When starting a Screen Printing Business, there are a lot of variables to consider. You should ask yourself questions like..
- What type of inks do you plan to use?
- What size prints do you want to offer?
- How many colors are you going to offer per print?
- Do you plan to be a full service shop?
- What is your budget?
- Do you have any licenses or permits?
- Where are you planning to put all of the equipment?
- Are there any special techniques to know before I start?
There are many other questions to answer based on where you plan to operate from and what time of electric, plumbing and waste management systems are available to you so doing your research is a good start.
As a beginner, Learning the basics like setting up a screen to learning the pressure, angle and speed of pulling the squeege to get the right print is best when learned by hand. Not only due to cost but also due to damage rate and having the personal touch to understand what works best. Between the type of inks you use, the mesh you are printing through, the durometer of the squeege and the material you are printing on, each variable could have it’s own separate issues so start with learning the basics as best you can on YouTube or other place like T-ShirtForums.com or ScreenPrinting.com.
When it comes to having the proper tools and equipment and space, to printing manually, utilizing the space of a 2 car garage would be ideal. Expanding from there can always happen. I would just suggest possibly researching Craigslist for used equipment, which is highly rare to find a full shop for sale or even a good press or I would suggest buying it new and take advantage of all of the warranties and the peace of mind that there should be no issues to use it once set up properly.
When choosing equipment, having the best quality as well and the most cost effective is ideal. Below I have created just that. I put together a list of equipment I personally have used and highly suggest for the serious starter who is going to put out quality and quantity product as a Manual Press shop. As far as the actual Press is concerned, I would normally suggest buying an M&R Chameleon with 8 Print heads with 6–8 Shirt Stations. However, doing that would raise the initial suggested budget from $25,000 to $35,000 which is not necessary at this time. Once you start making some real money and can invest into an Automatic Press like the M&R Diamond Back Series or the M&R Sportsman Ex, I would then buy an Automatic Press before replacing it and then sell your Manual Press that was suggested below and Purchase the M&R Chameleon. The reason is for this Press exchange is to exchange the aluminum pallets with each other which are more stable than the wood ones provided by the other Press. M&R to me is the better of the press companies due to the quality of the press as well as the amount of knowledgeable technicians available if any issues would ever arise.
MANUAL PRINT SHOP w/ PROFESSIONAL EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES | APPROX. BUDGET: $25,000.00
- 6 COLOR/ 4 STATION MANUAL PRESS (RILEY HOPKINS | MICRO REG.) = $3,800+ NEW
- FLASH DRYER (MANUAL BBC 16” X 16” 1575W) = $625+ NEW
- CONVEYOR DRYER (RANAR TURBO JETSTAR DT422) = $4,400+ NEW
- Perfect for Plastisol & Waterbase/Discharge Inks
- 220 Volt Single Phase / 27 Amps
- (SPECS Ranar)
- HEAT TRANSFER PRESS (16” X 24” CLAMSHELL) = $250+ NEW
- Excellent for Foiling Large Prints
- (6) 15″ W 70 Durameter
- (6) 15″ W 80 Durameter
- (2) 15″ W 90 Durameter
- (6) 6″ W 70 Durameter
- (6) 6″ W 80 Durameter
- (2) 6″ W 90 Durameter
- WORK BENCH W/ SCREEN RACK STORAGE = $400+
- EXPOSURE UNIT (RANAR CBX-2024 NON VACUUM) = $400+ NEW
- WASHOUT BOOTH (36” TALL WASH AREA) = $600+ NEW
- PRESSURE WASHER (1800 PSI) = $200+ NEW
- SCREENS (20”X 24” Aluminum frames or 31″ X 36″ for Automatic Equip)
- (2-4) 110 MESH
- USE: Base on Fleece + Specialty Ink
- (12-16) 160 MESH
- USE: Waterbase Discharge + Minimal Detail Plastisol + Base for Standard Cotton T-Shirts
- (10-14) 230 MESH
- USE: Fine Detail Waterbase/Discharge + Higher Detail Plastisol Prints
- (6-8) 305 MESH
- USE: Fine Halftone detail Plastisol Prints + Neck Label and Fashion Soft Prints
- (2-4) 110 MESH
- EMULSION (Autoplus 8000 Plastisol & Waterbase)
- SCOOP COATER
- EMULSION REMOVER (Concentrate)
- SIMPLE GREEN (Degreaser)
- DEHAZE (Stencil Remover)
- SCRUB BRUSHES (3 Min.)
- MATSUI WATERBASE/DISCHARGE INKS (PMS MIX SYSTEM) = $700+ NEW
- 301 Series NEO Pigment Concentrate (All Colors in System)
- Various Colors & Bases (White Discharge, Discharge, Clear, Black, etc.)
- WILFLEX PLASTISOL INKS (EPIC PC SYSTEM) $1,200+ NEW
- Epic Series Pigment Concentrate (1-2 of Each Color)
- Various Colors & Bases (Standard + Specialty Ink application)
- MIXING SCALE (3000 GRAM CAP.) = $150+ NEW
- SPOT REMOVER GUN (TEKMAR TG-300) = $140+ NEW
- Includes Cleaning Solution
- QUARTS BUCKET W/ LIDS
- MIXING SPATULAS (6” – 10” Long)
- WATERBASE AEROSOL INK REMOVER
- PLASTISOL AEROSOL INK REMOVER
- DRUM FAN (MAX XAIR BF36DD 36” 2 SPEED) = $300+ NEW
- MOP W/ BUCKET & RINGER = $75+ NEW
- TRASH CAN W/ LID = $15+ NEW
- APPLE IMAC DESKTOP COMPUTER = $1,100+
- ADOBE CREATIVE SUITE = $49–$79 p/m
- ACCURIP = $500+
- QUIKSEPS = $180+
- EPSON PRINTER 1430 = $250+
- FILM POSITIVE (100 Sheets 13” W X 19” H) = $100 +
- EPSON INK CARTRIDGES = $120+
Based off of my previous suggestion, expect to spend $25,000 or less due to purchasing it all new as well as the crating & shipped fees that are not always labeled. Find a good Electrician and Plumber too since you might need both when setting everything up. As I mentioned before, this is to start out…
HIGHER VOLUME PRODUCTION SHOP
(400–600 shirts per hour)
If you want to be serious and take it to the next level immediately, expect to spend close to $80K-$100 for and Automatic and a manual press as well as a large gas dryer like the M&R Sprint 2000. Not only can you do massive volume with this equipment but you can print waterbase/discharge without any issues. You will need to have approximately a good 2,000 Square feet of space to have a manageable operations area with employees so keep that in mind as you are looking to invest. Your best bet is to hire an expert to work all of this out with you or find a local distributor who sells the equipment and supplies who is willing to walk you through it all the way.
To see what a 2,000 sq. ft. shop should look like as well as the overall operation details, refer to the images below:
If you just want to test the waters and see if you even like the idea of printing shirts for some extra cash or to even make it into your permanent livelihood, you can’t go wrong with starting the journey with this DIY STARTER KIT for under $250