Why is there waste in the silk-screen printing process?

Why is there waste in the silk-screen printing process?
article writer
by Keith McCauley
September 8, 2020, Updated October 28, 2022

Today is a good day to order some bottles, you said as you sprung out of bed and marched dutifully to the bathroom this morning. Why, I can't foresee any changes in that plan whatsoever, you proclaimed while awkwardly spitting toothpaste foam as you brushed your teeth. They'll look amazing with my product in them, you yell between songs in the shower. They'll be decorated beautifully, you announce as you sit down at your desk.

In no time at all, you're dialing your favorite supplier of containers and packaging (thanks, we're happy to be your favorite!). I need 1000 of your finest 16oz bottles, you proudly pronounce into the phone.

Wonderful, we tell you. Will you need any kind of decoration on those? Would you prefer labels or silk-screen printing?

Silk-screen printing. I love its high-quality looks, you say.

In that case, for a one color print you may want to order twenty more bottles.

The sky grows dark and birds stop chirping. The world itself seems to slow. What? you ask Why do I need to order more than I asked?

Then comes the dreaded answer, In case of waste. [Cue lightning crash and dramatic music stab!]

The idea of waste

You don't like the idea of waste, and you're not alone. No one likes the idea of something being wasted. But let's get real for a minute. Waste is everywhere and surprisingly we have to be okay with that. Your body doesn't use 100% of what you eat. The vehicle you drive will never be completely efficient. And those post-it notes affixed to your computer monitor could always fit more scribbles. Waste is part of any process. It's our job to see that waste is minimized, and it's entirely possible there will not be any waste in your silk-screened containers. But there are good reasons that you'll want to plan for up to 2% per color of your silk-screened bottles to possibly not make it.

Theory vs. Practice

The design has been approved; the bottles are at the shop and the print machine is set up perfectly. Everything looks good. You print the first bottle the print machine bleeds too much ink onto the bottle. Or maybe a roller got stuck and now the jar only has part of a decent logo. Or maybe on the second pass (when we print the second color), registration was misaligned and now the whole thing is off center. No matter what went wrong I think this is something everyone can relate to. Life happens, and printing is no exception.

Why we prepare for waste

Ultimately when you get your product batches ready to go we know you're planning on those 1000 bottles, jars, jugs, pails, or whatever to be ready to fill. You want all of them, not 1000 less 2%, 4% or even 6%. Waste is a part of life, and while we try to avoid it as much as we can, it will inevitably rear its head. Take it from our mistakes; you'll be glad your batches have a home so they, in turn, don't go to waste.