When picking a press there is much more to consider then just how much it costs, what brand it is, tabletop or self-standing and how many colors and stations is it going to have. When you are press shopping I think one of the most important things to consider is what you are going to be printing most of the time because based on that you can decide if you are going to need 4 colors 2 stations or just need a 1 color 1 station press.
So lets cover terms of a printing press. We have "color", "station", "micros", "table top" and "self standing." When you are talking about a press and hear the term “color” that is referring to the amount of arms the press has to hold your screens and each screen is normally its own color. "Station" will be the area that is going to hold your shirt, "micros" is normally only going to be on a higher end press and is a system which will help you align fine detail on your print jobs using knobs and levers on your press. The last two terms are straight forward, "table top" is going to be a press you will mount to a table top or anything similar and "self standing" will mean the press will not need to be mounted to anything. These normally take up a hell of a lot more room. Observe!
Ok now that you know that lets think, how many colors do you think the majority of your jobs are? One, two maybe three colors? While many times forums and people in general will tell you a 6 color 4 station is the way to go that may not be the case for everyone.
Also check this out, you have a 6 color press and you think you’re all big bad and cool right. Aint no thang homie, now I can do 6 color job if someone orders it. Ok cool guy I want a 6 color print on a black shirt. Design is going to be red, blue, yellow, orange, green and pink. For this print to come out nice and vibrant you are going to need a 7 color press in order to give the print an under base, so now what hot shot?
Same thing with a 4 color press, when you’re going to print on a dark garment that 4 color press becomes a 3 color press since you “should” add an under base.
There are a couple ways around this issue. You can use high opaque inks which will give you a nice bright color and often this option will allow you to avoid laying down a base. Another thing you can do is learn how to use dischargeable inks which will be a higher learning curve but you will get the same vibrant look as the high opaque inks that will not require a base.
Another super important thing to consider is how many stations you need or want. 1 station is ok for starting off or small operations that aren't doing large volume but if you are going to be going in full production mode you are going to want more stations to help with more volume. 1 station means you can print 1 shirt at a time 6 stations means you can be working on 6 shirts at a time. Keep in mind a 1 station press is going to be much more compact than something that has 6.
Now that you figured out how many colors and stations you want your press to have, where are you planning on putting it? Maybe it will go in your spare bedroom, or maybe it can go in your garage. Now it's time to determine how much room you have to work with. Do you have the space to get a self standing press or would getting a press you can fix to a table be more efficient for you?
There are so many variables to think of. I personally think Vastex are good presses for the time Ive had to mess around with them but I personally print with a Riley 300 and absolutely love it. To be honest any press will generally do the same quality job, most likely your decision will come down to price if you are buying an american made press.
Hopefully this gave you a clearer understanding on how you should select your press based on what you actually need vs what others say you should get or upgrade too.
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