Original Date: 04/24/2006
Revision Date: / /
Information : Silkscreen Process Improvements
Midwest Metal Products has initiated a number of innovative approaches toward making its silkscreen operation more efficient. The use of special dedicated setup jigs for high-volume parts has increased throughput and efficiency. Developing a method to mix custom colors in small quantities has reduced cost and wastage as well as the periodic long lead-times associated with ink suppliers.
Midwest Metal Products (MMP) operates a silkscreen print operation that supports customer printing requirements on metal cabinets and electronic enclosures of various types. MMP established goals for reducing setup time on frequently run parts, reducing throughput time without sacrificing quality and reducing costs of the silkscreen operation.
The first process improvement involved designing and building dedicated setup jigs for several of the high-volume metal part number items MMP builds. These dedicated setups reduced silkscreening time by positioning the component to be screened quickly and accurately under the corresponding screen. These setups increased throughput and accuracy of placement of the screens on the component to be silkscreened. Some of the dedicated setups efficiently combined two silkscreen jigs into one device. On one example part number, MMP used a permanent silkscreen setup and was able to increase throughput from 52 to 85 parts per hour. In another case MMP created a dedicated setup frame that accepted three screens to produce a three-color print, also increasing throughput.
Another successful cost-cutting initiative at MMP involves mixing ink colors in-house. MMP suppliers have a four- gallon minimum order on custom colors, while MMP needs only about one pint for a typical operation. MMP developed the ability to mix its own small-quantity custom colors in-house, reducing paint material costs and wasted material. MMP now has the ability to mix any Panatone color in either a gloss finish or a flat finish. Being able to mix custom colors also allows MMP to reduce ink material lead-time. Due to the small quantities of ink typically needed, MMP did not get ink supplier priority and at times suffered from lead-times of weeks versus days. Being able to mix custom colors has eliminated this problem, making this practice a solution for lower costs and reduced lead-times.
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