Flat Screen Machines: A Complete Guide

Whether you are in the textile industry or you manufacture toys, flat screen printing machines can serve a wide variety of purposes, making them perfect for industrial operators who need to produce printed goods in bulk without sacrificing on quality. 

This guide will take you through everything you need to know about these versatile machines, explaining the mechanics, the different types available, and the advantages of using automatic variants. 

So without further ado, let’s get started! 

What are Flat Screen Printing Machines?

Flat screen printing machines are one of the most commonly used screen printing machines used on the planet. They are used to transfer ink onto a flat substrate surface rather than a rounded one (such as is the case for cylindrical screen printing machines). Once the item to be printed is in place, the machine uses a squeegee to press the ink through the print to leave the design on the piece placed on the flatbed screen printing machine.

Flat screen printing goes back thousands of years, with the first recognizable forms appearing in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). However, with the onset of technology, flat screen printing machines have brought this ancient process into the twenty-first century by taking advantage of automated design and programming capabilities.

Which Industries Use Flat Screen Printing Machines?

Since most objects are easily laid flat for printing purposes, flat screen printing machines are used in a wide variety of ways throughout multiple industries. Here are just a few examples of how flat screen printing machines are used today:

  • Textile Industry (clothing, fabrics, bags)  
  • Automotive Industry (dashboard, speedometers, tachometers)
  • Banking Industry (credit cards, debit cards, business cards)
  • Toy Industry (souvenirs, toys, gifts)
  • Switches Industry (membrane switches, appliance control switches)
  • Stationary Industry (rulers, protractors, paper designs)
  • Glass Industry (solar panels, tableware, window glass)
  • Medical Industry (medical parts, medical tools)

As you can see, the possible applications of flat screen printing machines are enormous. Since many objects are capable of lying on a flat surface, printing in this way is both hugely economical and beneficial. In the textile industry, in particular, these types of machines can get through hundreds of pieces every hour.

What are the Different Types of Flat Screen Printing Machines?

Flat screen printing machines can be manual, semi-automatic, or fully automatic (more on this later). However, the differences don’t end there. Electric flat screen printing machines use motors to drive the frame up and down, while simultaneously powering the print head squeegee left and right.

Others flat screen printing machines are pneumatically driven, instead of electronically. These types of devices are better suited to small print runs, whereas electronically-operated flat screen printing machines can handle larger piece sizes and workloads.

Lastly, for higher volume and fast processing requirements, there are flat screen printing machines that work by using a rotary index worktable. The continuously-moving rotary index table allows the device to get through a much higher output than standard machines, with fully-automatic rotary indexed machines producing as many as 45 pieces per minute.

Automatic vs. Semi-Automatic Flat Screen Printing Machines

While manual flat screen printing machines are available, most companies use at least a semi-automatic machine to keep up with the demands of producing items in large quantities.

However, the disadvantage of using a semi-automatic machine is that operators have to continuously return to the device to add new pieces, line up the printing press and squeegee, and collect finished items. For larger runs, this can become quite time-consuming, and it opens up the possibility of the same products having slightly different print alignment, increasing the number of unusable pieces due to human error.

For large screen printing runs, automatic flat screen printing machines are unrivaled. Firstly, the primary advantage of using a machine of this nature is the output volume. With speeds of up to 45 pieces per minute, automatic flat screen printing machines can easily churn out 3000 – 5000 pieces per day.

What’s more, with precision printing heads, every single piece will come out precisely the same. There’s no need to discard products because of printing errors. Automatic machines are also cheaper to run once set up since there are lower labor costs and hardly any physical labor required during the process (they only require set up and changeovers in between runs).

Lastly, the speed of an automatic flat screen printing machine allows for shorter production times, which is crucial for many companies tied to strict deadlines. An automatic machine can take a little as a few hours to produce the same amount of pieces that a semi-automatic machine produces in a day.

Why It’s Not a Good Idea to Buy a Flat Screen Printing Machine Second Hand

There’s no escaping the fact that flat screen printing machine represents a substantial investment, even for larger companies. Many look to make savings on securing a flat screen printing machine by purchasing a used machine, instead of a brand new one. However, there are several issues with this approach.

First of all, printing machines have a lot of moving parts with a predetermined shelf life. If you source one that’s several years old, you may have to spend thousands more replacing the necessary components to get the machine to function as it should. If you can’t afford to do so, you could end up with shoddy prints, meaning you’ve wasted your money.

Furthermore, used machines come without any warranty or guarantee. You could buy a machine that breaks down with a few weeks of purchase, leaving you high and dry. When you purchase new machines, they come with extensive warranties and guarantees which protect your business should a flat screen printing machine let you down.

For instance, here at Once Tech, we provide an 18-month warranty with technicians on hand should anything go wrong. There’s also online support available seven days a week, giving you total peace of mind. These are the kind of services that are sorely lacking when you buy a printing machine second-hand. It doesn’t make sense to try and save money now when an old machine is going to cost you a lot more later down the line.

How Much Does a Flat Screen Printing Machine Cost?

There are so many variations of flat screen printing machines that it’s challenging to provide an accurate cost. Automatic screen printing machines cost more than semi-automatic printing machines, for example. Other factors also have a bearing on the price, such as whether a machine is electrically or pneumatically operated.

Then you have to take into account that you may want to make customizations to your machine. For instance, you may want to add a loading and unloading robot to improve the output on your rotary indexed flat screen printing machine. Doing so is going to increase the overall cost, but increase the functionality. It’s a balance that you’ll have to strike against your needs.

Conclusion

So there you have it, a complete guide to flat screen printing machines. You now know what flat screen printing machines are, how they’re used, the differences between each type of device, the advantages of going automatic, and what influences the overall cost.

Here at Once Tech, we pride ourselves on creating high-quality machines delivered to your exact specifications. Whether you are in the automotive industry, or the stationary industry, we can produce precisely what you are looking for. Better still, with over ten years of exporting experience, you can rely on us to safely transport your machine to wherever you are located in the world.

If you are ready to talk to us about buying a flat screen printing machine, then don’t hesitate to contact our team today to inquire about a price!  

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