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Printing Numbers

Posted by Ryan Bolin - New Product Testing on 5/25/2013

For those of you who are actually brave enough to print numbers then hats off to you. Printing numbers can be one of the most difficult things in this industry if you don’t have the right equipment. That’s why in this blog I will explain a few ways to print numbers, their flaws and the one that I believe to be the most effective.


Numbering Stencils

Number stencil systems are really inexpensive (usually around 10cent each) but in my opinion not as user-friendly as you would think. The process consists of blocking out a square opening in a 60-110 mesh screen. This opening is based on the size numbers that you will be printing. The stencils will then adhere to the ink on the back of the screen and printing is ready to commence. Once printed, the stencil can then be discarded and you are ready to load your next set of numbers. This process is continued until all numbers have been printed with no adjustments between prints. What I have found to be the biggest challenge when using this process is making sure that each stencil is aligned properly. I’ve had numerous prints, single number and double, to not be crooked. Also, peeling the stencil after printing each number becomes a hassle. I usually end up with ink on my fingers, which then transfers to my garments. In all, there are to many “moving-parts” when using the number stencil system. Economical and easy-to-use? Not so much, but for someone that hardly ever prints numbers then stencils are the way to go.


Heat Transferred Vinyl Numbers

Using a heat press to get numbers onto a shirt is by far the easiest route to go. Number one reason, no ink > no mess. Some other advantages are that you have more font options and different style numbers that can be used. Also, the time it takes you to screen print a number vs. heat pressing a number is huge. Some of the downfalls to this process is excessive cost. Unless you decide to preorder the vinyl numbers, then you will need a vinyl plotter to cut them out, and on top of that your main investment, a heat press. Also, registration and numbers peeling pose a problem. All in all, taking this route is not that bad, having a heat press can lead to many other avenues of printing for your customers (sublimation for example).


DIGIT Numbering System by Vastex

The Vastex athletic numbering attachment, I would say, is the best all-around precise numbering printer there is. What makes this system so unique is its ability to turn any rear clamp press into a numbering machine. Simply slide the numbering rail into the print head, center it between your pallet, clamp it down and your ready to print. Very little registration problems with the aid of a sight rail an arrow attached and a detent rail that has half-round cutouts so that when the frame is slid from number to number it locks into place. Frames come in sizes from 31” to 47” with multiple numbers in sizes. Another feature included in this system is its ability to print multi color digits. A drawback to the system that I have found is that this attachment is a little heavy so if your manual press isn’t sturdy enough you may have to purchase extra springs.

In all, I am a fan of the Vastex number printer over the other two systems. Its simplicity and precise registration is so much easier to use. Even with all this being said though, I still hate printing numbers but they are a great bonus for screen printers to make a lot of extra money.

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