Nifty Tricks For Max Score In Your “Screen Printing” Game

June 11, 2024
Nifty Tricks For Max Score In Your “Screen Printing” Game

It’s not easy to get creativity to mix well with craftsmanship. But it’s fun to get there. That’s what we see a lot in the screen printing industry. As awesome as it is, screen printing takes some serious effort to become a thriving operation. It’s a hobby that can easily get pricey, even with a single misstep. Let’s explore further.  

This blog will serve as a guide for everyone – beginners just starting out or screen printing experts. Here are a few nifty tricks to save money without sacrificing quality, and score big on your screen printing adventures.

We will be looking into almost every major aspect to navigate the route to cost effectiveness including purchase of materials and the organization of the workspace; strategically so that you end up getting the best out of your passion projects without having to squeeze your wallets dry.

Let’s get into the most cost-effective ways to produce amazing prints in the most budget-friendly manner, subsequently leading to a financially sustainable business venture. I personally call it Buck-Worthy Screen Printing.

1. Optimizing capital expenditure

To get the screen printing business in motion, you are going to have to invest in the equipment. A capital expenditure. Even something as basic as a halogen exposure light could cost you anywhere around $150 to $300. Considering every valuable component you will need to produce awesome prints, your capital expenditure could go up to or even above $5000.

To optimize this investment, you will need to do some serious research. There are economical components out there; decent ones at that. And some of them suit beginners better. You need to understand what can work best for your operation, and then try to find the most economical yet reliable product out there. 

We recommend going through local marketplaces first (online and offline), and then some on craigslist or social media marketplaces. Beginners ought to start with a single color press if budget is an issue. They are enough to help you make a name for your business. There’s also this otherwise neglected alternative of getting refurbished equipment. Or you can just build drying racks and exposure units yourself. But remind yourself that DIY equipment comes with risks that might force you to spend more money in the long run.

2. Optimizing sampling

This is where many screen printers just lose a lot of money. Test printing is part of the process. And to test print, most screen printers buy t-shirts; with each tee costing between $10 to $15. They can easily optimize this process by buying blank t-shirts in bulk along with the garments for printing from wholesale apparel suppliers that offer volume discounts and free shipping. Bulk apparel purchases are a great way to save a lot of money that are otherwise spent on retail pieces for testing.

There’s also an alternative. Test pellons. Experienced screen printers are aware of test pellons. These pellons cost between $0.48 and $0.72 per piece. If you are new to screen printing, you might be wondering what they are. They are what you call little squares, with texture similar to that of t-shirts, that can be screen printed on. They are great options to test multi-color prints.

3. Don’t dump the ink

You’d be surprised at how many screen printers simply toss out plastisol ink after every printing project. Typically, an 8oz jar of plastisol is sufficient for approximately 50 prints. We don’t recommend chucking the ink after a project. Instead, you can reuse the ink by storing them in containers. The ink doesn’t dry quickly when exposed to the air, and can be used for another print. It’s an often overlooked tactic to cut costs.

4. Procuring garments for printing

Reiterating what was mentioned earlier. It’s best to purchase blank apparel wholesale for printing from a good supplier. Screen printers often purchase t-shirts wholesale, but don’t often compare prices between wholesalers. Many wholesalers may offer the same style of a t-shirt at lower margins. This could be beneficial for buyers intending to buy t-shirts in dozens. In addition to wholesale per-piece pricing, some wholesalers also offer bulk discounts and free shipping on high-volume orders. This gives printers considerable savings. 

5. Don’t give up on scorched t-shirts too quick

Screen printing can never be done perfectly every time. Mistakes are bound to happen, even if you are experienced or just starting out. One of those mistakes that could cost you some is scorching. There will come a time for every printer to encounter a botched printing that scorches the garment. We are not talking about burnt t-shirts here. Those are not fixable, at least to my knowledge. But scorches are fixable. 

Simply add an equal volume of water and hydrogen peroxide into a spray bottle. Then spray it on the scorched parts of the t-shirt (they are easier to spot on white tees). You can then wait for the peroxide to do its magic OR speed things up by sending the tee through the conveyor. Fixing scorched t-shirts can save you a lot of money if you are a serial printer.

6. Ink crisis management

You will be working with a lot of ink. And more often than not get into a situation where the ink in your hands or an equipment ends up on a perfectly fine tee. Know what many printers do? They just accept the mistake and discard the tee. Some might be more prepared with some chemicals to get the ink off. But you can save some money there as well. And all you need is some acetone and a spray gun (spot gun, that is). 

Acetone is pretty cheap and easily available. Get an old coffee mug and put an old piece of t-shirt inside it. Now use the tee to cover the mug in a way that the ink is exposed at the mouth of the mug. Spray the acetone directly on the spot with the ink, with the spot gun. Just a short burst should do. With the piece of t-shirt inside the mug, the spray will hit the t-shirt and won’t pop out of the mug. Now let the sprayed acetone rest on the ink for a few seconds. After giving it a few seconds, spray more on the same spot till the ink is finally flushed out. Use the t-shirt again after drying it thoroughly. Oh, and don’t forget to wear goggles when doing this.

7. Plan your designs to cut costs

All your customers won’t be coming to you with specific requirements on the t-shirt color. Some of them don’t mind being flexible. This helps you too. In such cases, you can have a cost-cutting stock ready. Go for one style of t-shirts of a single color. Buy them in bulk to make your cost-cutting stock. For instance, buying blank white t-shirts in bulk gets you a better price break from wholesalers that offer bulk discounts.

Now when it comes to printing, make sure you don’t have a lot of patterns and make sure not to print in too many locations. This increases the cost a lot. If you use a lot of different colors, that will mean more setup time, more supplies, and more reclaiming time. Obviously costly. So keep your budget low for those flexible customers by printing designs that use fewer colors and less ink in fewer areas on the tee. This is why some screen printers go for designs that are completed by the t-shirt’s own color. 

There you have it. Pretty nifty, huh? These tricks won’t affect the quality much, and as long as you are creative enough, you’re going to make good business with significant savings in the long run.

Now, go get creative!

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