Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The right machine for the task and for your shop.

Bigger is better, right? 

ElectraPrint™ Stealth Series
In this SuperSized economic model it does appear that most companies believe this.  Growth and production is supposed to involve bigger and faster machinery.  We are in the machinery business and many people would think that Brown is only concerned with the ElectraPrint automatic and the FireFly big machinery projects.

Well, that is a qualified NO.

Yes, we are really loving our new FireFly™.  Yes, the ElectraPrint is a mainstay in our product line.  Yes, we sell and service big machines.  

However, how did most of these printers get to the production level that needed these higher volume machines?  They did it with manual Brown equipment.  Every day we talk with new printing entrepreneurs and we go over their options.  Many of these businesses are not going for large, high volume.  Most of these conversations concern community printing of short run jobs.  This is a major market all over the world.

So just what kind of equipment can make one of these smaller scale ventures profitable?  The conversation returns to the basics.  How much do you want to produce?  How much space is available?  What is the budget?  If the answers to these questions are considered thoroughly, small community printers can make a nice profit.

The oven is the start.

AirPony Dryer
Yes, most people want to worry about the printer.  However, the printer does not determine the rate of your production, your space requirement or your big cost.  The curing system is the key to all of those concerns.  Large scale or small, the production rate of the oven is the driver to profitable production.

Most community printers are running jobs of 36 - 100 pieces.  Many of these businesses only want to produce 2-3 of these jobs daily.  Often, there are other production areas that have to be considered in the daily goals.  Keeping that goal in mind, small ovens that produce 60 - 150 per hour are the right fit.  They are small, yes, but they cure shirts as well as the larger units.  Time and temperature are the same.  320°F and 60 seconds.  Small chambers only mean fewer pieces per hour.

Then the printer.

MidLine Printer
This is really a space, budget and gadgets issue.  Similar to buying a car, if you want more you pay more and they take up more space.  An inexpensive car will get you down the road.  However, ones with air conditioning and cruise control are nicer to ride in.

So when looking for a t-shirt printing machine keep your budget soundly in mind.  However, don't go so low in price that you end up with a lightweight press.  These may not need all the gadgets, but they need to be solid in their construction because they take a beating every day.

All the other stuff.

Yes, these is other stuff.  Yes, the new LED exposure units are cool.  They are also more expensive.  The older technology has worked well for a lot of years.  Stay in your budget.
Florence Black-lite

Flash cure units and transfer machines are essentials.  However, mid to low priced units certainly get the job done.

Don't forget a sink.  This part may sound like an extravagance, but containing water in a small space is essential.  Inexpensive industrial sinks are worth the investment.  

So how much should you invest in machinery?


Shops prices can range from $5000 up to $500,000.  If the shop is less than $5000, then production is very limited and this is really a hobby.  Which is a good side job money maker as well.  

Many people will shake their heads that $5000 will buy a productive shop.  But it will.  As long as you are planning on short run, quick turn jobs then this is a profitable set-up.

If you are looking at starting a community printing operation, then consider all your options.  Bigger is not necessarily better.  Smaller may suit your plans and Brown has the solution you are looking for.