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List of Equipment You Need to Start a Tshirt Printing Business in 2024

Are you wondering what type of equipment is needed to start a tshirt printing business? If YES, here are 10 best equipment you need.

Have it in mind there are numerous opportunities in the T-shirt printing industry. You can choose to market yourself to businesses that want custom shirts with their logo, or even make custom T-shirts with people’s photos on it, or print shirts for events like stag and hen parties.

Prints on T-shirts have been a trend and it does not seem like it is fading out anytime soon. These prints inculcate individual style, classiness, and elegance to an ordinary shirt. Printing on shirts is an easy and stress-free work although the ease depends on the quantity and complexity of the prints.

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Nevertheless, one thing that can make the process challenging is when you don’t have the necessary equipment and materials.

There are a lot of materials for t-shirt printing out there whose uses are determined by the scale of the printing. Well explained below is an overview of the equipment required to start a t-shirt printing business from the basics.

Types of Equipment is Needed to Start a Tshirt Printing Business

  1. The Screen

The screen is one very crucial material needed to start a t-shirt printing business. It is even more important when you want to make screen prints. The main use of this tool is in making stencils. These stencils are then transferred onto the shirt, thereby creating a design on it.

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Note that the functions of the screen are very similar to that of a heat press only that they are used for varying methods of printing. Using a screen can be quite challenging as you will need a different one for each color you hope on transferring.

In addition, you will need the screen to have a mesh count, the higher the mesh count, the more accurate your design is going to be.

If you are eager to make a puff and athletic design, you will require a mesh count of 15 – 90, but for general printing, it should be anything around 15 and 160 mesh counts. If you intend to make your screen at home, make use of durable materials to make the frame – wood or aluminium can do the trick. Note that this will ensure it remains sturdy and durable.

  1. Heat Press Machine

Heat press machines are machines used to transfer artworks and graphics to shirts. These machines are quite versatile as they can be used for a lot of things including mugs, shoes, tote bags, mouse-pads, and lots more. Note that heat press machines can differ from manual press machines that may not use electricity to electronic press machines and commercial grade press machines.

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A good number of people start out with a manual heat press because they are cheaper to buy. This is a simple machine that has a heated plate that provides the heat required to transfer your design onto the shirt. You only have to lay the shirt on the bottom plate and put the transfer paper with the design on top, then push the top plate down and hold it.

Once you get conversant with your manual heat press and your T-shirt business is starting to grow, you can then consider acquiring an electric heat press. They are more costly but they are much quicker and easier to operate, so they can help you to increase your output.

  1. Transfer Paper

A good number of new entrants into this business make the mistake of thinking that all transfer paper is the same. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to note that your ideal transfer paper will depend on your printer, the color of the fabric, and the image you intend to print.

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Also, note there are different papers available for inkjet and laser printers, so endeavor to check that you are buying the right one. You will also have to choose between light and dark transfer papers.

However, when transferring onto white or light-colored shirts, you will require a heat transfer paper that is primarily designed for light garments. Have it in mind that this paper features a transparent covering, so any gaps in the design take on the color of the shirt.

For dark garments, consider using dark heat transfer paper. This has a white covering so any unprinted sections of the paper will show up white on the shirt. It’s very necessary that you cut away any areas that you don’t want to be printed onto the shirt or your design will be ruined.

  1. Inkjet Printer

A printer is very important, especially if you will be using the digital heat press method. Have it in mind that the method lets you transfer printed designs from transfer paper to the shirt using the heat press machine. The inkjet printer is primarily for printing the design on the transfer paper.

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Howbeit, to get the best out of this, endeavor to use the right transfer paper, i.e., an inkjet printer paper. In addition, leverage a good quality inkjet printer for the best work. They make your work extremely neat with immaculate finishing.

Also, note that a good printer will have to accommodate various sizes of sheets and paper as this will allow you to work with varying designs irrespective of how big or minuscule they are. Some printers will require the use of software for better results. Just ensure you get one that is ideal for your printer.

  1. Ink

This is one of the most vital materials needed when making any printing. Notably, there are numerous types of ink used for printing. They include plastisol or water-based inks. However, for t-shirt printing, you will require solvent ink and they are known to come in various colors.

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For starters, you can get the primary colors like black, white, red, blue, or yellow. If you intend to get a more unique and flexible color, you can mix two or more colors until you are comfortable with the new one. Also note that you will require a scale also to weigh the ink before blending for a more precise outcome.

  1. Conveyor Dryers

After washing the screen clean, you will have to get it dried, hence the conveyor dryer. They heat the ink on the shirt, thereby setting it more on the shirt, and this ensures that the print does not easily get removed or damaged. This is the final step in t-shirt manufacturing.

  1. Emulsion

Just like it was stated above, the screen is sensitive to light, and as a remedy to that, you will need emulsion. An emulsion is more or less a liquid substance that is applied to screens to reduce its sensitivity to light. Normally, it is applied to the screen before using it.

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Note that the hardening of the emulsion (when it is exposed to light) is what creates the stencil. Applying this chemical substance is easy. You will need a particular tool, squeegee or a scoop coater. To get an accurate and smooth transfer, apply a thick amount of emulsion to screens.

  1. Exposure Unit

This is more or less the equipment needed for curing the screen coated with emulsion. It is known to pinpoint light to the stencil rather than letting the full light of the sun. When you don’t have this tool, you can use the sun to cure the Stencil.

Also note that this equipment has an oven-like shape where you mount the screens while they absorb the light. While placing them in the exposure unit, always remember that both sides of the screen do not touch each other.

  1. Vinyl Cutter

A vinyl cutter can be used to create your transfers especially when you are doing small quantity orders or need to knock the shirts out in a hurry. Also, note that you can do multiple colors with vinyl by layering the vinyl. It is advisable to limit it to 3 layers; otherwise, it will get quite thick on the t-shirt.

  1. Tables

Even though it might seem quite strange, but when running a t-shirt printing business, you will need various tables or at a minimum a good size workbench. If you can’t invest in the stand with wheels for your heat-press, you can opt for a solid table or a wood bench you can bolt your heat-press to.

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Have it in mind that the tables will come in handy when you need to have your alignment tools, heat transfers, and t-shirts accessible and in proximity to your heat press. You will also need an additional table for folding the shirts when you are done.

These are some of the most essential equipment you need to start your T-shirt business. Note that you can sell your T-shirts on your own business website, through online marketplaces such as Etsy, and even at face-to-face events like trade shows, craft fairs, and local bazaars.