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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Heat Printing vs. Silk Screening and more questions...

A friend of mine is very creative and wants to go into the t-shirt industry with me. I just have a few (a bunch) of questions to ask about costs/benifits/whats best...etc. I'd like to start as a do it yourself, and then if things work out move to paying a company to create my shirts (cheeper). I don't want to sit on inventory that doesn't sell.

What is the difference between Heat Printing and Silk Screening?

Which is cheaper?

Which is better quality?

Which Is better to produce only a few prints at a time?

Which has cheaper start up costs?

For Silk Screening since I've mostly researched that. For a 1pint can of ink, we will say about 1/4 of a sheet of paper is covered. Can anyone guesstimate about how many prints that will print?

Has anyone tried to sell their own custom t-shirts on here? If so, how has it been going? Do you find it profitable? Anyone fail? If so, why?

If you guys recommend Heat Printing, what are good sites to buy products for this?


I'm sure there will be tons more questions. But this is a start!

Thanks!

Smesh
 

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Re: Heat Printing vs. Silk Screening and more questions...

smeshy123 said:
A friend of mine is very creative and wants to go into the t-shirt industry with me. I just have a few (a bunch) of questions to ask about costs/benifits/whats best...etc. I'd like to start as a do it yourself, and then if things work out move to paying a company to create my shirts (cheeper). I don't want to sit on inventory that doesn't sell.
Some would recommend you start with a fufilment service like cafepress. I don't really care for them, but they do have the significant advantage of $0 startup cost.

smeshy123 said:
What is the difference between Heat Printing and Silk Screening?
There are other methods to transfer images to shirts too, but these are the biggest ones. With Screen Printing (Silk Screening is an obsolete term as silk is no longer used generally) you transfer ink directly to the garment one color at a time. With heat transfer, you transfer a paper with your image on it which adheres to the garment with the heat. The garment will feel smooth with screen printing since the dye is directly in the fabric, and you'll usually have a small 'hand' (stiffness) with heat transfer (though with the right materials this mostly goes away after the first wash).

The biggest advantage of screen printing is quality, whereas heat transfer offers the ability to do lots of colors easily (you have to apply each color seperately in screen printing) as well as the ability to do small runs.

smeshy123 said:
Which has cheaper start up costs?
DEFINATELY heat transfer. A good screen printing startup will probably cost you at least $10,000 to get started with, whereas heat transfer can be under $1,000, especially if you get a used press.

smeshy123 said:
Which is cheaper?
To actually produce... it varies. Screen printing is probably going to be cheaper for large quantities while heat transfer would be for small runs.

smeshy123 said:
Which is better quality?
Screen Printing. Heat transfer quality is improving though, and is nearly as good if you use quality pigmented inks and good transfer paper.

smeshy123 said:
Which Is better to produce only a few prints at a time?
Definately heat transfer. You have to set up a screen which takes time for screen printing; it's usually not worth screening less than 10-12 at a time. You can do single prints with heat transfer fairly easily.

smeshy123 said:
For Silk Screening since I've mostly researched that. For a 1pint can of ink, we will say about 1/4 of a sheet of paper is covered. Can anyone guesstimate about how many prints that will print?
No idea here, as I haven't done any screen printing myself.

smeshy123 said:
Has anyone tried to sell their own custom t-shirts on here? If so, how has it been going? Do you find it profitable? Anyone fail? If so, why?
You'll probably have a harder time making money at first if you try screen printing since it has very heavy initial costs as well as a higher learning curve. I'm still working on launching my website and such, we'll see how profitibable I'll find it after that point. Looks like it should be fairly successful though =)

smeshy123 said:
If you guys recommend Heat Printing, what are good sites to buy products for this?
I'd suggest trying to find a used heat press. Call up local t-shirt companies (phone book under 'screen printing' and 't-shirts') and ask around to see if anyone has a heat press they'd be interested in selling (or if they know of anyone who does). Also try flea markets, pawn shops, etc. You can also buy a used press online of course, but they are heavy so you'll take a hit in shipping charges. In addition, if you're buying it locally you can check it out in person, see if it appears to press fine, etc. You should be able to buy it for 1/3-1/4 the price of a new press.

As for the other materials, check out some of my other fairly recent posts. I explain the inks, paper, etc. in fair detail there.

That should answer those questions pretty well, ask away if you have more =)
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks a bunch! If I was to do screen printing I would get one of the much smaller 4-color kits for around $1000. I don't want to start with one of those companies like cafeexpress because they charge out the ear on t-shirts and I want mine to be reasonibly priced. I think $16 for the base price of a shirt is just TOO MUCH.

Also, can I print on the transfer papers with a Laser Printer I have a Oki C5150, it is full color.

Thanks for the great info!

Smesh
 

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smeshy123 said:
Thanks a bunch! If I was to do screen printing I would get one of the much smaller 4-color kits for around $1000. I don't want to start with one of those companies like cafeexpress because they charge out the ear on t-shirts and I want mine to be reasonibly priced. I think $16 for the base price of a shirt is just TOO MUCH.
Is that what the base prices are up to nowadays? Geez. That's about what the final price should be, depending on uniqueness of design and quality of materials and such, $14-20 is pretty well the norm for shirt prices.

smeshy123 said:
Also, can I print on the transfer papers with a Laser Printer I have a Oki C5150, it is full color.
They do make transfer paper for laser printers, but I have no idea what kind of quality you'll get from them. you might try asking the Heat Transfer Yahoo board and see if they have experience with those - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Heat_Transfers_For_Desktop_Printers/
 

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Twinge said:
Is that what the base prices are up to nowadays? Geez. That's about what the final price should be, depending on uniqueness of design and quality of materials and such, $14-20 is pretty well the norm for shirt prices.

Don't forget to tack on all your variable expensese into your final price.....like the cost of your web host or the cost of your supplies monthly. Then divide that up and add it onto your cost for the tshirts. (I think mine comes out to about 2 or 3 bucks onto every base price for your t-shirt. You may just want to eat that right in the beginning.......I don't think people like buying high priced t-shirts....is what I'm learning! :)
 

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Printing yourself with heat transfer, shirts are about $2.00 (for uni-sex, a little more for women's styles), transfer paper is about $0.50 - $1.00 per page (some designs can fit multiple to a page as well), ink is hard to measure but without a bulk system probably aprox. $0.75 per page (if large and colorful; probably down to $.20 per page with a bulk system). Other misc. costs would include electricity for the press, and various if you decide to pre-wash them before you send them out. Over all, about $5.00 a shirt if you make htem yourself like this - but of course, there are the other startup costs like buying the heat press (from $200 for a deal on a used one to $2000 for a high end new one), Epson printer ($150-$300 new), space for the press (maybe need to buy a desk or such to put it on...) and so on. It is fairly cheap to print them yourself but you do take a hit on the startup costs - and of course, you're doing all the WORK too, it takes time to print them, cut them, press them, ship them, etc. I still prefer it to fulfilment services myself, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all that info! Can anyone do the EXACT same thing for all the costs with screen printing? I'll start...shirt = $2.00...ok ur turn!...hehe.

Thanks!

Smesh
 

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Screen printing is harder to figure. It matters a LOT more how many you're printing at once, for example. Plus, you'll very likely have more botched attempts with the steeper learning curve. I think it'll be cheaper in the long run, but only if you survive the short run =) Someone that's actually doing screen printing should be able to reply with more detail, of course.
 

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Twinge said:
Screen printing is harder to figure. It matters a LOT more how many you're printing at once, for example. Plus, you'll very likely have more botched attempts with the steeper learning curve. I think it'll be cheaper in the long run, but only if you survive the short run =) Someone that's actually doing screen printing should be able to reply with more detail, of course.
Screenprinting is definitely a more expensive start up. The press, Inks, Emulsions, Screens, Exposing unit and a ton of other extras to many to mention here. Also, as Twinge mentioned the learning curve. I've been in the biz of embroidery and screenprinting for over 18 years. It's my humble opinion that when you can afford the equipment screenprinting will yield a much better end user product. You might also consider using services like Zazzle, 99dogs or Printmojo so you could offer screenprinting and embroidery and not have the equipment investment right away.
 

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If you want to KIND of get an idea for startup costs, go to www.customink.com and go to their online lab (by clicking on any of the tee-shirts). You can also upload any jpeg for free to see what it would look like, specify how many colors and locations on the tee shirt you want and get a price quote for it (click on 'get quote' button).....they're a little pricey but at least you can see approx. what it'll cost you to screen print some tees.

Otherwise, most screen printers charge base price for tee shirts (approx.$2 per shirt), + $20 per screen (each color is a separate screen so 4 colors=$80), $1.50 or so per location per shirt (say if you want a print on the front and a print on the back=2 locations per shirt) It'll run you a couple hundred $ to set up for one design but it's cheaper the more tees you buy. Most printers also have a minimum purchase of 12 or so tee shirts. Hope this helps.
 

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The biggest factor is bulk. If you're doing 150, the screen fee may be waived and it may only cost you about 50 cents per color/per side. If you're only doing 12, it'll probably cost you about $1.50-$2.50 for the first color and a set up fee of $20-$25.

Definately compare prices if they provide the shirt versus if you provide the shirt. The printer I've looked at charges about $5.00 for a shirt that I can get for $1.50-$2.00 wholesale, and only a marginal increase to the color fees and such when you provide the garments.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
No, I mean I want screen printing prices if I were to do it myself now if I was to get another company to do it. But thanks! Can anyone answer that for me?

Thanks!

Smesh
 

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Edit: Removed response to the spammer.

Smesh: we gave you some estimates on doing screen printing yourself too already, it's just harder to judge exact costs than heat transfer I think. And, as we emphasised, it really depends if you're planning on printing 100 of the same design at a time or 12.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Twinge said:
I wouldn't call dye sublimation cost effective; it's quite expensive and a pain for most reports I've heard. You're also restricted to polyester t-shirts (at most a 50/50 blend, but that'll fade). It is nice quality, though.

Not all people want mass customization either. Some just like to browse a shop and find a ready-made shirt idea that they like and they'll buy it as it is.

Smesh: we gave you some estimates on doing screen printing yourself too already, it's just harder to judge exact costs than heat transfer I think. And, as we emphasised, it really depends if you're planning on printing 100 of the same design at a time or 12.
Understandable, I was hoping for something a little more detailed, but I guess what I have will due. My next step in the process is purchasing shirts that are created with some of these different methods and checking out the quality...that will be done after I finish this project I am currently working on before I really get into the T-Shirt business. Thanks everyone for your replies!

Smesh
 

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Smesh,

This thread is dated a few weeks old so don't know if you have any luck with your OKI 5150N.

I just ordered one today and have found transfer paper for that model. I have some samples coming from http://jblgraphics.com/spectralaser.html

The URL lists several laser printers and the OKI 5100 is one of them. The 5150 is the newer model. JBL graphics mentioned that they recommeded the OKI 5150 as the best printer for their paper, for T-shirts and hard surfaces also. I heard about them thru a Yahoo Tshirt group so I cannot claim how well the paper works ... yet, but I'll soon find out. If you have found any other sources please let me know so I can check it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Wow, thats awsome...thanks a bunch for finding that. Let me know how well that paper works with your printer and how well it transfers.

Thanks!

Smesh
 
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