Ryonet Blog

Buy Nice or Buy Twice: Why Automated Is the Way to Go

OK, I’m aware that I might ruffle some feathers here, but I gotta put it out there. While operating a manual press is a true art form, the benefits of which can’t be discounted—if you want to scale as a screen printing business, you MUST invest in an automated press.

I know, I know, automated presses are an investment. I get it, because I’ve been there too. Heck, I started printing shirts in my mom’s kitchen, before upgrading to the garage! But there are lots of great options to buy, lease, or even rent a top-notch ROQ press with the option to purchase, upgrade or cancel via Ryonet’s unique rental program. So there’s really no reason to wait to switch from a manual to automatic—and incur the associated opportunity cost—if you plan to make a career of it.

Automating your printing process can not only help you deliver a more consistent product, it also gives you the ability to accept higher-volume jobs—keeping your press and bank account full, while also freeing your time to focus on business-building activities. The average automated press can produce 2-3X the amount of garments as a manual press with a single operator and can double that with 2-3 operators. Compared to the cost of hiring a full-time printer, a monthly payment on an entry-level automated press is approximately 50-70% of the overhead of an employee.

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge with an automated press, here are some items to look at:

Consistency Look for a proven micro-registration system or printhead registration; and parts that can stand the test of time or be replaced.
Versatility Give yourself more color choices if possible. When you start taking on more complex jobs, you’ll be glad to have that versatility.
Portability Choose a small form factor press as your first investment so that you can easily reconfigure your shop as it grows and expands.
Screen Sizes Get a press that can take larger screen sizes, providing more flexibility in the size of print you can do, as well as the screens you can use.
Platen/Pallet Compatibility Find a press with pallets and accessories that can fit other presses, so that you only have to make those purchases once.
Durability Buy a high-quality press with a solid reputation and warranty that can hold up to repeated use over time.
Carriage Make sure you have an electric print carriage for the highest consistency of results.
Air Features Look for air clamps and air control pressure that make setup and change-over of your equipment quick and easy.
Ease of Access Avoid big and bulky presses with bars and wires that make them hard to work with or around.
Station Quantity Find a press that gives you more stations, enabling you to create more consistent prints, faster, with spots that can be used as flash dryers and for cool down.

Of course, a press isn’t the only piece of equipment you’ll need to invest in as you grow. Check out our new eBook, Building Your Own Screen Printing Business, Part 3 :: Optimizing Your Process,for a detailed list of considerations when purchasing a flash dryer, conveyor dryer, or exposure unit.

My advice is, buy nice or buy twice, screen printers! Thirsty for more information? Visit Ryonet’s Education Center, where you’ll find tons of resources and classes that can keep you at the top of your game. Sign up for our newsletter below to be the first to know when the ebook pt.3 drops!

Thanks for reading,
Ryan Moor




  • Ryan,

    The majority of your customers are small to medium sizes manual printers. Everyone has to start somewhere and to think the average person could afford a $70,000 + automatic press off the bat is interesting to say the least. Gotta have to business and build your business in order to get the automatic. However I think going auto is a great choice when you can. Last thing you’d want is to get a bunch of presses / rentals shipped back to you that are still owed money on. I also think its a different business strategy for renting out the ROQS. I’ve never heard of any company doing that. Best, -Garrett Kaule

  • I could be wrong about the size of your customers but I see them everywhere, small garage printers or hobbyists and then you have some serious heavy hitters using the ROQS. I’ve heard plenty of people state they wish they would’ve bought an automatic from the start. We wished the same, but honestly couldn’t afford one at the time. As soon as you are ready to go auto I say go for it. Just my .2 cents. I think I made that much screen printing yesterday 😀 -GK

  • Travel with it? We’re talking about a 10ft+ diameter, 4000lb machine – not a heat press? Should I pack up my automatic and go to work in a gas station parking lot next to the guy selling watermelons?

    • Hey if John Weiss can do it, maybe you can to it! Haha we meant to say it’s better for moving around your shop. Thanks for catching! 🙂

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