Before you buy your next screen printing equipment – watch this video about screen printing's hidden gem: the CTS machine! “If you’ve got enough volume to automate the screen printing process, you’ve got enough volume to automate the screen making process," Graphic Elephants’ Lon Winters explains. Going from film outputs and your trusted Epson inkjet printer is a big step – so why is computer-to-screen technology such a hidden gem? “Basically, automating a few things ‘over in the corner’ isn’t as exciting as a new press,” says Matt Marcotte from Printavo.
“If you’re doing just 25 screens a day, it’s still worth it,” adds Lon. CTS manufacturers are conservative with their estimates about the return-on-investment for their machines. “Aggressively forward-thinking shop owners can make sense of [computer-to-screen] if they buy into the intangible benefits.” It’s hard enough to tell shop owners that their registration times will likely be cut in half – they just don’t believe it. It’s another ballgame to explain that a modest $35,000 machine could get a return-on-investment faster than virtually any other piece of screen printing equipment.
CTS machines let screen print shops print more jobs. Lon urges shops to think about the bigger picture than how fast their press can print shirts: “We’re still stuck with how fast the press goes round and round. It was all about 900 pieces an hour on the press. Well that doesn’t matter when your runs are 6 pieces on average!” Getting more jobs through your shop means more revenue and more profit – and CTS setups are the simplest way to be able to print more individual jobs.
“If you can cut your setup time, that means if your average runs are 100 pieces and you expect 10 per day – you only need to find a few minutes to be able to get 11 jobs out. Then it easily becomes 12 jobs. So if you start managing to the number of jobs instead of the number of pieces, your business can grow,” Lon explains.
Lon, Matt, and Bruce dive further into exactly how to think about CTS, whether lasers will take over the computer-to-screen game, wax vs. ink machines, and even what “ST” stands for in M&R’s i-Image ST.