Do You Want to Start Screen Printing?

Have you ever thought about offering screen printing?   This way of decorating apparel has been around since 221 AD and is still the most popular method today.    Screen printing pushes ink through a mesh and onto the apparel.   You are able to get fine detail and it is long lasting.

Equipment Needed To Screen Print

Screen printing does take a lot of equipment.  Here is a list of what you will need:

  • Computer with design software: Your customer may provide art or you may create your own, but either way you will need design software to separate colors and send to the screen system
  • Exposing Unit:to burn the screens with UV light
  • Screens: One screen is needed for each color you print. These can be washed out and reused for other jobs.  Start with at least a small inventory, however you would use in one day.
  • Emulsion: Screens are coated with emulsion so the image can be burned onto the screen
  • Ink: Plastisol ink is sold in buckets. A bucket of ink for each color you will be printing.   White is used the most often, followed by black and then inventory basic colors you will be using
  • Press: This holds the apparel and screen. There are manual single stand presses or you can get a press that holds multiple screens for multi-color printing
  • Dryer: This will cure the ink on your apparel
  • Squeegees: These are used to pull the ink across the screen
  • Washout Station: This allows you to rinse the ink from the screens and reclaim them for future use.

Screen Printing Start-Up Costs

Screen printing packages that include the equipment are available from many suppliers. Here is a list of what everything cost to start screen printing.

The presses range from a hobby set for $1500 to a professional set up for $25000.     A hobby set will include a one color press, a flash unit and an exposure unit.    The professional package includes a 6 station press with a compressor.

A dryer will run from $1900 to $12, 500

Exposure unit run from $260 to $5,000

Emulsion is about $30/quart.  Each screen needs $1 worth of emulsion.

Inks are about $35 quart, so just having 6 basic colors will cost $210

Squeegees are about $10 each

Washout Station is about $1000

If you add this all up to start with just 6 ink colors with the most basic of equipment will cost about $5000.     That does not include art program that will also be needed


Learning Curve

The most difficult part of starting in screen printing is the learning curve.   As a one man shop you have to sell, do the art, burn the screens and print.   There are a lot of different things to learn just to do one order.

Trade shows are a great place to learn.   You Tube training videos available and the equipment suppliers will be a good resource.   Ryonet offers a $400 class at various locations too.

Screen Printed Transfer Alternative

As you can see becoming a screen printer takes a lot of work and investment.   Before you head down that path, a great alternative is to start with screen printed transfers.   This way you can sell screen printing and all you need is a heat press, about a $1000 investment.    Applying screen printed transfers is easy, making for a short learning curve.   Place your screen printed transfer ink side down on your apparel, close your press, then pull off the release paper.   Your screen printed apparel is ready to go.

With screen printed transfers you don’t need to inventory all the different ink types either.    At Transfer Express we carry 70 stock plastisol ink colors, plus specialty inks for polyester, Lycra and spandex.   Printing with unique effects is available too including glow-in-the-dark, pearl (luminescent), glitter and puff.

Artwork is also at your disposal for free.    All Transfer Express customers have access to the free online design tool, Easy View.     This easy to use designer is template based filled with 7000 customizable layouts and 10, 000 clip art.    It is so easy to use, everyone is an artist within minutes.

Using custom screen printed transfer is an advantage since you don’t need to buy the print until you made a sale.   Screen printed transfer are also sold by the sheet so you can put different items on the same sheet.    For a front and back,  a left chest and full back will fit on the same sheet cutting costs in half.

Order a free sample pack today to see if this alternative will work for you    If you are doing well and your business grows to the point you might want to take it all in house, the screen printing alternative will be waiting.



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