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Hi Guys

I've had loads of great feedback from this forum before so here I go again...

Bit of background. Last year I bought up a whole screen printing setup from a printshop which was closing down. I had some designs that I thought I could sell, I knew a few people who wanted wholesale stuff and I felt I could make a few quid with this gear. And so it went, I made some money, sold some shirts and it's ticking along.

The truth is though, it's probably not making me a profit because I keep screwing up prints and have a huge wastage rate. My orders are coming in ones and twos and I'm lacking the guts to go big on a print-run. Everyone knows that screen printing in ones and twos is very little fun. Last night I drove 8 miles to the print shop to do one shirt, while there I screwed up a hoodie and two other shirts and then drove 8 miles home in foul mood, about £15 down on the sale. Great!

I think there's still potential in the screen printing and I'm going to put myself on a course but for now I want to look at alternative print methods which might suit my needs better. It needs to be clean and simple. A bit more civilised than screen printing. maybe something that my wife can do if she quit work (can't see her being keen on getting covered in turps, plastisol and stuff). So I'm thinking some sort of heat transfers might be the way forward.

Hence, the following list of every single question I can think of. If you can answer anything at all I'd appreciate it.

Plastisol heat transfers - this is where a printshop screen prints, litho prints, or digital prints my design onto transfer paper using plastisol ink and sends it to me. I then slap it into a heat press and it adheres to the shirt, is that about right? I imagine the feel is like a high-quality screen print because it's plastisol - is that fair?

I've had a quote for plastisol transfers and they're expensive in small volumes, although not prohibitively expensive. I'm chasing some more quotes but there aren't many options in the UK - are there any worldwide suppliers who could help me and who ship to the UK?

Vinyl transfers. These would be produced with a plotter/cutter and literally cut out of a plastic sheet, right? They are sent to me on some sort of backing paper and I use the same press to stick them on? Is it correct to assume that these are better for signle colour designs as each colour has to be lined up carefully and in a time consuming process? I expect to get a very plasticky feel to these because they are literally a sheet of plastic film. I've had a quote for these and they were surprisingly expensive. It worked out about the same to buy the printer/plotter and some vinyl actually. If I did that, I would have loads of options for single-colour work, stag and hen parties (bucks and showers in USA), teamwear etc. This would allow me to rock up at car shows or bike races and print on deman wouldn't it?

Sublimation. This is basically a normal printer onto transfer paper and that gets pressed straight onto the shirt right? Not great quality though? But this is the only method for doing mugs and stuff right? Is this what Boots and Jessops use to print your photo onto mousemats and tshirts? I don't like the finish but it does give me an extra string to my bow - I can't really print photos with screens. Is this the only process I'd need a printer for? Why does Epson keep getting bigged up as the best option?

Heat presses. If I buy a good heat press, will I be able to use it for all these processes? I need a high-pressure and high-heat press for plastisol don't I? Something substantial like a Stahls? Stahls basic press OK for this? They're about £400. And can I add on a mug 'head' and a cap 'head' later?

Finally, I have a basic inkjet printer which I use for my transparencies on the screen printing - is there anything at all I can do with this and a heat press alone?

If I had £1,000 to throw at this, would I be able to get set up with vinyl plotter/cutter, sublimation printer, and heat press?

Any other advice much appreciated.

Stay frosty

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