The Importance of an Organized Shop
Every decoration business has a different setup and workspace. However, every shop has the need to properly organize their production space so that orders flow as smoothly as possible in and out the door. Custom printing and embroidery businesses vary greatly in size as far as production space and labor. Most mom and pop shops start their business out of their garage, basement, or even a spare bedroom. Whereas some printing shops have a 10,000 square foot warehouse. Each type of production location comes with its own set of hurdles to overcome and often takes some problem solving skills. Electricity, running water, temperature and humidity control are just a few factors that typically have to be addressed in every production space. Organization and temperature/humidity controlling a shop will affect the production speed for orders and thus affect the bottom line of the business. So making sure that your shop is set up ideally for your employees will make them happier, and save/make you more money.
The Production Space
The production space of a screen printing shop is where all of the primary equipment (presses, conveyor & flash dryers) is stored. Each shop has a different amount of presses, dryers, and amount of space to work. So, the way production space is organized includes many factors to consider. The first factor is where the electricity and/or natural gas is located in the production area. Conveyor dryers take up a lot of power and typically need to be wired directly into an electrical panel or run off of natural gas and thus have to be located near a gas line. While the location of power dictates where equipment will be located, it is common to have to hire an electrician or HVAC company to help potentially relocate your source of power so that your production space can be better organized. However, at the end of the day most equipment is going to be lined up the same way. The conveyor dryer is located next to the take-off location of the printing press with the flash dryer being located where a station/screen is located on the press. It is common for multiple presses to feed one conveyor dryer. So, sometimes a shop will locate a press on either side of a conveyor dryer that can cure products from two presses the same time.
Screen printing shops typically must have multiple rooms in order for everything to flow smoothly. One of the most important parts of a screen printing shop is the darkroom, also referred to as the screen room. The darkroom is where screens are: coated with emulsion, exposed using an exposure unit, and stored to keep them clean and away from UV light. Screen printing revolves around / all starts with making screens (stencils), and a darkroom that is not properly setup or has the right conditions can lead to problems when it comes to preparing screens for printing. A darkroom must not have any UV light coming into the room to prevent unexposed coated screens from becoming exposed. The room also must be temperature and humidity controlled as too much temperature or humidity can lead to many different types of problems. It’s a good idea to locate a dehumidifier in your darkroom to keep the screens as dry as possible.
The washout room is where screens are either washed out to create a stencil ready for printing or to reclaim a screen and get it ready to be re-coated with emulsion. The washout room is sometimes located in the same area as the darkroom, but is not optimal because of how much water and humidity is produced from cleaning screens. The room must have running water and a drainage solution of some kind. The room itself typically contains a large industrial sink and power washer at minimum. Larger shops will often have an air compressor, dip tanks, and other tools/equipment for making cleaning screens easier. Cleaning screens is typically the least fun part of the entire printing process and thus a well organized washout room can make the situation better for the person in charge of screens.