Printhead Drive Mechanisms Introduction

What are the differences between the drive mechanisms on automatic textile screen presses? How will this information benefit me when I am considering purchasing an automatic textile screen printing press?

Pneumatic (Air)

Pneumatic drive presses are fairly simple mechanisms of operation. They are relatively inexpensive to design and manufacture. If cost is the primary factor for your purchase, an air operated system will be a good starting point. Pneumatics have been in use for years and are proven systems which are durable and easy to maintain. When problems do arise, troubleshooting and repair are very straight forward.

Pneumatic systems have the tendency to start slow and then speed up as the air cylinder is filled. When trying to hold fine detail (as with process color printing) may result in registration issues due to flucuations in air pressure. Also, repeatability can be a concern due to the lack of printing stroke consistency which is determined by the available air pressure; however, many presses utilize pneumatic drive systems.

Servo (Electric)

Drive systems utilizing servo motors are more complex mechanisms which use more moving parts when compared to pneumatic systems. If speed and quality are of concern, a servo driven system is a good starting point. These systems are becoming a standard choice on high-end equipment offered by many press manufacturers. Repairs can be more challenging but can be overcome given adequate spare parts being kept in inventory.

Servo drives cost more but the cost is often offset by the accuracy of printing achieved. Travel indicators allow press operators to set the print stroke to the exact speed and travel distance for the job being printed which may increase print speeds.