DIY printed goodies shop - advice needed

Hi guys,

I’m thinking about adding a shop to my website, and I was going to do some designs and then print them. Rather than take them to the printers, I’m thinking about getting a DIY screen printing kit, or something similar.
What would be easiest & cheapest for a complete printing newbie, but still good enough in quality to be able to sell? For cards, posters, possibly t-shirts? Open to ideas. :):woman_student:

Thank you.

Screen printing is cool. I get that. You might want to try your hand at it. I get that, too. My one piece of advice would be to consider the economics of DIY printing. Let’s say it cost you $10 per unit to get something printed professionally, and you think, I can spend $X on a screen printing kit, $X on ink, and $X on paper and print for $3 per unit (or whatever). Make sure you factor in the learning curve and your time in making prints, waste, costs that might not be included in the cost of the kit (drying racks for example), and clean up time. You might save $7 per print, but if it costs you 10 hours to make a print, are you really saving any money.

Okay, with all of that said, screen printing is cool, and if it’s a hobby you want to pursue (and, even better, a hobby you could make some money off of), go for it. If you’re thinking about this purely from a business / economical point, just make sure you consider the real cost in doing it yourself.

Cards, posters, t-shirts… There’s no “do-it-all” type of print device out there.
I’ve been in production print for 13 years. There’s a reason we have 6 print devices. Each machine produces it’s unique specialty. Two sheet fed digital devices (your cards, flyers, etc) - Two wide formats (Architectural and posters/banners) A 5 color laser printer for heat transfer sheets, And a sublimation machine for promo items (mugs, bottles, pens etc)

Now, I can say, you can pick up an inexpensive heat transfer press (t-shirts) for a couple hundred dollars (US) and a color laser printer for an additional $150-200, and a pack of self weeding transfer sheets for 50-75 bucks.

Find a laser printer that can also do 100# Cover (275gsm) and up, and this could also double as your card printer. However, you’ll have to find a way to accurately cut your printed items (one that doesn’t take you all day to do so)

Posters… could be tough - Wide format printers aren’t too expensive as far as print equipment goes. You could walk away with a near professional quality wide format for a few thousand dollars. I think Epson makes a few mini-sized ones that could maybe to an 18x24in poster in the thousand dollar range.

All ^ that said…
Printing isn’t about pushing a button (ie color issues abound.)
And not all print options are quality options.

Self weeding transfer sheets and a $150 laser printer = how many machine washings?

Epson inkjet prints on poster stock? Don’t sneeze on em or mail them in the rain, so you may want to get a laminator as well. Price of your prints just went up. And be sure you use pigmented inks. The brighter, cheaper dye base inks fade. Really fast. A matter of weeks some times.

The time and waste involved is why we don’t bring a lot of print processes in house. It’s far better for business to ship some types of printing off to the pros to do, meanwhile we go chase other work (besides, things like porcelain on steel, powder coat printing and digital phenolic are all specialty industries in themselves with huge investments in equipment.)
Time spent in production is time not spent in design or marketing.

1 Like

Thanks Steve. It would likely be more of a hobby as I don’t have all the time (or money) to make it a big part of my business. It’s not even a matter of doing something cool, it’s more that I want to do something creative which doesn’t mean sitting around all day in front of a screen. (The other screen.) Fair point with spending a lot of time and likely not getting a big return on the investment.

Thanks for the tips Biggs. This might be a thing too. I was considering printing cards at home and selling them on Etsy/website, and I guess it could work because 1. I have a relatively flexible job and would have some time to cut the printed cards, 2. I don’t expect everyone to swarm in with 100s of orders at once anyway. Unless I get really lucky. (Willing to risk this and say it could take a while to get to that point, the let’s-cross-that-bridge-when-we-get-to-it logic).

Good for you. I’m a big believer in side ventures to help keep juices flowing and help keep you fresh.

1 Like

(I’m sorry).

What about environmental friendly inks? I’m guessing expensive and not too durable? Just wondering because there’s a local lady who based her business on printing screen&lino using environmental ink, and it seems like a big selling point (along with really nice designs).

1 Like

There are commercial grade “environmental” inks out there, if you mean things like the soy based inks that are less noxious to the environment, though it tends to be the colorants rather than the base media that is more toxic. Water-based inks could be considered environmental too, but those tend to melt in the rain as mentioned earlier. If going aqueous, go pigmented, not dye based.

©2019 Graphic Design Forum | Contact | Legal | Twitter | Facebook