We at Texsource often get asked when is the right time to replace or upgrade a piece of screen printing equipment. With proper maintenance and upkeep, you should be able to maintain your current equipment for a long lifespan.
Just like your car, your screen printing press, dryer, exposure unit and other equipment needs to be maintained to ensure a long and trouble free life. For most any shop, downtime means losses; loss of revenue and productivity. But too many shops neglect their equipment until disaster strikes, while the shop that takes time for regular upkeep of their screen printing equipment is in a much better position to keep the workflow going.
Proper maintenance is not hard. For your screen printing press, ensure that you regularly clean the press of lint buildup. Occasionally oil or lightly grease any moving parts or pivot points. Check the press for any loose hardware and tighten properly. Having loose hardware can cause undue wear to joints that can lead to costly replacement parts. If you have an automatic press, consult the manufacturer for any software upgrades or updates that can be done, check your wiring and hoses for any wear or leaks.
With a screen printing dryer or flash unit, you can often tell that maintenance may be needed by the unit no longer keeping accurate heat, or perhaps taking too long to heat up. If you are not keeping consistent heat in the chamber, then you could have problems with your heating element or elements or perhaps the electrical system. When you are running shirts through a dryer quickly it is more difficult for your screen printing dryer to maintain consistent heat, but with proper maintenance and upkeep you should be able to keep an efficient dryer for curing.
Exposure units can have bad or inconsistent bulbs. This is not as much of an issue with the newer LCD units, but if you are getting inconsistent burns then you may need replacement lamps or bulbs.
The build quality of most screen printing equipment these days is generally excellent, and most equipment can certainly withstand the abuse of day to day work in the shop, but to overlook proper cleaning and care of your equipment can lead to losses of time and money, and can be easily prevented.