Vidalia&8217;s Monogram Designs unveils new machine for screen printing

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2006

Monogram Designs just made a

purchase that will put it on the cutting edge of its business.

With its new automated screen-printing machine, the Vidalia business has taken a big leap forward in its ability to make high-quality designs on T-shirts at greater volume. Owners Lee and Billy Staggs said it is the only machine of its type in the area.

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&8220;The other day we were doing an order of shirts and I did about 200 (on the automated machine) while he did 12 over there (on the manual machine),&8221; Lee said.

In the screen printing process, a shirt is put onto a flat station. On the automated machine, a shirt is placed on a flat board. Eight boards are on spokes that rotate around the machine. At each of six stations, a different color is applied through screens to make the desired design. The other two stations are for putting shirts on and taking shirts off.

The manual machine works in much the same way, but the colored ink must be pushed through screens by hand, an arduous task. On the automated machine, brushes push the ink through after the machine rotates.

The result is a better product because the machine aligns the images better and pushes the same amount of ink through each time.

&8220;On a dark shirt, you have to really push it through on the manual and you get tired,&8221; Lee said. &8220;As you get tired, the amount of ink you&8217;re pushing through is different. The quality isn&8217;t the same.&8221;

The automated machine, mady by M&R, can print about 40 dozen shirts and hour. On the manual machine, Lee said he can two or three dozen an hour.

&8220;When we went to Houston to see the machine before we bought it, I couldn&8217;t believe they could put shirts on it fast enough to keep up with it,&8221; Lee said.

And the machine doesn&8217;t have the same problems one might have with human employees, Lee said.

&8220;I tell people (the machine is) a great employee. The machine never comes in late for work. It never complains,&8221; Lee said. &8220;You just have to put oil and grease in it and it&8217;s ready to roll.&8221;

Not that the machine came cheap. The price tag was $25,000, compared to the $3,000-5,000 a manual machine might run. But Billy said they look at the cost as an investment in the future.

&8220;We always try to stay up and get the latest technology. There&8217;s only so much you can do with a manual machine,&8221; Billy said. &8220;This

is what the industry is using now to concert T-shirts and things like that.&8221;