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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a sign shop and we print a lot of decals for various companies. Many companies want t-shirts with their decals and we have a few companies that want small runs of t-shirts that they will probably order a few times a year. I've researched DTG printing, and having had vinyl printers in the past that required large amounts of daily maintenance, I'm not interested. Plus the cost of entry is high. However, it seems relatively inexpensive to get into screen printing. Here are some specific questions I have, maybe you can help me:

  1. Is it practical or possible to keep screens setup to be able to quickly print the same order in the future?
  2. What is the minimum start stop time for a short run of 2-color t-shirts?
  3. What are the health concerns and ventilation needs for plastisol inks?
 

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Screens will not last very long after you have exposed them and washed them out. Not alot of vent needed for inks. Will need a dark room and wash out station in order to expose your screens and reclaim them when you are finished with the order.
 

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Is it practical or possible to keep screens setup to be able to quickly print the same order in the future?

If you're using plastisol inks then yes, screens can be stored indefinitely. It's best to clean them with mineral spirits or press wash after use though so they don't pick up dust.

What is the minimum start stop time for a short run of 2-color t-shirts?

Well only you can decide what your time is worth. Personally I won't print a job with less than 10 shirts per screen.

What are the health concerns and ventilation needs for plastisol inks?

Plastisol inks have a very low volatile compound content and give off very little during the curing process. I don't even run my ventilator when printing plastisol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Let's say I already had the screen ready to go from a job we'd already done, 2 color shirt, run of 12. What is the practical time from starting to washing and putting that screen back on the shelf you think?
 

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DTG sounds great, but when you purchase your printer and get started, you realize how slow the print process is, and how temperamental the equipment actually is i.e. heads dry with ink in them if you don't run it every day. Also, you end up spitting out several dollars of ink every time you turn it on to purge the system. The inks aren't cheap either. If I were you, I would stay away from DTG printing. We have a Kornit and we thought it was a great idea, but unless your running it every day, and on shirt orders of less than 50 per run, it's a tough business to be in.

Regarding screen printing ... It is not as inexpensive as you might think. You have to get wash out booths, a UV curing unit, a printer capable of printing very dark films for making screens, the press, the inks etc ...

My recommendation is to partner with a local contract screen printing company and if you see your screen printing take off, then go make an investment. There is a learning curve, and you don't want to be in a situation where you are spending all day trying to print a 25 shirt order, when your sign customers are wondering where their orders are.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
My recommendation is to partner with a local contract screen printing company and if you see your screen printing take off, then go make an investment. There is a learning curve, and you don't want to be in a situation where you are spending all day trying to print a 25 shirt order, when your sign customers are wondering where their orders are.
Good advice. Thank you. We also just found out that a friends business is getting an in-house screen printing setup. They've offered to let our company use it when we like since they will only be using it a couple hours a week. Might be a good way to see if it's practical for us.
 

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I have a sign shop and we print a lot of decals for various companies. Many companies want t-shirts with their decals and we have a few companies that want small runs of t-shirts that they will probably order a few times a year. I've researched DTG printing, and having had vinyl printers in the past that required large amounts of daily maintenance, I'm not interested. Plus the cost of entry is high. However, it seems relatively inexpensive to get into screen printing. Here are some specific questions I have, maybe you can help me:

  1. Is it practical or possible to keep screens setup to be able to quickly print the same order in the future?
  2. What is the minimum start stop time for a short run of 2-color t-shirts?
  3. What are the health concerns and ventilation needs for plastisol inks?
You might consider either printing or outsourcing plastisol transfers. They are easy to store, and with a heat press, you can turn out shirts very rapidly. To print yourself, you would have most of the same equipment involved with screen printing plus a couple extra items. Advantages, you can print a minimal amount and store the transfers out of the way for rapid access and fulfillment should you need them in a hurry. You don't print or press till they need them so you are able to use your blank t-shirt inventory for other customers. If you decide to out source, you are looking at minimal amount to get started then you can store the extra transfers for later use. Several vendors here produce plastisol transfers and many more if you need them. Hope this helps.

CalhTech
 
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