Local T-shirt designer and custom screen printer Buckle Tree has expanded
with the acquisition of a new automated screen printer. The new equipment
company to increase production, improve quality, and expand creative
The new eight-station printer handles up to eight colors and can crank out
T-shirts at a rate of
one shirt every six seconds at top speeds. Buckle Tree owner Fred Lange
says the printer will
not only improve efficiency, but also allows the company to enter yet
another market: the
quick print business.
The machine, manufactured in St. Louis, Mo.,
lets one person oversee the printing process through the use of computer assisted technology.
Lange says what was once a job for a crew of four or five people can now
be whittled down to a two-person operation.
The veteran rally T-shirt printer says the new system also assures better
especially when compared to the old hand-operated equipment. "Normally
we do shirts in
three to five colors, depending on the customer," he said. "But now
we can do up to eight
colors, or we can make the three- to-four-color operation much more
means the company can take on bigger orders while not having to worry
about getting its
own orders out on time.
The manufacturer says this is one of between
200 and 300
automated screen printers in the country. Lange thinks it's one of
two or three working in
western South Dakota, and a first for Sturgis.
Prior to installing the new equipment the
company could print about 20,000 shirts a year, a figure that Lange
expects to eclipse
shortly. "We've done mostly rally-related shirts," he explained, "but
we've also done some
shirts for local the sports scene and other groups. We love to do more
of those kinds of
Despite being automated from the time a design is burned on
a screen until the time
a T-shirt rolls off the dryer, Lange says the business will remain
labor intensive, mainly due
to all the shirt folding and counting. "This is really going to cut
down the time we spend on
a run, because once you get going, it really cooks," he added.
Besides T-shirts, Buckle Tree has printed coffee mugs, caps, and other
rally souvenirs, in addition to selling some other lines.
Lange notes that the hardest part of his job is getting
everything set just right, but it's a task he and the staff are looking
forward to. "This is an investment towards greater earnings," he concluded, "and the customers
are going to get better quality T-shirts now."