you bring to the table that is new and interesting?  We have had plenty of time to think about that.
  • Can you offer longer runs at better prices?  An ElectaPrint can help with that.
  • Do you chase the athletic market the is back in full swing?  Screen printed number are less expensive and nicer for the athlete than heat seal.  But you need to be equipped for that.  There are lots of options.  Check out the Slider.
  • Looking for short run customization? DTG is a great source for new work.  The DragonAir Crimson could be just what you need to cure those goods.
  • Do you offer super fast turn around?  The a FastFlash would speed you up.  Is yours hot and ready?

  • Can you reduce your set-up fee because you are making screens quicker?  An LED exposure unit would give you this capability.

Go for the close.  Give them a reason to return.

People talk big, but it is the repeated on-time delivery of quality goods that keeps them coming back.  It is creative thinking of new ideas that generates new revenue.  It is the commitment to internal growth and change with complete follow through that grows businesses.  Doing the same work each day should create a smooth flow of production and a quality product.  However, if you do this for too long it will also cause stagnation.  The end of the pandemic offers each business an opportunity to add something new that will generate a buzz of excitement.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Start your engines. The season is about to begin.

 Are you ready?

The season is about to begin.  It has been a long time coming but it is finally here.  Are you ready?

What exactly does that mean?  Are your machines ready for all the action about to happen?  Let's go over what you should be doing now so you are ready for all the orders that are coming your way.

Check under the hood.

Conveyor ovens

Your curing system is the most important machine in the building.  You can print in any number of ways.  But getting a shirt cured has limited resources.  So keep your conveyor ovens at optimal performance levels.  How do you do that?
  • Clean it.  Yes, it is the most important thing.  Get all the fuzz off of it and out of the control panel and fan systems.  The biggest reason for oven failure is overheating due to lint build up and fan functionality.  So get out the shop vac, open the control panel and clean it out.
  • Replace stuff.  We understand that in low times, the cost of replacement parts can seem prohibitive. However, if you are down during the busy times due to lack of maintenance, the cost to the business is higher.  Cooling fans, old drive motors and dirty or torn conveyor belts are quick to change and will reduce down time during high volume months.
  • Have commons part parts on hand.  Some items are low cost and quick change.  Having these items on hand will lower any downtime. Relays, heater connectors, fans and fuses are small and inexpensive.  These are highly recommended to stock on your shelf.
  • Check out the drive system.  Worn sprockets and chains will cause power spikes that will damage a motor control.  This will double your replacement cost.

Automatic printer

Unless you want to manually pull a squeegee on the long run you have, you should spend a little time making sure that your Electraprint is running well.  There is a reason that it asks every time it turns on, "Have your greased me today".  It is important that all the moving parts on the machine have lithium grease applied and lint removed.  This includes squeegee carriages, head side rails, cheese wheels and lift mechanisms.  There are a few other items on the press to check.
  • Squeegees and floodbars need to be sharp and smooth.  No nicks or dull edges.  
  • Have some extra squeegees because color changes just slow you down.  A squeegee for each color group is a great investment.
  • Platens are clean and the rubber coating doesn't have bubbles or tears.  A great print happens on a flat, smooth surface.  Don't skip on the basics.
  • Chains and motors and sprockets do wear.  These are what drive the print heads.  Check now while you have time for a sprocket change.
  • Clean it up.  Seriously, clean shirts come off clean printers.  And it is the cheapest way to keep a press run smoothly.

What should be in on your parts shelf in case of a pit stop?

Each machine has some essential items that cannot be bypassed.  And many of these are inexpensive so having them immediately available is like having a spare set of tires ready when the car rolls into the pit.


This is all about moving electricity.  Simple parts will keep an oven rolling until bigger items can arrive.  
  • Fuses or panel breakers
  • Power breakers
  • Relays
  • Terminal blocks for older heat chambers

ElectraPrint Automatics

  • Photo eyes -- there are a couple of types, so have one of each
  • Safety switches
  • Flash controls
  • Head cable set

What tools are needed for the pit stops.

It surprises us often that many of our customers own industrial equipment but do not think to have a basic tool box anywhere in their shop.  This does not need to be an extensive set of tools, but some basics are needed to keep a shop rolling through a pit stop.
  • Open end wrench set
  • Socket set 
  • Screwdriver set
  • Nut driver with 1/4" socket
  • Basic multi meter.  Our phone techs can teach you to use one, but they are really handy when working on anything electrical.

So get ready to race.

Order some inks, get your screens stripped and coated and set out your print stations.  There is business in the air and the race to the finish will be a wild one.  Let's not have any crashes into the wall.  We will all get to the finish line.  

Thursday, January 14, 2021

DragonAir Crimson engineered for DTG production

We are SO EXCITED.  The DragonAir Crimson oven is fresh out of design and through production and is into DTG print shops throughout the US as well as globally.  Our engineering team dug deep to get this done and the design is a winner.  It addresses all the technical requirements for curing DTG inks and incorporates them into a machine constructed for low volume, high quality production.

Though small on size, this machine is packed with features that are essential. Direct-to-garment printing uses pretreat solution and ink that requires high volume air flow and stabilized heat.  In a short chamber, the garment needs an additional boost to get the cure needed.  These parameters were used to engineer this machine from the ground up just to meet the needs of DTG low volume production.

Major control features

DragonAir Crimson
The Crimson comes equipped with many features that professional DTG printers know are needed.  Starting at the control systems, this unit includes digital temperature control on the main chamber.  This reads the temperature at belt height and regulates cal-rod style heaters for optimal control.  These heaters are also have indicator lights for quick and easy verification of function.

Additionally, the Crimson includes a heat bump on the front of the heat chamber.  These quartz heaters are controlled separately from the main chamber and are monitored with indicator lights.  This allows rapid response to garment temperature requirements and quick heat build of product for faster production.  

The air requirements of DTG inks are serviced by the variable air speed control.  DragonAir Core Technology circulates hot air around the heaters and onto the belt for rapid evacuation of water.  This air can be quickly adjusted to match a garment's specifications.  Also, the discharge from the garment can be funneled through the heavily insulated air box on the end of the chamber.  This is designed to connect to the exhaust system of a production shop and to contain the water vapor to exit from one location.

Construction features

The heat controls combine with a variable speed belt to give the operator a wide range of curing options.  This speed control is connected to a heavy-duty drive train designed with long lasting durability.  Crowned rollers making belt tracking simple and adjustable baffles are used to shield internal temperature from external influences.  All of this is packaged nicely on an industrial frame which requires minimal space.

The DragonAir Crimson is engineered specifically for DTG low volume production.  This small unit is the perfect  addition to any small digital facility who is ready to move on from using a transfer press for curing and is looking for a true DTG production machine.  

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Wow, what a year. Big challenges with huge accomplishments.

 Seriously, murder hornets?

We are printing the annual shirt give away for our staff and we wanted to commemorate all that we have accomplished and we referenced all that has encumbered us.  2020 is a year full of challenges.  When the list was drawn up, it amazed people that there were so many challenges that they did not remember all of them.  And we had to remove some from the list because the list got too long. 

However, the important items on this list are the accomplishments.  These are made more impressive because it is 2020 but our staff has pulled off some simply amazing things.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Used versus Reconditioned. What's the difference?

One thing that 2020 has created is opportunity.  No, we don't hear that very often right now, but 2020 created expansion in some sectors.  The POD (print on demand) market is exploding and that benefits the direct to garment decorator.  Masks are a new product all-together with a need for everyone to own many, so corporate branding is essential on these.  This benefits both the DTG printer as well as the direct screen printer.  

One other market that is growing is the used equipment market.  With the rapid shifting in the global economy, many printers are dumping their current machines due to loss of business or change of direction.  These machines are both manual and automatic printers and curing systems for large and small. Much of the local business is still available and new small printers are looking at that opportunity with the idea low overhead by working without store fronts or from home.

Do you buy Used?

Used machines are like used cars.  They are being sold for a reason.  And even when the current owner says, "it ran great yesterday" there are issues.  Many times these issues are easily fixed if the cost of the machine is within budget.  When buying, each machine type has different functionality to pay attention to.

Manual Printers

When looking at manual printers, most things are fixable at reasonable cost.  Just make sure the cost of the press is minimal.
  • Are the platens in good condition?
  • How clean is it?
  • Do the print heads come down and seat tight within the registration gate?  And if not, is the gate adjustable?
  • Do the micros work?
  • Are the head lifts strong, springs or gas shocks?  And if not, are they still available?

Automatic Printers

When looking at auto printers, replacement parts are costlier.  Also, if you have never set one up and want a tech, make sure one is available and that you are aware of that cost.  Covid-19 has limited travel and increased these prices.
  • Are the platens in good condition?
  • How clean is it?
  • Do the print heads come down and seat tight within the registration gate?  And if not, is the gate adjustable?
  • Do the micros work?
  • Are the motors or air cylinders in good condition?  This can be a very expensive fix.
  • Are there squeegee and floodbar sets?
  • Does the flash work and what power is required?
  • If this is an air driven machine, do you have the power to run the compressor?

Curing Systems

Dryers are the mainstay of production.  Used ones are available everywhere.  And these are tricky to determine if they are fully functioning.
  • How clean is it?
  • Do all the heaters turn on?
  • Does the belt run and how old is the drive assembly?
  • What is the condition of the belt?
  • Does the air system function?
  • Does the oven have digital controls?  If so, these are more expensive to repair.
  • Is this manufacturer still in business?  If not, replacement heaters will be difficult to find.

What does Reconditioned mean and is it worth the cost difference?

Reconditioned machinery from Brown has been inspected from top to bottom.  We will admit that we do not clean used machines as we do not want to charge for labor that the end customer can do themselves.  However, all machines are inspected and repaired for all specifications.  Parts that are marginal are replaced.  Wiring in all ovens is inspected and replaced, if necessary, through the heater rack and into the controls.  Heaters and motors are replaced if they are not functioning.  Control panels are rewired and updated to current technology.  

What is all of this worth?  That is up to the buyer.  Our machines are more money than used ones.  However, we know they will work when you get them and Brown provides a 30 day warranty on the complete machine as well as a 1 year on any item we replaced.  That is a reassurance that pays off in production time and your potential profits.

If you are looking at a used machine, contact us to see if that machine is priced where it should be.  Ask us for the potential repair parts costs.  And then see if we have a comparable item that is reconditioned.  You can determine what value that is to you  But we believe that downtime costs more than any up-charge of refurbished.

Monday, September 28, 2020

The new marketplace economy, does it apply to all sectors?

 In our whirlwind of 2020, everyone is adapting.  On demand commerce is bigger than ever.  One-off garment demand has not slowed.  And now Amazon is in the mix with their latest addition.  

Amazon to Buy $400M in Kornit Digital Printing Equipment, Open New Merch by Amazon Facility

Our BrownDigital line of machinery is a solution for a production issue within DTG printing and Brown has benefited from the on-demand increase.  However, our smaller community printers have been highly impacted.  Their business is face-to-face and relies on local events, schools and tourism.  Thanks for the gradual reopening in some states we are seeing those customers printing again.   They have gotten a small boost from the mask mandates and this is a new product line for many of them.  Brown's new mask platen is a nice solution to making this a profitable product.

One of the largest issues that has affected industrial goods is how to show people what is available.  Trade shows have become virtual.  Online video presentations do a nice job.  But, like buying any large item, many people would prefer to personally see an item run.  As an example, in a recent car purchase there were 2 vehicles.  They were the same cars, only a sedan versus a hatchback.  They were similar mileage and the same age and the same price.  The hatchback would have been preferred and if we could only have purchased sight unseen it is what we would have chosen.  However, we were able to drive both and the sedan was a better choice.  So when selling large ticket items, most people would prefer to see what they are buying.

Brown and BrownDigital have spent time establishing customer connections so that there is confidence that what we manufacture is well designed and will be well supported.  However, we are looking forward to in-person sales events.  Contracts for these events are signed and we know that the hosts are spending time creating a safe environment for visitors.  But will they come?

The pondering of this whole conversation is how to move either back to in-person sales events or how to present large ticket items in a remote world.  As time passes and more time becomes available, Brown will be presenting more video information for both new items and repair tips.  Let us know what you would like to see.