Are you looking to get started with your own screen print shop, working from your own home? It sounds pretty appealing, being your own boss, choosing your own hours, working from your house and avoiding all that crazy traffic – and being creative at the same time.
That said, what do you need to get started? A screen-printing kit is probably where you’ll start the list, but it’s not where you’ll finish it – you will need a few more bits and pieces before you can get going, or you won’t be going far.
Doing a bit of research in advance will increase your chances of getting good prints straight away, and decrease your chances of spending money and then finding out that you actually need equipment you can’t afford, which would waste your initial investment.
Screen printing can be a surprisingly daunting business to get into, as you need quite a lot of tools and materials, but here’s a little tip: it’s not as hard as it seems once you get going!
What Equipment Do You Need To Start A Screen-Printing Business From Home?
A screening kit covers quite a broad range of equipment, and while you may not need fancy gear with lots of bells and whistles while you’re just getting going, you do need a basic screen printing starter kit before you try and launch into this world.
So, where to start?
If you’re going to be printing anything, you need a way to dry your ink; otherwise, you risk ending up with some very smudgy, smeary work and a lot of wasted time. You can theoretically dry ink out with a heat gun if you happen to have one handy, but it’s not easy to get consistent heat and this can be very time-consuming.
You would be better off purchasing a flash dryer, especially if you’re doing multiple prints.
A flash dryer will apply heat across your entire print, ensuring even distribution and the same quality right across your print. This will give you a very professional finish and the confidence that your prints have been properly dried.
What’s next? Well, perhaps one of the most basic things you’ll need for your beginner screen printing kit is screens.
Maybe that sounds obvious, but this list is here to cover everything, and you certainly aren’t going to be starting if you don’t have some screens to work with.
High mesh counts are better for fine details, while low mesh counts are suitable for images that don’t require finesse. If you’re going for blocky and simple images to start with, you can afford to get the lower count screens.
Do some research into what you need and the different types of thread before you make any purchase – the quality and type of screen you buy will make a big difference to your prints.
To burn the images onto the screen, you’re also going to need an exposure unit. There are various kinds available, and the quality you can get will depend on how much of a budget you have to play with.
You might be able to manage with setting up a bulb in your darkroom, but if you can afford to spend a bit more upfront, you’ll find LED units last longer and use a lot less electricity, saving you money on two fronts. They also tend to produce crisper outlines for better prints.
Space is another major factor when it comes to setting up a home screen printing kit. If you don’t have enough room, you’re really going to struggle, because you need a darkroom and you also need somewhere you can wash out your inks and other chemicals – and that’s not going to be a standard household drain.
Warning: If you can’t afford a washout booth as part of your setup costs, you’ll have to come up with alternative ways to avoid your screen printing waste going down the household drains, or you’ll end up with an expensive plumbing bill. If you can afford a washout booth, get one: this is a very useful piece of kit to have.
DalesWay points out that before you even get that far, you also need an inkjet printer to create a film positive. This will help you create the stencils you’ll need by printing designs on a special kind of film – which you will also need to purchase – that lets UV light through the transparent areas, but blocks UV light wherever the artwork has been printed.
Next, you’re going to need a press, and there are a lot of options out there. Imprint Next discuss some of the benefits of having proper press, versus screen clamps, when it comes to creating a t-shirt screen printing kit.
Another important element of your DIY screen printing kit is a computer that is capable of doing designs. That means a reasonably powerful laptop or desktop, with some vector software you can do your designs on. That does not mean whipping something up in Paint!
Next, if you’re creating a t-shirt printing kit, you’ll want something which helps you to cure the image onto the t-shirt. Remember that clothing needs to stand up to constant washing, and if your designs fade fast, your business will start to get poor feedback and dissatisfied customers.
ScreenPrinting explains that you can use a flash dryer to cure clothes, which is a good way to keep costs low if you’re just getting started. However, as they say, variables in temperature and materials being used will change how long you need to cure the clothes for, and this could affect the quality.
If you can afford it, a conveyor dryer is a good addition to a screen press kit and will let you produce consumables faster as they are capable of handling multiple t-shirts at one time. If you can’t afford one straight away, keep your eyes open for second-hand options and put money aside to buy one in the future.
Consumables You’ll Need To Keep Buying
Obviously, your printing kit is not complete without the gear you’re actually going to be using up every time you print something. This should be something you budget for when you’re getting set up.
Don’t buy vast quantities of stock straight away, but make sure you have enough to get a feel for the equipment and give yourself enough leeway to allow for test pieces and accidents.
Obviously, the first thing on the list of consumables is ink. You should do some research into the types of ink, but if you want simple instruction: it’s best for beginners to start with plastisol, especially if you’re feeling nervous.
Icon Printing explains that water-based inks give you a nicer feel, making the image more “part” of the clothing, but water-based inks can be tricky to handle and cure, and they will dry on the screen. Plastisol inks are easier to handle because they don’t dry out, and they provide great color consistency.
You’re also going to require some emulsion, which is what you’ll be using to coat your screen with. Again, there are two kinds of emulsion, called diazo and presensitized.
Diazo is a better option for beginners as it’s easier to get exposure times right when using it.
In case that doesn’t seem like enough stuff to buy in your attempt to create the best screen printing kit, you’re still going to need a few more bits and pieces.
First, inkjet film, which you can print your stencils onto, and which you’ll be using up every time you print a film positive.
Then, you’ll need chemicals appropriate for cleaning your tools and any spills, and chemicals to strip your screens if you’re going to be reusing them – which, ideally, you should be.
You will also need a source of whatever you’re planning to print on, whether it’s t-shirts, silkscreens, cushion covers, or something else.
You should make sure you have a high-quality, reliable supply as these are going to be part of your finished product, so don’t skimp. However, it may be useful to buy low-quality versions to practice on while you get the hang of the equipment and processes involved.
Still not enough? You’re going to want a few tools, as well. A pressure washer is important if you’re going to be stripping and reusing your screens, as the force of the water will help the chemicals to do their job.
You’ll want a squeegee, too, as this will help you press down firmly and evenly. Sponges, craft knives, gloves, screen tape, scrubbing brushes, and scoop coaters for spreading the emulsion smoothly are also useful tools to have to hand.
There are a dozen more, but as you start to get a feel for your job and the particular things you want to do with your screen printing kit, you’ll have a better idea of what tools will be useful to you.
Once you have the basics, you can take a bit of time to figure this out, so don’t feel you have to buy anything even vaguely related to “screen printing” before you can make a start.
Does A Screen-Printing Kit Cover All We Need To Start A Screen-Printing Business From Home?
We ran a poll on many different screen-printing-related Facebook groups asking its members the same question.
“CAN YOU START A PRINT SHOP BUSINESS FORM HOM WITH JUST A SCREEN-PRINTING KIT”
And these were the response we got…
93 different people participated in the poll and 97% of them voted YES!
So, people with experience in the business overwhelmingly agree It is possible to start a print shop business from home with a screenprinting kit.
But, as outstanding as this result was, we need to take it with a grain of salt and analyze the context.
Sure, it´s possible to start a screen-printing business from home using nothing but s startup kir bu, It greatly depends on how comprehensive the kit you buy is, but the chances are, you will need to get a few extra bits and pieces unless you only want to do a very basic level of screen printing.
If you search for a screen printing kit Amazon, you’ll find there are many, many different options to choose from. For example, you can purchase a silkscreen kit or a t-shirt printing starter kit with ease.
However, most of these kits are quite basic, so unless your project is extremely simple, you may find that they don’t fully meet your needs, especially if you want to set up a proper screen printing business in your own home. So, what do they contain?
Many screen printing kits include some variation of the following:
- Screen-print frame(s)
- A scraper
- Transparent films
- A loofah
- A mat/disposable underlay of some sort
- A squeegee
- Wooden sticks
- Disposable gloves
- Measuring cups
- Ink knives
- Printing scoop coater
- Sponge/clean-up cloths
That list of contents sounds pretty comprehensive, but as screen printing is quite a complicated business, you’re likely to find you still need some things. For example, very few screen printing kits contain the emulsion, and most don’t (for obvious reasons) have the bigger or more complicated tools.
However, for a home screen printing business, you will need those things, so let’s think about what the kits fail to cover.
Is There Any Additional Tool Or Equipment We Need To Purchase?
It depends to some extent on what the particular kit you purchase includes, and what you plan to do. If you’re going to be printing onto clothing, you will probably need at least some additional bits and pieces.
Most screen printing kits, for example, don’t contain printers – for obvious reasons! Many people already have an inkjet printer at home, but if you don’t, this is something you’ll need to purchase, along with suitable inks for it.
If you’re building a t-shirt business starter kit, you will also need to get a flash dryer, a press, and possibly a conveyor dryer.
We’ve already mentioned the lack of emulsion in many kits, which is something to think about. Remember to check out the quantities of the other necessary consumables that come with the kit, such as inkjet film and ink.
Remember that even if a kit covers your initial needs, you’re going to have to purchase consumables going forward. Make sure that you think about this in advance, as you’ll need to source the supplies and you don’t want to find yourself unable to get something you’ve built your business plan on.
Checklist Of All The Tools, Equipment, And Other Consumables Needed To Start A Screen-Printing Business From Home
We aren’t going to pretend that the list was a short one, so let’s cover the must-haves and nice-to-haves in a checklist. This should help you make sure your screen printing machine kit is fully equipped before you start trying to build a business based on it.
- Computer with relevant software
- Heat gun/flash dryer
- Inkjet printer
- Darkroom with a light source
- Flash dryer/conveyor dryer (if printing clothing)
- Inkjet film
- Cleaning chemicals
- Print target (e.g. shirts)
- Screen tape
- Scoop coaters
If one or two items on this list are proving impossible to get hold of, you may be able to find workarounds, but these are all pretty essential parts of a home screen-printing kit, and you won’t get far without them!
- Washout booth
- Press (particularly if printing clothes)
- Pressure washer
- Other tools, e.g. craft knives, scrubbing brushes, loofahs, etc.
As you get familiar with screen printing, you’ll probably add other “nice-to-have” items to this list, and if your business is successful, you’ll build up quite a toolkit if useful things. Good luck!
Don’t get overwhelmed! Although this seems like a lot of things to acquire before you can set up a home screen printing business, many of them are fairly inexpensive and easy to get hold of, and some of the expensive bits of kit can be purchased at a later date.
You can try out printing at home without having to buy all the fancy equipment straight away, though if you want to gear up to a business, you will need most of these tools to achieve professional results at a reasonable pace.
With a careful approach and a good foundation of knowledge, you’ll avoid many of the mistakes which other fledgling screen printing businesses fall prey to. A screen printing kit may not cover all your needs, but it’s a great place to start.