What tools should every screen shop have outside of the heavy equipment?
There are a few essentials and the good news is that none of them cost a lot, but can save a lot of time and money.
In the print shop, a donut probe and a heat-temp gun are both crucial for proper cure. Use the heat-temp gun for quick checks throughout a run of garments. A donut probe will help to map dryer temperatures throughout the chamber. This is especially important when using specialty inks such as discharge, high density, suede, etc. or when printing heat-sensitive garments.
In the screen room, I recommend a hygrometer and exposer calculator. Hygrometers measure humidity in screen-drying rooms. These inexpensive gadgets range from about $19 to $40 and will help emulsion dry properly in humidity levels less than 45 percent (32 percent is the “sweet spot” I look for). Exposure calculators take the guesswork out of exposure times that can change because of different variables such as mesh counts, emulsion types, coating methods, light sources and so on. You get these from your emulsion manufacturer or supplier; they cost about the same as most emulsions.
Finally, as with all tools and testing instruments, it’s important to know how to properly use and implement them into your production/quality control routines.