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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
About Me
Thanks for taking the time to read this guys, really appreciate the help, it truly means the world. Here's a little rundown on me and what I'm trying to do. I'm 19 years old, going to college, and with some careful thought and research I've decided to go into the screening printing business. My goal is to mostly print 4-5 spot color designs for my old high school, (possibly others), local and some regional bands, businesses, maybe a couple independent local clothing designers and whoever else I can get into contact with. Im highly motivated and ready to kick down doors in Chicago to get moving. Ideally I would love for this to blow up and get this out of my parents basement and into a real store front. but truthfully I will be happy if I payback the cost of the equipment and make some money on the side. So hear I am asking you pros on your advice, for I'm sure you have some great things to say since its coming from those who have been there and done this before.

Equipment I have in mind
Im thinking with starting off with this package from the Ryonet site silkscreeningsupplies.com
$4,395.00$
Entrepreneur Complete Screen Shop Package
*Riley Hopkins 4/4 Press w/ Joystick Registration
*16"x16" Black Body Econo Flash
*25"x36" Aluminum Exposure Unit
*KDL Washout Booth
*4 - 110 Mesh Screens 20"x24" Aluminum
*4- 156 Mesh SCreens 20"x24" Aluminum
[Plus a huge assortment of chemical and ink supplies]
-For a full detail of everything click this link-
http://www.silkscreeningsupplies.com/site/799934/product/ent44

What I Think
I feel that its a pretty good overall package to get started, my only couple concerns and questions are. . .
-Should I get a bigger better upgraded flash dryer since its going to be doing all my curing of my shirts as well?
-Are those enough mesh's to get started both in quantity and variety?
-What Inks should I buy in addition to those, and how do you guys usually go about ink colors? Do you mix your own or go and match and buy pints?
-Is this everything im gonna need to print what i have in mind in quantities of 50-1000 (1000 shirts being over hours and days with patience with this unit that is)? or am I over doing this?
-Is there somewhere else or some other way to get such a equipment at a better deal or better equipment for the same price?
-What kind of epson printer would you guys recommend to be able to print oversize transparency?


Thank you so much for taking the time in reading this if you did, you know what its like to walk into something new without any advice and hopefully you can help me. If there's anything I missed or you think I might want to know about or correct, please, please go ahead and write away.
Thanks Again

Sonny B


 

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You won't be doing too many 5-spot color jobs with a 4-color press, and curing 1000 shirts with a flash will indeed take days.
I'm not big on screenprinting packages, mainly because you buy a lot of new stuff, some of which you probably don't need immediately, and some of which is marginally adequate. You won't see too many people recommending starting with a 4-color press for exactly the reason I stated above. A 16" flash is bare minimum even for flashing, and makes using to cure large designs iffy since the edges of the print take much longer to cure then the center, if at all.
If you're at all handy with tools, you can make a good exposure unit and washout sink, and use the money to try and find a used 6-color press and a small used conveyor dryer.
And finally, that's a lot of money to put into something that you've apparently never tried, and may find you have neither the time, nor the inclination to work with after awhile. A lot of people get jazzed on printing because it looks so easy, but if you read many of these forums you'll discover that there's a learning curve that frustrates a lot of folks, and that it never really ends. In addition to spending a lot of money, do you have any art skills? Can you come up with art that is saleable, or do you have the skills to fix the bad stuff people invariably send so that you can actually get it to press and not look like crap?
Not trying to bum you out, but there's a lot more to it than just pulling a squeegie.
 

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Tom is right, skip the exposure unit and wash out booth and DIY yourself. You need much more than 8 frames even for starters.

Printing is easy. But doing professional prints on a commercial scale is another matter. If you have printed before then you should know what I mean. If you haven't printed yet, maybe it is time to try it out first and see if that's what you really want.

If you are ready to take the dive, I do think that on a commercial scale, a 6 color and 6 station press should be the minimum. BTW, what is your budget?
 

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you have the same dream most of us do..being our own boss and making it. i personally would suggest if you have never screen printed try and get into a shop and learn from someone that has made it. that way you learn and see first hand what is needed and what it takes. Also don't buy the package, rather go on CL and buy a press from someone who is looking to get rid of it...most times they are motivated sellers. I bought a older 4/4 hopkins a small conveyor $1,400 ( i wish it was a 6/6) also when you buy inks or chemicals do the math you can either buy a quart for $25 or a gallon for $50 (4 quarts = 1 gallon) prices are not actual it was just example. I didn't do my math until my wife was out buying a few supplies for me and she said why did you want a quart when gallon is only $25 more and you get 4 times as much..Also if you buy piece by piece you will get exactly what you want find a local screen printing supply store usually the person behind the counter has a wealth of information free of charge.
 

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you have the same dream most of us do..being our own boss and making it. i personally would suggest if you have never screen printed try and get into a shop and learn from someone that has made it. that way you learn and see first hand what is needed and what it takes. Also don't buy the package, rather go on CL and buy a press from someone who is looking to get rid of it...most times they are motivated sellers. I bought a older 4/4 hopkins a small conveyor $1,400 ( i wish it was a 6/6) also when you buy inks or chemicals do the math you can either buy a quart for $25 or a gallon for $50 (4 quarts = 1 gallon) prices are not actual it was just example. I didn't do my math until my wife was out buying a few supplies for me and she said why did you want a quart when gallon is only $25 more and you get 4 times as much..Also if you buy piece by piece you will get exactly what you want find a local screen printing supply store usually the person behind the counter has a wealth of information free of charge.
 

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Bump the press up to a 6 color
Upgrade the flash unit to a 18x18
You can do the washout sink yourself for about $100 from supplies at home depot, but a proper sink is nice.
I'd just stay with thier exposure unit.
As for screens, skip 110 mesh, get all 156 and higher mesh, maybe some 200 and 230 mesh.
 

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I started about 2 years ago with a one color press and 4 110 mesh screens. I did a DIY exposure unit(500 watt halogen shop light) and washout booth(25 gallon Igloo cooler) used a heat gun for my flash and a heat press for my cures. I have a $100 electric pressure washer which I have already had to re-build. I use an Epson 1400 printer for my films. I have since upgraded to a 6x2 press, a 18x18 flash(used for $300) and a 25x36 UV exposure unit(off Craigslist for $300) and am saving for a good 8 ft. tunnel dryer. I bought all this stuff with the money I made from the simple equipment. I didn't want to spend a butt load of money to start cause I didn't know if I would like doing this printing thing. Well I love it and I get to learn something new with each job I do.

So with all that being said I would upgrade to a bigger flash and I would go with a 6x4 press not a 4x4. For large films you need the Epson 4880 printer. It prints on rolls of film which is more cost effective that the 1400 in the long run. I would make my own exposure unit and wash out booth and that would save some $ which you can use for the upgrades. You need some 230 mesh screens. I wish I would have started when I was 19 and not waited till I was 45 cause this is allot of fun and it's good hard work.
 

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Screen printing really has alot of applications.. and offers a lot of opportunities to make money without having to work for someone else.
As ive been working at it though, ive encountered way more obstacles and problems than i had expected. Hard work and perseverance.
I started with a 4 x 1 press.. i would reccomend upgrading to a 6 color and getting a professional brand.. not Home based equip. their press wiggles during rgistration. Definately go with good used equipment when you can.. and piece it out dont buy a package. atlasscreensupply is where i bought alot of my inks and chemicals. and walmart when i could. paint thinner to clean up screens. get 230 mesh..

use newman roller frames! they save you soooo much time while making screens and ensuring screens are evenly taught. theres another brand.. cant remember their name. their screens are lighter but seem the tiniest bit less durable. bought mine off ebay.. 7 for $120.. and theyve been working great ever since. that way you can buy cheap mesh and stretch it yourself too.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Let me start off by saying thank you so much to everyone who responded this definitely is helping me out.
From a consensus of everyone I've gotten the following things out
-Get a 6 color press (do i really need one if i dont expect more then 4 color designs?)
-Get a Larger flash dryer
-Build a washout sink and exposure unit (can anyone provide me some links on how to build either of these?)
-Buy everything used if possible

To Answer some Questions
-I have seen how its done and watched a 6 hour dvd on a thorough walkthrough.
-I do have basic knowledge of photoshop and illustrator and if a client did not have his/her own design and were looking for some professional artwork done, I have some friends going to college for just that.
-I plan to take a silkscreening class before I jump into this as a last step

Some More Questions of Mine
-How many and what screens would you all recommend to get started?
-An Epson printer in mind to do larger then 11x8.5 print?
-A real good recource to get shirts at good prices?

thanks again guys i feel like ive really learned from what you all
have told me

Sonny B
 

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Take the class first.

See if you can convince a local screenprinter to let you come by their shop to see what goes on at a time of his convenience. Tell him you're a college student and you're interested in screenprinting. I wouldn't tell him you're looking to be a competitor. Working part time in a screenprinting business would be the best yet, but they'll give you the really crappy jobs to do, like reclaiming screens all day. You would be able to take advantage of contact with people who were actually doing the work.

As for your friends and artwork, make sure they know what it takes to produce artwork that not only LOOKS good, but can be output and will print well. I've gotten Photoshop files that looked great, but were so low in resolution that it was unusable.
 

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You may not need the 6 color press and actually you may not need one at all if you are absolutely aure that you won't be doing more than 4 colors. But for black or dark shirts, 4 colors = 5 because you need an underbase. If I were you I can get away with a 4 color press doing CMYK but it may slow down production. As labor is expensive in the US and equipments are relatively cheap, I still suggest you err on the side of a 6 color press.

As to a larger flash cure I am not really sure. Bigger is better but higher in electric consumption too. I guess you really have to decide on this one based on the type of prints you would like to do. Unfortunately though, sometimes it is the market that dictates. So maybe going for a larger flashcure, sacrificing a little on electric bill, would be "wise".

One of the best advise is "See if you can convince a local screenprinter to let you come by their shop..." By doing so, you may actually answer most of the questions yourself.

As to your friends in college that you plan to tap for artwork, I think you should try encourage them to have a basic knowledge of how screen printing works so that they have a better understanding of what type of images are more suitable for printing. They will also be doing themselves a favor.

As to screens, I have always thought of a 20x24 screens as good all around screens but I also have 20x26, 18x20, and a few assortment of sizes for sleeves and neck prints. A product of lack of planing. For me, it is nice to have just a few standard sizes but screen sizes should not be a concern now. You can readily buy them anytime.
 

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OK opinions will vary wide and far about what you need. Here's my 2 cents with my experience. As you have heard and will continue to hear, your mileage may vary.

*Riley Hopkins 4/4 Press w/ Joystick Registration - Started with this. 70-80% of any total porfolio can be done with this. 6/4 would be a nice to have. I farmed out more complex work until I became more experienced and this worked fine for me. I didn't regret having a 4/4 and it certainly is paying for itself. If I really want to upgrade it would be an automatic.

*16"x16" Black Body Econo Flash - Get's the job done, but don't rely on it as a cure station.

* Add a conveyor drier. This will be the limiting factor on your printing speed and capacity. I have the low end Black Buddy drier and I can keep it full. With more experience I know I'll want a drier with about 1.5-2X the capacity on a manual press.

*25"x36" Aluminum Exposure Unit - I hear so much about DIY exposure systems and trying to figure out exposure times, etc. I am very happy I got this with a lid and have not had any of the problems constantly hashed here about exposure times.

*KDL Washout Booth - DIY. Definitely can be done cheaper.

*4 - 110 Mesh Screens 20"x24" Aluminum - This is what i started with and is fine.
*4- 156 Mesh SCreens 20"x24" Aluminum - My first screen purchase

I would consider doubling the number of screens you have above. Gives you more capacity.

Here's the bottom line IMHO, the priority for investment.

Good Press 4/4 or 6/4 Riley Hopkins. If you know you have a need for many process or index jobs, you go with the 6/4. Even then most (80%) of your work would be fine on the 4/4.

Conveyor Drier - Expands your capacity well beyond flash only.

Exposure Unit with a lid - Take the guess work and experimentation out of exposure times.

Flash Drier - Buy the best you can afford.

Then if your budget allows:

More screens - You only need higher mesh counts for water based, specialty inks, etc and if you are just starting, farm it out and build experience with the basics before you buy the works.

Ink - You'll be sloppy and wasteful at first. A quart of ink will go a long way, but not as long as it would normally go if you had more experience.

Blanks - Buy a lot of shirts, create simple designs and print lot's of samples. You can always use these as advertising.
 

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I cannot stress enough how helpful roller frames are in my own shop. It will save you money in having screens made, plus if you go with static frames you will eventually want to have them re tensioned, more money.

Rollers make it alot easier to maintain high tensioned screens and keep them taught, plus you can make the screens yourself for the price of locking strips, frames, and mesh. plus if a screen tears for whatever reson, you can remesh the screen right in your own shop.

Re-tens make take enough frusteration out of the process to save you more than a few grey hairs, and dollars if you have to pay labor.
 

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I'm replying to your post,not to give advice on equipment and such but to tell you how I started with screenprinting since I haven't been doing it for very long. Hopefully what I went through might give you some insight into what you want to do.

About 4 years ago I bought a cutter/plotter to cut out vinyl to decorate t shirts. It wasn't long after
that I decided I wanted to learn to screenprint. I decided weeding all that vinyl wasn't the way to go.
I didn't think it was going to be that complicated but then I took some classes and did a lot of reading on the forum and learned about halftones, angles, lpi, mesh, inks, exposure units, rip software, vector software, photoshop, separations, etc. All this really had my head spinning. I had to decide what equipment to buy and I had never worked in a shop that does anything like this and didn't know if I would like it. I am also older and close to retiring from my job of 25 years and a grandmother.

When I finally got everything set up and started printing that's when all the frustration set in.
Even with micros and a pre-registration system it's still hard to line up the screens perfectly.
Also, screenprinting was not the only thing I wanted to do in my shop so I was working with dye sublimation, sandcarving, and airbrushing. I was trying to learn how to do all those things too and I was doing it alone not to mention still working full time. I didn't know anyone in the business either to go to for answers. That's why I like this forum so much. People don't mind helping you if you have a problem.

I am still working with all these things today and have worked out a lot of the frustration, most of the time.
I will say that when you print a shirt and it turns out great it's a wonderful feeling of accomplishment, esp. if it's your own design. If you are going to try to do this and go to college then you will have the same problem I have, not enough time. That alone is very frustrating. I think you really have to like doing this to stay with it. I considered quitting several times but I like doing the designs and t shirts seem to be the way to go so I'm still printing.

I don't know if this was helpful but I just wanted to say it's not an easy thing to get into and it is time consuming and if you don't really like doing it then you probably wouldn't want to stay with it. If I knew then what I know now I probably would have never started, but I'm glad I did.
I wish you a lot of success in whatever you decide. You have a whole lifetime ahead of you to do great things and it sounds like you're on the right track.
 
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