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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey, so I'm thinking of starting to do a little bit of screen printing. My target "market" if you can even call it that is a niche one, paintball. essentially a lot of players like to wear tall t's with print on them, but i suppose thats beside the point.

Please keep in mind I am trying to keep this as cheap as possible to begin, even at the expense of some quality.

Essentially I've been looking into the process and everything, but I thought id ask exactly what people would suggest. To start I just want to get the most basic supplies. After i make some shirts, and test the waters so to speak i would be more inclined to purchase a starter kit similar to this one.
Screen Printing Starter Kit

One of my main concerns at the moment are a cost effective exposure unit. I was reading about using 500w halogen light, not sure if this would be the best option though. Would i simply set up the light shining down on the screen with the image on top, and some sort of black cloth or something underneath? and is the glass necessary to have.

The other thing was about a pallet to transfer the ink on. I've been hearing/reading that the screen shouldn't be touching the shirt, so would it work well enough to use some sort of spacer between the frame and the table or whatever it may be underneath, with clamps to keep it in place?

One other concern was about the printer. I have a generic HP photosmart all in one. I can't really afford anything new right now, so would it be ok to use for now? Im not sure if it would be better just to double up on over-head sheets, or if it would work on film positives.

If you had any recommendations on what type of ink/emulsion/screen cleaner and that type of stuff, that are sort of "bang for your buck" that would be great.

One other concern was about the printer

What i've got listed as a elementary start-up at the moment is

-squeegee
-ink
-emulsion
-screen/frame
-exposure unit
-heat gun?
-for the washing i thought using my shower may be ok. i also have a hose in the back lol, but i dont really want those chemicals on my lawn.
-cleaning products
-clamps/some sort of surface to work on.

Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated!
Joel

*Wanted to add as well, with the ink and also emulsion, can it be re-used later? like if i put on too much ink can i scoop it back up later, and same with the emulsion.
 

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My recommendation is to burn using sunlight. If you are really looking for a cheap an effective way this works well. Also to cure you can use your oven at home, slow but works.
Jason
 

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My suggestion to you is to out source you film production. Why spend a bunch of money to find out you dont want to do this anyway?


You can get your art work film ready, size it to the size you want and email it to a fellow screen printer. For a small fee you get highest quality transparencies back that will make your life so much easier. That also cuts your worries about an ink jet printer.

What i do suggest is buying a flash dryer. If you ever plan on doing white ink on a black shirt (just an example) you will most likely have to use the print-flash-print method to get a nice bright white. You can also use the flash unit for final curing of the garments. Check craigslist or ebay and you should find one.


My real suggestion is like this.

#1 Pay someone to print your shirts and you sell them.
#2 Pay someone to make your screens
#3 Pay someone to print your films.

The more you can do the more profit you will make. But to lay out $500 to "try" something is part of the reason you see "hardly used flash dryers" on craigslist. People dont realise its not as easy as it looks.


Where are you located? If youre within a reasonable distance from north NJ you can come by and I would set up up with films, ready to go screens or just basically show you how its done.


you dont want those chemicals in your shower or your drain. let them go no your lawn. youre not going to be a high volume shop so it should be fine for a couple screens. If you become high volume, youre gonna have to figure something else out or the green police will be by.
ps
Yes you can put ink back into the container and use it at a later time.
 

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One of my main concerns at the moment are a cost effective exposure unit. I was reading about using 500w halogen light, not sure if this would be the best option though. Would i simply set up the light shining down on the screen with the image on top, and some sort of black cloth or something underneath? and is the glass necessary to have.
You don't need to have a high end exposure unit to produce good burns. I made my own expsure unit out of wood and a 500W halogen work lamp and it works great! The glass is necessary to have. It ensures proper contact between the film and the screen mesh. That way no light will bounce around underneath the film which could ruin the burn.

The other thing was about a pallet to transfer the ink on. I've been hearing/reading that the screen shouldn't be touching the shirt, so would it work well enough to use some sort of spacer between the frame and the table or whatever it may be underneath, with clamps to keep it in place?
Yes, you should have "Off Contact" between your screen and your substrate. I have a 4 color Silver Press and to ensure good off contact, I taped a quarter to the very edge of the platen and it has worked great!

One other concern was about the printer. I have a generic HP photosmart all in one. I can't really afford anything new right now, so would it be ok to use for now? Im not sure if it would be better just to double up on over-head sheets, or if it would work on film positives.
Test it out! I used to double up on transparencies to ensure a dark enough image. Honestly though, purchasing a printer that will produce dark enough images with only one transparency will save you money in the long run.

Just think, if you ordered 100 sheets of transparencies and had to double up, you paid for 100 sheets but only got 50 uses out of them. If you have a good printer such as the Epson 1400 (which is what I use now), you made the most out of your purchase. Just something to think about.

*Wanted to add as well, with the ink and also emulsion, can it be re-used later? like if i put on too much ink can i scoop it back up later, and same with the emulsion.
Yes, you can re-use any excess ink or emulsion that may turn up.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
thanks a lot for the replies, they really helped! unfortunately (as far as your offer goes anyways) im in ontario, canada so that isn't really a possibility lol. thanks anyways though! ill take everything into consideration. to be honest i really want to pursue doing this, even if its just small time. i realize that seems like a generic and over-used statement but i feel it's geniune.
i suppose i should add that im mostly going to be making shirts, and not so much designing them. depending on how everything plays out i may get my friend to do design work.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
hey so another quick questions. can the screens be stored after they are used at all? or does it need to be cleaned and redone at a later date.

also probably not the place for this but does anyone know this compucap guy? he pm'd me about plastisol transfers and it just seemed like spam to me. his message read:

"Setting up for direct printing can run up to several thousand dollars. You may consider a quality heat press ans outsourcing custom transfers.

Some reasons:

A low initial investment ( $1000 for shirt and cap press) allows the flexibility and control of applying your designs in house and having them printed on transfer paper by an outside source. One advantage of transfers is less risk than printing shirts that you may not be able to sell (who knows what sizes, styles, and colors will sell?) , and to have extra transfers on hand for repeat orders. Even most direct printers do not like to (or are not able to) print caps. Pocket size transfers for shirts and cap prints can be gang printed on one sheet, quantity limited only by size of the image . A great advantage of cold peel plastisol transfers is opacity and durability. Next to direct prints they are the most durable choice and certainly the most versatile. Our company has been printing ONLY custom transfers for 18 years. We also sell new and used heat presses.
We can help ! "
 

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you can store it on a shelf for a little while even with the ink in it. But thats like a week or so. Any long and its gonna be clogged and a pain to use the next time. If you clean the excess ink out you can store the screen for a long long long time (in a nice enviornment-no heat-nocold-no sun,etc)...like years and it will be ready to go when you need it. But at that point, why are you storing it for so long?
 

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The longer you store screens the harder they are to reclaim and the more money you have sitting on the shelf making you no money. If you do store them be sure to clean the ink out as this will stain the mesh and is just plain lazy...besides 10 screens with 1/10th of a pot of ink on them adds up to 1 pot of ink that you paid for that should be on a shirt returning a profit.

If your 'testing the waters' and have capital then just get some shirts printed by a local screen printer and concentrate on selling. Then a bit further down the line when you want to reduce costs and bring some production in house you'll have a better idea of what shirts sell and what items don't which will give you a better understanding of what equipment you will be best getting.

If you have a market and an Idea then why bring the whole world of hurt that is production into it - its so much more that a few hundred bucks worth of equipment to do it properly and make a profit. Give all the production headache to someone else and take pleasure in creaming a 300% mark up for just a bit of salesmanship.:)
 

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As far as your design transparencies, Kinkos. If you do the print online option, it's only $2 - $3. When you consider the cost of a printer, the ink, and transparencies, it's way cheaper. Transparencies alone are $1 each. I can print 6 of them at a kinkos for $3. Also, I agree with everyone else, a Flash dryer is a must, especially if you plan on doing more than 10 shirts. You'll know why the first time you try to dry that many shirts when you're in a hurry.
 

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Your first mistake will be to sacrifice quality to save money. You'd be better off printing simple designs that print easily, look good and wear well as complex stuff beyond your level of expertise that comes off as amateurish looking. Experience will make you better, but if your work looks like crap, you won't be getting those orders in to gain that experience.
 
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