If you’ve ever seen someone Screen Print onto a t shirt, you know it’s like magic. It’s amazing how such a simple process can yield such vivid and vibrant designs and a wonderful texture on the surface of the t shirt.
Although it may seem like a simple process on the outside, if you have ever looked into starting a Screen Printing business yourself you are very much aware of how intimidating it may seem to get into. Lucky for you however, we’re here to help.
As experienced Screen Printers for decades now, we’re going to lay out the whole process of what you need to do from start to finish. Hopefully by the end of it you’ll understand what it takes to master the craft of Screen Printing.
Understanding the Equipment
In our opinion, this is the most intimidating part of the whole process. There really aren’t any full comprehensive guides that outline all of the equipment you need and what are the costs and benefits of using one piece of equipment compared to the other. All you see are large price tags and that can be very scary.
So where going to breakdown all of the equipment you’re going to need as well as some alternatives to consider.
The first thing you will need is the physical Screen Printing press itself. Screen Printing presses come in many forms but in general there are two important variables to consider when purchasing one. One, how many colors and stations there are, and two, whether the station is automatic or manual.
Colors are the amount of arms extending out of the machine to hold your screens and stations are the flat surfaces that you press onto. When it comes to colors and stations, he more the faster. You will also be more capable of printing multi-colored designs efficiently. However, that obviously comes at a higher cost and the use of more space so we generally recommend a 6-8 color/station setup.
For automatic vs. manual, this largely depends on your budget and your vision for your Screen Printing business. With an automatic setup, you can print so much faster than manual but that comes at a large cost. A new automatic 6 color / 8 station Screen Printing press can cost between $25,000 and $35,000 to purchase and have set up. A new manual 6 color / 6 station Screen Printing press can cost just $1,500.
This is obviously a huge gap in price and you should really only invest in an automatic Screen Printing station if you’re 100% willing to commit to screen printing full time. For someone just starting out, we recommend starting with a manual Screen Printing press, building a customer base, and then reevaluating whether or not you can cover the cost of the press in a reasonable amount of time with your revenue.
The next thing you’re going to need is a heat source to cure the ink with. If you’re willing to put up the money you can get a top-notch conveyor dryer for around $2,000 that’s pretty much going to do all of the work for you. If you’re unsure whether or not this is going to be a full-time commitment or not, look for a cheaper option. Investing in a heat press for around $200 dollars is a much safer option but be sure to understand how different temperatures and times affect the cure. There are plenty of videos online that discuss this topic in depth.
Lastly, you’re going to need the proper equipment to set up the screens. Before getting into the technical equipment you’re going to need a computer with some sort of graphic design software and a printer capable of printing on film. A lot of generic printers can be configured to do so.
For technical equipment, you’re going to need some type of UV restrictive light like a yellow light, emulsion as well as a tray to apply it, blank screens, and some type of UV screen exposure device. You’re also going to need a room that you are able to control the light in whether that is a closet or a room with decent blinds on the windows.
All of these things run for pretty cheap except for the UV screen exposure device which can be around $200, however, there are some DIY rigs online to check out that work perfectly fine. Be sure to give yourself some time to practice and learn how to set up the screens. It has a little bit of a learning curve but it will save you big money in the long run.
Set Goals and Complete Necessary Legal Work
If you’re going to start Screen Printing for some income, you have to establish yourself as a legal business entity. Do some research and figure out what type of business structure works best for you but LLC is normally the best option.
There will surely be other legal things to sort out along the way so here is a checklist for the most common ones.
- Registering your Business for Taxes
- Setting up a Business Credit Card and Bank Account
- Start Some Form of Business Accounting
- Researching and Obtaining the Necessary Permits and Licenses for Your Area
- Buying Business Insurance