Screen Room Efficiency

Joe Clarke has spent the past 47 years in the lab and in the engineering department, in pre-press and on-press, as an R&D / technical researcher and as a manager of screen print production. Clarke has held executive positions as President of M&R Printing Equipment and as Vice-President at Wilflex [Poly One]. He has been granted a growing number of print-related patents, including one for High-Shear printing with Smilin'Jack - he is a member of the ASDPT, is an Associate Editor for NBM and an SGIA Fellow.

Clarke has presented hundreds of technical papers, written a couple books and published over 600 technical / management articles for which he has been awarded five Swormstedts; the international standard for excellence in technical writing.

Currently Joe Clarke is the President of CPR, a Chicago-based corporation which manufactures Synergy Inks including NexGen; environmentally & financially responsible T-Shirt inks. For more information on CPR, visit

Every technician at every trade show will always recommend to “buy the best raw materials you can find.” The purchasing agent, adversely, encourages shop decision makers to “buy the cheapest products they can find,” and every sales person claims their product will “solve all your problems; don’t worry about the price.”

Three mutually-excusive positions but it’s usually the purchasing agent that wins. Sadly, scrimping on raw materials is almost always horrible advice. So here, let’s take a look at how to evaluate cost versus value and find the middle ground for all three influencers.

Case study

Our case study is a one-auto shop who cycles their press at 400 pieces per hour, runs five-color work only, hits color in 10 minutes per screen (50 minutes total) and has a healthy 70 percent annual plant capacity.

Their cost per hour of operation (fiscal burden + direct labor) is a typical $300. We got them to run a range of run lengths, as few as 100 pieces per order and as many as 10,000 pieces. Every run length was printed with core raw materials both in the trash and treasure category—that is, the cheapest products on the market and those with the highest price tag.