Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Is your dryer showing signs that it is time to upgrade?

CD-2411 Circa 1985

I walked through our south warehouse last week and noticed some screen printing dryers that appear to be a little older.  After checking a few serial tags I quickly realized the dryers are older than I am.  Many of these dryers still work and cure shirts as efficiently as they did in their prime, however, like hammer pants, that still function like they did in the 80’s.  It might be time to change your style. 

Disclaimer****If you are still wearing Hammer pants, using a pager, or believe the Internet will not catch on, please disregard the rest of this blog.

Curing technology and dryer efficiency has not changed much since the 80’s, and dryers are not featured on What Not Wear so how do we know if it is time to repair or replace our current curing system.

The following is a couple of questions you can ask yourself about your dryer and I will let you determine the results. 

Determine the Type

 Is your dryer gas or electric?
a.     If Electric continue
b.     If Gas we will tackle that in a later blog post

Size does matter

 Does your current dryer slow down production.
Simply put, drying technology is the same today as it was 25 years ago.  There are only two variables in the curing equation, Heat and Time. The higher you run the temperature, the faster you can run the belt. However this is a thin line, if you only cure the outside of the ink and not all the way through, the ink will fall off, or the shirt gets to hot and combusts.  In a perfect world we would like less heat and more time. If you cannot achieve a good cure at a slower speed it is possible you need a larger dryer. 

Driving a Fiero is not a good idea either

Do you constantly work of your dryer?

The cliché that time is money comes into play here.  If you dryer is not reliable or you constantly stop production to work it, you might want to look at a trade in. Or if jobs get returned due to curing issues this can easily damage your reputation as a company.  I could have kept the a Fiero running and saved a little money upfront but the continued repair and time lost was not worth it. As always in the end keeping the old running is more expensive than starting over again.

If you are reading this, chances are, you aren’t using a MACII

Will the electronic upgrade impact your business?

 If your dryer does not have a digital thermostat you have very little control.  It would be like turning the heat on in your house and never adjusting the temperature, simply opening doors and windows to achieve a comfort level.  The new digital style controls are not just flashy lights, they have function to:

a. Control the heat by turning on and off panels (More efficient)
b. Warn the user if a heater goes out or another part is not functioning correctly.
c. Allow for precise belt times in the oven
d. React to outside elements, by adding intensity or removing intensity from the dryer.

e. High End Dryers


  1. Remember and store programs
  2. Graph shirt profiles
  3. Run an analysis on every job
  4. Accesses for account and maintenance from off-site 
  5. and loads more stuff.

Even Madonna understands the importance of new fabric

How many new fabrics are you encountering?
As the consumer markets push polyester, wicking and many other fabric styles, your dryer has to keep up. 

  1. Belt Speed --  Items require very distinct belt speeds, is your dryer capable of 30 seconds and 5 minutes?
  2. Do you have adequate forced air?  
    1. New inks and fabrics require air movement to achieve a proper cure without burning the substrate. 
    2. It is equivalent to convection air in a oven. 
    3. A substrate can stay in dryer longer with air movement and not such direct Infrared Hear.

The above is only intended as quick thought, as complicated as curing technology sounds it is very simple.  I am not going to argue with anyone that a Fiero will not get you from point A to point B.  Just about any commercial grade dryer with function and properly cure shirts, however, sometimes limping along with the old one costs you more time, reputation and headaches than biting the bullet and replacing it with a new one.

I just finished lacing up my roller blades, strapped on my Walkman and am hoping that dancing on the hood of Billy Idol's car won't scratch the killer Firebird paint job.