A screenprinting business doesn’t require many components to start. In fact, you can set it up in your garage. However, having a basic understanding of the process is necessary. Even with the basic knowledge, you can start a business and upgrade your skills.
When it comes to screenprinting, you require a mesh to transfer ink onto a surface. The application of a stencil with openings ensures the ink creates the correct image. Use a squeegee to get the ink evenly spread on the stencil-intended openings.
The squeegee equally distributes the ink on all openings and can only deliver one type of color at a time. In the case of an image with numerous colors, make use of multiple screens.
It’s essential to realize the process has always relied on a type of fabric with the original being silk. It explains why the process is also called silkscreen printing. Now, many printers use screens made using polyester materials.
Apart from silk and polyester, you can also use stainless steel and nylon screens. It’s crucial before you delve into screenprinting that you get familiar with its origins.
The Origins of Screenprinting
Silkscreen printing traces its roots back to China at around 960 AD. Earliest indicators prove that the Chinese utilized this method of printing. Slowly, it spread from this region to other Asian countries, including Japan.
It’s only later in the 1700s that the method of printing made its debut in Europe. Nonetheless, its reception was nothing to write home about. Many people still preferred to buy prints originating from Asia due to their intricate designs.
Screenprinting was later industrialized at the start of the 20th century. Manchester UK was where the first screenprinting industry was set up and patented in 1907. At the time, only one color was famous for printing.
Multicolor was born in San Francisco at the hands of John Pilsworth, who invented the Selectasine method. You could now use one screen to achieve color variations in print. Now, people could print out numerous items like posters in multiple colors, attracting more attention.
Today, little has changed in the basics of screenprinting. However, the process is more refined due to the computerization of the printing process. As you move ahead to building a company, it’s best first to understand how screenprinting works.
How Screenprinting Work
The basics of screenprinting remain relatively the same, even after the computerization of the process. The process requires a frame over which a mesh is extended. It’s what makes the screen. Many companies use a mesh of different materials, but the most popular are nylon and polyester.
Screenprinting relies heavily on the mesh extension to exert force and create a fine print. That’s one primary feature of this process that hasn’t changed since the Song Dynasty. Failure to stretch the mesh creates blotchy images.
The first frames were made of wood, which was the most readily available material. Many companies that have resisted computerization still use wooden frames. However, frames come in different materials like metals.
Handcrafted prints don’t require any machinery, and all frames are wooden. It helps to create an authentic artistic feel that lacks in machine-generated prints.
Screenprinting requires using these frames to spread the mesh creating a screen. Parts of the screen require plugging to create a design to be printed. All spaces left unplugged will produce the intended image on the surface.
Once the screen is spread on the frame, it undergoes an initial spread of the ink. It’s an essential part of the screenprinting process. The ink is left to dry and then placed under UV light to make it harder, shaping the intended image.
After that, the ink is washed using water, and the screen is ready for printing. After that, ink is spread using a squeegee. It can easily pass through the screen, creating the desired image. Remember to take extra caution when printing on clothes to avoid ink spreading.
You can tape the screen and frame with tape, keeping the ink on the intended area. Stains can ruin the appearance of the image. It’s better to take the necessary steps to prevent any accidental blotting even on canvas.
Commonly, screenprinting takes place in two ways which are:
When you decide to set up a rotary screenprinting, know it’s a continuous process. It only utilizes a porous cylinder/screen. Ink travels through each of these screens after pumping.
After the ink spreads onto the cylinders, it’s pasted on a piece of fabric using squeeze blades. It’s the work of these squeeze blades to make sure the intended image comes out correctly. The cylinders roll at a speed of approximately 50 meters per minute.
You require multiple screens if you want to print various colors. Also, be ready to get numerous screens for this type of printing.
Many companies use roller screenprinting, making it the most popular. Most use it when producing large quantities of prints, especially on a commercial basis. Many manufacturers prefer it because it can provide detailed prints no matter how repetitive they are.
It’s important to note that only copper rollers are used and need to be engraved before printing. It makes it time-consuming to change the pattern for another print.
After understanding how screenprinting works, now comes the part of setting up a screenprinting business. Like any other type of business, a business plan comes in handy.
Setting Up a Screenprinting Business
You might have started it as a hobby creating t-shirts with print to sell to family and friends, or perhaps it was for an event. No matter how you got started, screenprinting businesses are prevalent. Decide right from the start how big you intend the company to grow.
To get started, look around your area and do some market research. What items are in demand? Are they t-shirts for events or with colorful messages? Perhaps, they are sweatshirts in a colder climate or scarfs. This necessary information can be a great guide as you start.
Once you grasp what’s on demand, decide where you want to locate your workshop. Instead of incurring rental costs, you can set it up in your garage. Clear it out and get the required machinery. That way, you can print at a lower price and sell your merchandise online.
Later, when the operation exceeds the current space, you can relocate to a bigger premise. For additional cost-cutting measures, set up an online shop. In 2020, it’s best to have an online business. Start by creating a website, and then connect the store to all your social accounts.
Remember, as you write down your business plan, figure out all the initial costs. After that, know where to source the starting capital. Opting for the best machinery might be costly at first, but works to your advantage later on.
By cutting out the cost of renting space, you can invest in good screenprinting machines. Additionally, upgrade your printing skills. You might have only done it as a hobby so far. For a business, take a class or two to refine your printing and business skills.
A screenprinting business requires a particular printer except if you want to do it the old way. You can either make your business commercial with digital printing or market is as more artisan. A simple commercial printer can cost below $10000.
Next, get as many t-shirts, sweatshirts, or scarfs as possible. Get the ones made using quality material and market the final product as such. Since you’re working from home, you cut costs for renting a place.
After getting the required equipment and setting up a website, let everyone know you’re in business. If you opt to be a sole proprietor, marketing and production are on you. Later, you can hire additional staff as the company expands.
Proper Marketing and Pricing That Creates a Profitable Business
As earlier mentioned, you might have a history in screenprinting, but as a hobby. All the people who enjoyed your earlier designs make for perfect brand ambassadors. Have a conversation with them and let them know you’re now a fully functional business.
Apart from them, there are social media sites that are perfect for marketing to a broader audience. Due to faster global shipping, you don’t have to limit your customer base. Go for more refreshing and current designs that appeal to many people.
For example, you can create t-shirts with catchphrases that the teenagers across the world enjoy. Check out the latest trending hashtags. If you get them out on time, you can capitalize on that demand. Utilize a reliable shipping company to keep your customers satisfied.
As for pricing, with reduced costs, you can calculate better prices for each product. For example, if the total cost of printing one t-shirt is $20, you can price it from $25 to $30. At $35, you offer free shipping.
Apart from online sales, visit local companies and offer to print their company t-shirts. Also, there are groups, schools, and other organizations. Then, plan to expand this branch of the business across the country.
Setting up such a business is possible. You can set it up in your garage or that of a friend. With a basic understanding of this process, you can make samples and market widely. Screenprinting isn’t new to the world, and demand is at an all-time high. With the rise of online markets and fast shipping, you can reach an even broader market.