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Screen Printing

Starting Your Own T Shirt Printing Business

If you’re seriously considering starting your own t shirt printing business, this comprehensive guide should prove a great resource…

How the process has evolved?

Prior to developments in digital technology, printed t shirts were mainly produced by conventional screen print methods. This needed a screen to be assembled for every colour featured in the design, making it very time consuming for the printer to organise in respect of set-up and production.
Today its very cost effective for companies to utilise a digital garment printing machine. With the ability to produce artwork which would have previously been very complicated to create. Direct to garment printing enables the digital transfer of high quality images straight onto an item of clothing. Plus with 100% cotton items the ink is cured into fabric, so the images are soft to the touch and do not fade or lose colour.

There’s also no need for industrial preparation, as the technology uses popular digital formats such as Tiff, PDF, EPS and PSD files to digitally replicate the creative design.
Also compared to the traditional screen print process, digital textile printing has a considerably shorter turnaround time. So it’s an ideal solution if a customer requires their printed garments in a hurry. Plus if you have any environmental concerns, this method saves a HUGE amount of water compared to conventional screen print production.

When should you consider sublimation printing?

Perfect for using on polyester items, sublimation printing allows the ink to turn into gas under the influence of the printers heat, and enables it to combine with the t shirt. As a result the applied dye sublimation ink becomes part of the structure of the fabric, so even after the garment has been washed a few times, the artwork on the fabric won’t diminish, split or feel uncomfortable to the touch. Please note you should not use the sublimation technique on 100% cotton products, as the natural fibres do not contain any pores and the image will not be accepted onto the fabric.

Textile PrintingUsing sublimation on polyester and cotton mix branded apparel

For corporate branded wear, cotton mix can be sublimated but the image will fade with a few washes making a 50% polyester 50% cotton weave a minimum specification. However for temporary trade show staff or product launches, marketing managers don’t seem to mind the product only having a short life span, provided the garment looks good for the actual show and allows their sales team to work comfortably throughout the event.

What’s the most popular item to print on?

Due to the constant need for business’ to increase their brand awareness, corporate branded t shirts together with fabric jute bags are currently the most popular fabric items to print on.

What could increase the cost of production?

As it doesn’t cost any more to print a photo image compared to creative artwork. The only thing which will increase the cost of a job is the need to print a dark heavy colour onto a t shirt, compared to a pastel shade.

What is the most cost effective way to print?

This all depends on the type of fabric. The best method for polyester textiles is sublimation transfer, however you won’t be able to print white images or text. With cotton products, which as we mentioned are very popular with customers exhibiting at trade shows, you can use the pigment technique which means you can easily print white onto dark textile items.

Deciding on your businesses’ target audience

Are you looking to sell to B2B, B2C or both? With the rise of brand awareness and experiential marketing activities, printed items of clothing have fast become a business staple. From team uniforms to branded apparel for trade shows and seminars. Organisation’s now source printed garments for a number of activities.

For the consumer market, printed items of clothing are regularly required by sports teams and schools, to individuals just wanting an exclusive design or cheeky slogan to promote their stag party or birthday party celebrations.

Looking at the best location for your business

While you are getting your digital printing business established, working from a home office or a suitable garage will keep costs down, especially if you are looking to sell you products via your own ecommerce site or through a digital affiliate.

Alternatively if you’ve secured suitable funding, consider a premises which is easy to reach via public transport for both you, your staff (even if you don’t have any yet) and your customers. Plus double check the property has suitable parking and loading facilities for large orders.

Why you should think about the quality of your clothingKornit Breeze in Action

Consumers will most likely want to wash and wear their printed garments again. So stock quality garments which will meet their high expectations and be honest about the anticipated results. Plus with the way the public engages with social media, every one is a critic, so you don’t want your business being affected by disgruntled customers, returned items or surplus supplies.

Securing the best shipping deal for your printed clothing

Research shipping companies and negotiate not only the best rate but the best service. By securing a special deal with a shipping company, despatching and tracking your produced items will be much easier for you and your customers. Especially in the event of any problem or issue.

The Kornit Breeze – an entry level machine

Delivering patented technology, the Kornit Breeze enables inline pretreatment of fabrics, and is an ideal solution for any start up entering the t shirt and garment digital print market. The compact and rugged machine is designed to combine high-end technology and performance, with an automatic pre-treatment degassing and integrated maintenance system.

The Mimaki TX300P-1800 – a digital textile printing machine for high volume production

Mimaki is considered one of the leading manufacturers of textile digital printers and has been producing machines since the 1990s. Not only suited to digital t shirt printing, the high volume Mimaki TX300P-1800 is also capable of producing other textile items such as digitally printed home furnishings, flags and exhibition displays.

The Fabrijet-DG1 FD-1908 – a classic commercial machine

Designed for high speed textile printing and mass production, the Fabrijet-DGI FD-1908, is not only capable of achieving 100 linear metres per hour, but can print on various textiles including cotton, silk, linen, rayon and polyester. With a high capacity dyer for fast printing, this industrial level machine can detect obstacles, wrinkles and the end of the fabric, making it an ideal choice for mass production.

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