The Truth Exposed: M&R Vs Cheap from afar

 

Choose your destiny

A wide choice of equipment is a major advantage for us UK screen printers – we’re close to the EU mainland and have strong shipping connections around the globe, the world is our oyster.

The modern screen printer has a lot of choice when it comes to equipment; an M&R Sportsman, an Adelco dryer and a Natgraph exposure unit can all work harmoniously together in a printshop.

Buyer beware, it’s not difficult to be marketed to unethically, eBay cowboys can flog dodgy units from unknown brands and get away with it without much repercussion. It’s not a story we’re unfamiliar with unfortunately, the lack of accountability (and traceability) of these units and their vendors make specification almost as accurate as throwing a dart at a board.

What to look for

An informed choice is going to feed your passion more; it’s a chance to flex your expertise and avoid being ripped off in the process – here are some of the things we look for in a quality Exposure Unit.

A good light-source is number one. Moving on leaps and bounds from halogen technology of yesteryear and the fad of metal halide lamps, high-output UV LEDs are without a doubt where the industry is headed; they’re cheaper, last longer and expose screens faster than ever.


The Starlight will be able to expose photopolymer emulsions in as little as 3-5 seconds, how can it do this?

This M&R Starlight 2331, and its eBay counterpart, boasts UV LED bulbs – a big box ticked, but are all LEDs created equal?

These bulbs will determine more than you might think; exposure time, electricity used, quality of exposure. The secret is in the dense matrix of LED bulbs inside the Starlight, eBay counterparts will typically have around 100-200 bulbs, the Starlight has 1200

Here you can see just how many high-output UV LEDs are packed into the Starlight, this intense grid ensures a thorough, even exposure through your design. Cheaper matrixes will have large variations in intensity of light which produce a ‘wavy’ pattern of unexposed emulsion, or may not expose at all!

There are countless benefits to using a premium, branded machine over a chancing shipment from Shenzhen are innumerable – this unit in particular is capable of exposing around 100 screens an hour, each exposure as perfect as the last.

It’s here the value of an even intensity is tested – and where eBay tatt crumbles!



 

 

 

 

 

Pushing buttons vs pulling squeegees

Foreword by Dave Roper

 

I have been asked this question hundreds of times, it’s a big question that’s on every printer’s mind – while there’s no magic one-size-fits-all formula or answer, if you are answering ‘yes’ to any of the following, it’s probably time to look at auto-printing in your shop:

  • Are you letting your customers down on delivery dates?
  • Not enough hours in the day and printing weekends to catch up?
  • You dread the enquiry for 500 shirts in 6 colours?
  • Inconsistent prints across the print day?
  • Can’t compete in the open market with other printers?

What do I need to know?

So, you meet the criteria and you recognize that you can’t be pulling squeegees by hand for the rest of your life …so what’s next? What do I need as well as the shiny new blue auto? The other stuff:

  • Space! You will need at least 1000 square feet of ground level floor for a 6-colour auto, more colours demand more space for your press, don’t underestimate this one, when you are producing twice as much, you need space for incoming and outgoing stock
  • A decent three phase compressor with chiller unit, all autos need a good one – don’t skimp here.
  • Flash cure units for the auto (3 phase)
  • A dryer that can keep up with your new auto (3 phase)
  • Also take a look at your screen room, you will be printing twice as quick, so you will burn twice as many screens, and waiting 10 mins for a screen to expose …isn’t going to cut it, the latest LED exposure units burn a screen in under a minute from start to finish.

Can I afford it?

A new 8-colour auto with a flash cure, compressor and an electric dryer, installed will cost you around £40k, and believe me, I don’t have £40k in my bank account at the moment, so how do competitor printers afford these machines? Let’s look at this in a different way – not all debt is bad debt and 90% of the autos we sell are on finance, so let’s look at the figures:

 

A financed auto of £40,000, paid over 5 yrs. (60 months) would cost you around £789 a month; £183 a week or £37 a day…

So for £37 a day you’re buying:

  • Twice as much production capability as a manual
  • Consistency across your prints – the first print is the same as the last
  • No fatigue, pushing buttons is a lot easier than pulling squeegees…FACT
  • And de-skilling the job, its easier and faster to print on an auto, so you can afford that printer you have dreamed about – in turn freeing up your most valuable asset, time.

“Have time to work on your company, not in it”
– a wise man, long, long ago.