Screen Printing with Wide format Printer.
If you are now doing screen printing you can use wide format inkjet printers for two reasons: first, to make your screen printing masters with a wide format printer, or second, to add wide format digital printing to your services in order to keep your clients from going off to the competition. Also consider upgrading to wide format digital printing to escape the potential cancer rate from breathing the venomous fumes from screen printing. I can still remember my first day attending the SGIA or ISA trade shows, the headache from the screen printing fumes. Of course the fumes from giant solvent ink printers are even more an assault on the environment but skip solvent ink printers and use water based inkjet printers.
If you are currently seeing your clients wander off to competition who have inkjet printers, then you need to enter the world of digital imaging. Any graduate of a local community college can train your staff on how to use Adobe Photoshop and all the digital software (though you may already know the basics). You can learn to use the RIP software in a few days. After all, if your competition learned it surely you and your crew can also.
Just don't let any inkjet printer sales rep talk you into considering inkjet printers as a total replacement. Coated inkjet media and inks are still overpriced. Any printer using Epson piezo printheads will be slow, too slow for mass production of more than a few copies. Any printer using Xaar or any other piezo printheads will be fast enough but will have banding and other noticeable defects if you view them closely. At present the fastest inkjet printer that simultaneously offers top quality would be the with thermal printheads such as ColorSpan, then the Hewlett-Packard DesignJet 5000. If you don't need true photo-realism then the Encad 850 is okay, though has slightly grainy ink dot structure in the highlights and areas of solid light color.
To make your screen masters you need a really black black. Some printers simply don't produce good blacks, probably because some RIP software creates black from CMY not from K, so avoid those RIPs. Surely somewhere else in your city will be another screen printer who is already using masters from an inkjet printer, so you can ask them, or ask your trade association. Trade magazines can sometimes help though tend primarily to reproduce manufacturer's advertising claims, which is precisely what you seek to avoid.
FLAAR is establishing a new facility at a state university. There we will be able to devote more staff to questions related to the orderly transition from screen printing to inkjet printing.
Most recently updated August 02, 2001.