I hope this blog finds you well and with the world starting to open up a crack, more optimistic! I have to start this week’s post with a disclaimer. If you had told me that one month ago I would be sitting here composing a blog, I would have coughed my wine out through my nose! I am way out of my comfort zone, but hang in here with me.
The other week I was discussing excess ink and all the areas of reclaim where waste ink rears its ugly head. There are four areas where excess ink loss can add up to a lot of lost revenue. I’ve noticed that most people think the reclaim process starts at the washout booth, dip tank, or machine. In reality, the press is where the money pit starts. Most reclaiming processes start like this: A printer is finished printing. It is time to remove the squeegee and flood bar or just the squeegee on a manual press. They will scrape the ink off these items ok, but there are tools available to clean off more.
The next step is pure screen printing creativity! Head over to the trash bucket, peel the tape loaded with ink and roll it right into the bucket. This makes removing ink from the screen a lot less messy and a whole lot easier, but again lost ink adds up to more costs. I have seen it, you have seen it and we have both done it.
The next way to lose even more excess ink is one that I have never understood and makes no logical sense to do. Whatever ink is left in the screen, get scraped right back into a perfectly clean, zero ink, image area. If you scrape the ink back into the image area, the lower the mesh count, the more ink you take to the washout booth, dip tank, or an automatic reclaim machine. I get a heap of troubling phone calls from people asking why there are ink stains in the image area. What you are seeing is not an ink stain; it is actually ink, and thick ink at that.
Yet another waste area is if excess ink is not recaptured at the press and the screen moves to the final step of reclaim, be that a washout booth, dip tank or machine. All the excess ink is just scraped off and placed in a bucket, with all the colors mixed together with no way of recapturing it. Now you also have to pay to get rid of it. So in reality it is excess ink that you paid for twice with zero value. Plus the particular time and effort that goes into this part of the reclaim process adds to the really expensive outcome.
All inks have a “yield” factor. How many widgets can I get out of a gallon of ink? By applying the yield factor at the start in the ink room and only using the amount of ink that is needed at the press, you are starting to create a series process controls which you can develop for any step of the entire printing process. I am sure you have process controls in place for exposure times, flash times, belt speeds, etc. Why not make them for the reclaim process? I know it takes time and money. So I found the money! Here goes: There is no fuzzy math involved in this. Let’s take a shop that reclaims thirty screens a day. You can scale this up or down to fit your size company. If you can recapture just one ounce of excess ink off each screen, the monetary return outweighs any labor costs. Note: Ink is sold by weight-sorry if you didn’t know that- Again, just one ounce: 30 screens a day X one ounce recaptured = 30 ounces per day X 5 days = 150 ounces X 50 weeks = Drum Roll!! 7500 ounces or 469 pounds of ink! With Whites coming in at 12 to 14 pounds a “gallon container” and most colors at 9 to 13(reds), taking the high end it comes to almost 35 gallons of waste ink per year. I will lowball the per “gallon” cost at $50.00 per “gallon” for a savings of $1750.00 per year!
Further, the added cost benefits that are free equal faster reclaim times, cleaner screens, and less reclaim products used in the process.
I will go down another rabbit hole next week and discuss the issue of pinholes: how we make them and how we fix them.
Written By: Frank Ventimiglia | Easiway Systems | Senior Regional Manager East Coast
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