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T-shirt Screen Printing Materials

T-shirt Screen Printing Materials Checklist For Beginners

Struggling with what materials to buy for your new start printing business?

At the beginning everyone does.

Now, you don’t want to squander your budget at unnecessary and fancy items.

Instead, you must make shrewd investments to start a successful venture with minimum investment.

To help you out, I’m going to share a checklist of materials that will enable you to kick-start a successful printing business.

Let’s get started.

The Design

First, you need an attractive and marketable artwork. After all, it’s the design which consumers are paying for.

There are various ways to create beautiful artworks.

You can draw a design with your own hands or use computer software to generate the artwork.

Another option is to buy artworks or hire an experienced t-shirt designer to work for you on a constant basis.

Keep the t-shirt material in mind while creating the design. For example, if it has textures, then fine lines won’t go well with it and may ruin the entire project.

Manual Press

If you are looking forward to expanding the business in future, then go for a versatile press that is able to print multiple colors. Lack of versatility will restrict your options and cost you potential clients.

Don’t worry about the price as a great press pays for itself over time.

While the 8-color press is the best in the market, 6-color press will also suffice.

However, if you are working on a budget, you can start with a 4-color press, with which you can get your business up and running.

The Screen

A screen will be required to make the stencil, through which the ink will pass onto your shirt.

It can be bought from a store, or you can build one for yourself. You can use either wood or aluminum to make the frame. I’d suggest that you go with aluminum as it’s more durable than the wood frames.

The screens should be large enough to accommodate the designs.

It would be foolish to use same mash count for every screen.

For designs of standard detail, 110 mash count should serve well, however, for more detailed design a screen of higher mash count will be required.

Keep in mind that you would need a separate screen for each color.

That means, if your design includes 4-colors, you’d need a separate screen for each of them.

Inkjet Printer

Producing the design accurately on the film positive is crucial to creating a perfect stencil. If the film lacks required opaqueness, you won’t be able to make a great stencil.

Several excellent inkjet printers are available on the market that you can choose from.

The professionals use printers such as Epson and Xanté with the RIP software.

The RIP software is conditioned to help your PC and printer to produce 100% opaque outputs. The biggest obstacle is its high price. It can cost you from 400$ to more than 1000$.

But cheaper options such as QTR, which is shareware version of the RIP software and made for Epson printers, can be a fine alternative.

See Also: Laser Printer-Check Our Expert Choice


The screen needs to be coated with the liquid chemical called the emulsion. It is sensitive to light and becomes most sensitive when dry.

You can apply the emulsion with either scoop coater or a Squeegee. The scoop coater may serve your purpose better as it provides a more consistent and even distribution of the emulsion.

You will want the emulsion to be thick, as it makes the stencil deep and provides more room for the ink to be deposited on the shirt.

Exposure Unit

After applying the emulsion, you will need to cure the liquid by exposing it to the light.

For that, you will need to place the artwork inside an exposure unit.

Remember that, Printable areas of your print will be completely black. These black areas will block the light from exposing the emulsion.

As a result, the covered areas will continue to remain water soluble while the exposed emulsions will no longer remain so.

That means emulsion that wasn’t exposed to the light will dissolve when washed with water.

An exposure unit comes in different sizes. A medium sized exposure unit should serve the purpose well.

Washout Booth

Following the exposure to the light, you will need to rinse both sides of the screen with water.

Once the uncured emulsion gets wet, it’s safe from regular sunlight.

While spraying the screen with water, an undeveloped image of your design will become visible to you. No need to rush it. The emulsion will wash out eventually.

Afterward, give the screen time to dry out completely. Meanwhile, be careful not to let anything get in contact with the screen.

Conveyor Dryer

A conveyor dryer is a must if you are expecting a lot of business.

Don’t let the price put you off as the investment will pay itself back.

Flash Dryer

If you are planning to print on dark garments, then a flash will be needed.

No need to spend on an expensive flash dryer, as a basic one is good enough to get the job done.


Some basic colors will need to be purchased to get things underway.

However, there’s no set rule regarding colors you can buy. You can purchase as many colors as you need.

Scale And Quart Container

A scale will be needed to weigh the ink for a mixed system.

The quart container is required to mix the inks.

Curable Reducer

It is needed to make the ink thinner.

Tape Gun

It’s essential to tape the inside of the screens before you start printing.

Getting a tape gun will make things simple for you.

Emulsion Remover

It is used to remove the emulsion from the screen so that you can reuse the screen in future.

Scoop Coater

A scoop coater is required for coating the screens with emulsion.

Ink Solvents

Chemicals used to remove the ink and clean the screen.


To sum up, to start a screen printing business, these are the things that you must procure.

Admittedly, they will deplete a substantial portion of your savings, but once you have set the business and the money starts rolling in, it will more than compensate for your initial investment.

So, write down the name of the materials if you need to, and then start shopping.

Wish you luck!

James M. Rai has been screen printing T-shirts and other textiles professionally and as a hobby for more than 15 years. During that time, he owned and operated a small screen printing shop in northern California for more than 7 years. More recently, James has gotten involved with Cricut and other cutting machines.


  1. I need to start a t-shirts printing business so I don’t know where to find all the materials.

  2. What do i need to start a t shirt business. I want to make use of screens. How do you make the stencils?

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