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How to Start a Screen Printing Business

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Everyone can use a little extra money right now, and screen printing t-shirts can be fun way to supplement, and possibly replace, your income.

Business License
The first step to starting a business is to get a business license. Check with your local government to find out what the requirements and fees are in your area.

In order to start screen printing, you will need a screen printing press. Search the internet and you will find many different instructions for making your own, but it is really simpler to just purchase one. Your best bet would be a four screen manual press. This will allow you to be able to print a shirt with four different colors. Most clients will be happy with no more than four colors, but there are manual presses that hold up to six different screens if you want to go all out. The four screen press will be a great way to start, though.

You will also need screens on which to burn an image. Burning a screen is pretty simple once you get the hang of it, but it seems very complicated at first. You will need a 500 watt halogen light bulb, a transparency with the image you want to print in black (preferably printed with a laser jet printer), and a screen coated with light-sensitive emulsion. Working in a light-safe environment (I have an interior bathroom that I use a yellow bug light in for a darkroom), you place the transparency on the screen and then expose the screen to the halogen bulb for approximately 12 minutes. Then you rinse the image out of the screen with water. For more info on this process, I suggest you search Youtube for videos. There are plenty!

Other materials you will need include ink, squeegees to spread the ink, and a flash dryer. You can use a heat gun, but the time and risk involved with not curing the ink all the way just is not worth it. Flash dryers are more expensive, but worth every penny.

Many screen printing supply companies offer start-up kits that will include everything you need. I purchased my kit for around $1200 and was extremely satisfied. The kits include everything you could possibly need and also have instructional DVD's.

You will need a good sized room to get started. I use an attic room that is about 200 square feet and have plenty of room. Many people use an extra bedroom or a garage. One thing to remember is that if you order a screen printing press, it will need to be mounted to a table. I just built a sturdy (but not so pretty) table out of a sheet of 4x8 plywood and 2x4's. It does the trick and I don't stress when I drop ink on it! You will also need a place to dry the shirts. I use the opposite end of my table with the printing press on it. The flash dryer is on wheels and swivels around, so I just turn lay the shirt on the table and then swing the dryer over it for the time needed to cure the ink (about one minute, normally).

There are many different brands of t-shirts you can use. If you have a business license, you can set up an account with a distributor and get quality shirts at a discount. I will put a couple of links in the resources section.

Once people find out you can screen print, you will probably get a lot of referrals by word of mouth. There are many companies, churches, and schools that are consistently ordering shirts. Create a flyer and hand-deliver them to your potential customers. If you offer then a discount, you'll get some interest. As you do jobs for clients, be sure to give them a few extra business cards to pass along to friends.

Check out the other screen printing businesses in your area. You want to set a competitive price, but don't go too low. Screen printing is tough work and you will regret it if you slave away for days on a job and only profit a couple bucks an hour.



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