Intermittent Image Blurring

By intermittent image blurring, I am referring to an image that normally prints sharp and every once in a while, the edges will be blurred on a few prints and then seemingly correct itself, or the press operator will have to stop and clean the back of the screen and then the problem goes away for the rest of the day. The problem could be due to a number of the 547 variables of the screenprinting technologies, but if you have not found the answer among the known variables, I would like to introduce you to yet another variable – Vibration.

This morning in a telephone conversation with another screenprinting technologies consultant, while we were swapping road stories, I was reminded of this story and thought I would share it.

Decades ago, a friend who owned a blueprint company that used a large — 40-inch x 40-inch — process camera called me to ask if I could stop by and help him with a problem. Upon arrival, he explained that, although he had checked everything he could think of, he was faced with a waste factor of rejected camera shots several times a day, where the image would be blurred. Everything was tight on the camera and the vacuum was working well. He had a voltage regulator to take care of electrical brownouts, caused by intermittent decreases and increases of power.

As we stood there looking at the camera, I felt the floor vibrate. I was used to being in areas where there were mild earthquakes caused by fracking and had even been in a few major earthquakes with massive destruction and deaths, so I am aware of the feeling. I turned to my friend and asked him if he felt the floor vibrate. He gave me that funny look and said smiling said, “No!”

Knowing that the area was not prone to earthquakes occurring several times a day. I went outside and looked around. Just behind their building and probably no more than 20 feet from the building were the railroad tracks. It seems that everytime a train came down the tracks, the camera would vibrate and cause the image to be blurred.

Moving forward to a year ago, I was in a graphics screenprinting shop that had a similar problem on their M&R Saturn press. Every so often they would experience a blurred image on a few prints. When they asked me if I knew what could cause the problem, I only had to ask if there was a train track nearby.

You guessed it! It was right behind their building and the freight train would pass by on a daily basis. While the reason was correct, solving the problem is not so easy. They opted to simply listen for the train and cease printing for a few minutes. Sure it slowed production for a few minutes, but they avoided the waste and cleanup time.

There’s No Crying in Screenprinting


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Seriously, life is not fair, all is not fair in love and war and there is nothing fair about business. I know…this is a somewhat pessimistic view but there is more truth than fiction in the statement.

One of the emotional intelligence skills is emotional self-control. Those who lack it often have difficulty managing their emotional reactions to situations start complaining and may actually break down in tears. Complaining and crying are definitely a credibility killer. Learn to maintain your emotional self-control and earn more credibility.

When something goes wrong, and you fail to control the process, recognize that it is your fault – always. Rather than complain or cry – do what is necessary to correct the failure and learn from it.

This is a quote by Frank Vacanti, of the late Winterland Productions in San Francisco. The story goes that he had purchased a large number of frames from a manufacturer, who promised that if he didn’t like them he could return them. After they were delivered a representative from another frame manufacturer stopped by and made him a better deal. Frank called the first vendor and told her to come pick up the frames as he had decided to go with the competition. The representative started crying and this is what Frank supposedly said. The representative that got the final order told me the story a week later and I have never been able to forget it.

Change is Inevitable


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Change is inevitable in life. You can either resist it and potentially get run over by it, or you can choose to cooperate with it, adapt to it, and learn how to benefit from it. When you embrace change you will begin to see it as an opportunity for growth.” ~Jack Canfield

Change is inevitable. It happens whether you want it or not. One of the secrets of success is to learn to handle the changes we find coming our way. It is possible to learn to set our sail so that the winds of change blow us in the direction we choose rather than onto the rocks. It is better to initiate the correct changes ourselves.

Positive changes when you decide exactly what it is that we want to change. Knowing what you want is the first step in making significant changes to determine what changes you want to make. Next comes desire. All achievement, all progress, begins with desire. Unless you have a strong enough desire, you will never see the needed changes become a reality.

After we know what we desire to see happen in our life, we must then make a decision to change. Such a decision implies that we believe we really can change. Some people believe that they cannot change, but every person has the power to change. We all exercise a greater measure of control than we realize. We are where we are because of the changes that have already happened. If we don’t like where we are, we can create change.

Once you decide to make significant changes, you need a plan. Look ahead and let the end determine the beginning. Ask yourself where it is you want to end up. Once you know that, it is much easier to determine the steps you need to take to get there.

And, finally, take action on your plan by making the changes that will take you to where you want to be.

Get the Right Things Done


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People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.” ~Seneca

We are enduring a “time famine”unknown to previous generations. Faced with urgent work, urgent errands, urgent texts, urgent emails, and a slew of other supposedly urgent tasks, we’re increasingly squandering our finite lives on the urgent at the expense of the important. And it is making us miserable.

Ironically, much of the fault lies with innovations that promised more time. Email was supposed to replace tedious “snail” mail with the convenience of instant communication; instead, email fostered a culture of 24/7 availability. Facebook and other social media were supposed to streamline social time; instead, they hijack our brains with each dopamine-releasing “like,” sometimes causing addictions that lower long-term happiness and crowding out time that could otherwise be spent on more meaningful social activities.

The problem isn’t unique, a 2017 study confirmed that the time famine is international. Luckily, if you feel like you’ve lost control over your time, you can reclaim it. Quite simply, be more deliberate about how you spend your time.

Knowledge Over Experience

Knowledge Over Experience

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It should be obvious that knowledge is required to do anything well, however, every job offer posting lists a number of years of experience as being a requirement in getting hired. Or, the predominant statement made by job seekers is to extol the number of years of experience in a field.
But, what good are any number of years in performing a task, if the task is not done right? No amount of experience alone will assure that the job is done well unless the person has consistently improved each day. The acts of lateral thinking and the acquisition of knowledge are the most important traits a person can possess.

It is never too late to start your journey. If you are an employer, hire people and/or promote them on the basis of their knowledge and not on the number of years that they have been doing things incorrectly. If you are an employee, study your craft and improve your thinking process so that can you do a better job on the tasks that you are given.

Price Means Nothing


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The cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”  ~Oscar Wilde

Today, many of us confuse the meaning of the word “value” with the word “price”. If a job is not delivered on time, the work you produce has little or no value to the client. The fact is, nobody would buy any product or service – at whatever price it was sold at, from whatever business – if they didn’t believe it was going to be delivered in a timely fashion.  Price may be one thing, but delivery is everything.

Always assure that you meet your deadline for delivery.

Change What Isn’t Working


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Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

If we don’t change what isn’t working, we will continually have the same problems over and over again. We have all had the experience of realizing that something that was working is no longer providing the same results. This knowledge can come to a sudden realization or a nagging feeling of doubt that grows stronger, waking us up to the fact that something needs to change.

Some people have a tendency to act rashly and make sweeping changes before even understanding what the problem is. Other people fear change, so they live with the uncomfortable awareness that something needs to shift but won’t do anything about it.

Between these two extreme responses lies a middle ground that can help us more powerfully and gracefully change what isn’t working.

Keeping the Presses Running

A common question during the first few minutes of a phone call is, “How are things going?” I know that I am guilty of asking that question or something very similar as a starter point in conversations. Depending on the season, the answer varies from slow to busy, with statements like:

Did you notice that I picked up the phone on the first ring?

I am hoping things will pick up.


We are so busy that I had to bring in two additional full time employees, who I hope to keep.

We are working overtime to keep up with a flood of orders.

I usually follow the answers with a leading question that I hope will start a constructive conversation. If the shop is slow, I usually ask; “What are you doing to increase orders and order size? If the shop is busy, I usually ask, “How much of the work you are doing produces value to the bottom line?

I normally get an expected answer to the first in which the owner will say that his business is seasonal with ups and downs and things will turn around soon. To which I push, “Why do you not bring in a second product line that will sell better during your slow season so that you have consistency year round?”

The goal here is to keep the presses busy with work on a consistent basis in order to produce the expected year-end margins.

The answer the second usually brings an answer of, “What do you mean by value to the bottom line?” To which I explain that far too often much of the work during busy times is not about actual printing. If a shop is busy doing small orders, then they are spending more time producing stencils and reclaiming screens than printing the small orders. There is an old adage that states, “If the presses are not producing – the money ceases to flow!”

The goal in this instance is to spend more time printing than performing pre- or post-press work. This is far more effective to the bottom line.

What are you doing to keep your presses consistently busy printing work on which you earn the expected year-end margins?

Do You Do Samplers?

T-shirt BoxEvery once in a while, I see something that is a great idea that I want to share with others. This is one of those moments.

A screenprinter in the textile segment of the screenprinting technologies that I visited in Mexico City had a large number of boxes just inside of his office door. Each was about the size of a large book and had his logo and contact information on the top. While we were passing the first few moments getting to know each other, I asked about the boxes at his door.

He retrieved one of the boxes and handed it to me. Upon opening it, I found a screenprinted T-shirt neatly folded and sealed in a clear plastic bag. Under the shirt was a printed folder, again with his logo. Inside the folder was a full-color brochure on his company, three business cards, and forty pesos (about $2 USD). I quickly surmised that this was a promotional pack to be presented to potential clients. But, I was confounded by the forty pesos and had to ask why they were in the box.

He explained that everytime he leaves the office, he picks up what is needed to replace his dwindling supply in his car so that he always has a supply with him. As he goes about his day, he gives potential clients one of the boxes, which includes anyone who might be in the market for screenprinted apparel. That would include a bakery, a dentist, a restaurant, a coffee shop, and even the veterinarian when he dropped off his dog this morning for a checkup. He explained that he goes to a different restaurant for lunch daily. And he enjoys frequenting new coffee shops that are constantly springing up around the city. He usually gets at least one or two orders a week from the six sample boxes he gives away weekly.

I quickly did the math in my head and came up with a cost of perhaps $5.50 USD cost per box, including the $40 pesos. If he was getting 1.5 orders a week from an investment of $33, it was a very good deal.

And, then that $40 pesos came back into my thoughts and I had to ask, “Why is there $40 pesos in the box?”

He just smiled and said that is where he gets another order each week. He explained that everyone asks, “Why is there $40 pesos in the box?” to which he states, that is for you to keep for giving the extra two business cards to another person who might be able to use my services!

Like I said, it is a great idea! What better way to sell yourself, than by showing people what you can do for them, and by giving them something for nothing. A free T-shirt and $40 pesos in payment for what they would have likely done anyway. And, they have your brochure and contact information to boot.

The box in the photo came from XMT Printing in Shenzhen, China, where I was working with a client in the city, but I bet you can have them made locally if you check around.

Name: XMT Printing
Tel: 86-0755-27392200
Fax: 86-0755-27330502
Mobile: 15112664633,13554888331
Add: Building 6, First Zone, Cuigang Industrial Park, Fuyong Street Baoan District, Shenzhen City China, 518103