T-shirt screen printing as a business

Screen printing and the equipment to be used

Many people are curious about the T-shirt screen printing process and equipment used by people that do this type of work. Methods used for screen printing are interesting and are probably more involved than most people might think. Individuals who do this job must be accurate during the production process and creative when coming up with new designs to recreate. Special equipment is needed to transfer the final design onto the fabric.

The first step in the process is coming up with a great design. Some people prefer text in decorative fonts while others like bold graphics. Designs can be created that combine the two in an attractive way. This creative process of designing the shirt is limited only by imagination. 

The next step involves taking the design you created and making screens that accurately represent the design. Screens are then prepared and placed on the printing equipment. This is a process that requires attention to detail to make sure the image properly represents the original design. 

After the screens have been created, it is time to prepare the printing equipment for the screen printing process. This involves selecting the proper color inks and putting them into the press heads. Colors are assembled from the lightest shade to the darkest. White is always placed first and black is always the final color prepared. 

Not all printing presses are built alike. Some are more sophisticated than others and are capable of producing more intricate designs. A machine with four heads can accommodate four colors simultaneously. There are other machines available that can print more colors than that at one time. When creating a design, it is important to keep in mind what the printing equipment can handle. If your design features seven colors, you will need access to a machine with seven or more press heads. 

The machine does all the work once the press is set up with the proper screens and the chosen ink. The process of running the machine requires two people. One person feeds the shirts into the machine and the other person pulls them off the machine after the print is transferred. The second person should be checking for print quality during the process. If there are any problems, the machine can be paused and adjustments made. 

After the shirts are removed from the printer they are run through a dryer cycle to set the design. These special dryers generate heat more than twice as hot as the average kitchen oven. This heats the shirt up instantly and serves to permanently set the ink into the fabric. 

The only way to make professional quality printed T-shirts in large quantities is to purchase a screen printing machine. Consumers have two choices when it comes to purchasing this type of equipment. 

Heat Transfer Equipment

This method of garment printing utilizes a heat press machine to transfer the design onto the fabric. This is basic equipment that many beginners will use when learning how to print shirts. The design for the shirt is created on an ordinary computer and then transferred onto paper that is designed specifically for the heat transfer printing process. The garment is placed into the heat press machine with the transfer placed on top of the shirt. Entrepreneurs who choose this method will need a computer with graphic design software, heat transfer paper and a basic heat press machine. Other options with this method include sublimation and vinyl transfers. This method carries a high cost per unit produced and is often reserved to turn out small quantities. 

Silk Screening Equipment 

Silk screen printing is more appropriate for large orders and is best tackled by people who have some experience with printing t-shirts. This process requires more sophisticated equipment in addition to a squeegee, photo emulsion, frames and various inks. The printing machines are complex but designed to make the process easy for the operator. The Printa 770 series machine is popular with t-shirt designers. This model features four arms designed to accommodate four frames. People just learning to use this type of equipment can start with a simple design until they get familiar with the process. The frames can be used multiple times making this the preferable method of printing when producing large quantities of shirts. With the heat transfer method, the user must make a separate transfer sheet for every shirt printed. Using silk screening equipment makes it possible to produce several units from a single frame.