press checklist

Choosing the Best Screen Printing Press

Bruce Ackerman is the founder and CEO of Printavo, a business he started in 2012 after growing a print shop in college.  Since that time, Printavo has grown to help shops all over the world get organized and streamlined. He previously held a position as the head of design for Avant. Ackerman also produces content for Printavo's blog, which covers topics of shop management and efficiency. You can contact Ackerman at

Searching through forums, Facebook, and print groups, the question “I’m thinking about buying an auto, what brand should I go with, " queues the pages of threads arguing about brand loyalty with hundreds of different opinions, yet there's still no RIGHT answer. 

Important note: All printing businesses are not created equal. 

The way one business is run compared to another, its employees, its clientele, its niche, AND the equipment will be different. This is perfectly OK. 

In a nutshell, if an equipment manufacturer is part of the big three or four manufacturers in the game, you will most likely be doing just fine when choosing a press. As far as technology goes, a few companies might have a slight advantage to some others. If they have a real presence in the industry and are seen at the large trade shows, you will be fine. Nonetheless, you can probably find a mixed bag of experiences with any given manufacturer. 

Let’s talk about some key factors to consider when making that big purchase:

Customer Service

There's a learning curve when buying your first big piece of equipment, and things will go wrong. When this happens, maintenance is necessary. If you think presses don’t break down, think again. How accessible is the support team? Do they have the parts I need? Will they check-in regularly in person? Keep these questions in mind when exploring different brands. 

Ease of Use

Newer equipment should be user-friendly and more efficient. Make sure that your shop is technologically equipped for changes. While a great registration system seems like a smart buy, a direct-to-screen machine might also be something to consider. Adding on new equipment to get your shop running at its full potential is great, but be sure it's ready for the integration.

Trusted Experience

Looking at new, shiny equipment is exciting, but don't let that, on its own, be the reason you want to purchase it. Take the time to analyze the equipment's advancements from previous editions and its current technology. 

Important note: Don’t be a guinea pig, but don’t fall behind when new models come out. 


Are you remaining financially responsible? Don’t lease the Rolls-Royce because it seems like a good idea, and don't forget about buying used. Whether financing, buying outright, or buying used, make sure you go in with a plan to pay for it.


Without listing any brand names, ask other shops what equipment they use and how long it's been running. If someone has been using a press for 20 years, the life expectancy of that brand is pretty good. Think longevity when making an investment this large.