How to Start A Print Shop At Home

Do you have the entrepreneurial spirit and  are looking to start your own t-shirt print shop at home? It can be an overwhelming time when you first start out wondering: What supplies do I buy? What equipment is best and cost effective? Where do I put everything and how to a keep up good maintenance? Hopefully all of your questions are answered below.

When you’re looking at buying equipment, make sure that you actually have designs that are going to give you a positive ROI. If you’re completely starting from scratch going to a local print shop and doing a run of your design and seeing if you can even sell it before investing a lot.

What You Need For Screen Printing

You will need a lot of equipment for screen printing if you are doing everything yourself. The top things to keep in mind are:

  • An exposure unit
  • Screens. (All the screens are reusable so you can put a lot of art all on one screen and then spin the screen while you’re printing a screen)
  • A darkroom
  • An ability to create your own films.
  • You can get a Reilly Hopkins JR that starts at about $600. We suggest looking at gently used printers as well if you want to be more budget friendly.

Screen printing does take up a good amount of space. You’ll need the following for setting up the big equipment:

  • 12x12ft space because you’ll need to store inks and the actual press
  • A separate area to work as your darkroom to burn your own screens

For screen printing, if you use plastisol inks you simply cure it down the dryer and if you’re doing water-based inks, they air dry and need to be completely sealed when you stored.

What You Need for Heat Press

Another great way to start your first print shop at home, is to consider doing vinyl and heat press. You can get vinyl cut by another supplier like STAHLS for cheap and they’ll ship the vinyl to you and then all you have to do is heat press it.

A decent quality heat press starts at about a $150 and go up but this can still get the job done.

What you need for DTG (direct-to-garment)

DTG allows you to do extremely complex art which you can’t really do with vinyl or with a cheap screen printing setup. The lowest starting price for a DTG machine is about $12k dollars.

A DTG machine will take up about 3 feet of space. Then you’ll need a pretreat space which is about a 4x4ft area. The DTG machines are pretty sensitive to humidity and temperature so an air-conditioned space and a humidifier to keep it moist will be helpful. .

Calculating the Cost

Businesses are typically too eager to sell their product so they end up under pricing their items. If you’re going to run your at-home print shop, here is a simple equation for pricing your products:

  • Cost of BELLA+CANVAS blank ($3) multiplied by three  =  you sell product for this much at retail.

If you don’t qualify buying blanks direct from a manufacturer, try using one of the public companies like Shirt Space who will sell you blank t-shirts online.

Outsourcing is a really great option for people who want to continue growing thriller business. The second you should be doing something else that makes you more money, is the second you start outsourcing. For example, if you have 50 more shirts to print but picking up the phone and having a meeting with someone is going to make you more money don’t print those 50 shirts yourself, send them to a larger print shop.


To learn about printing techniques for your shop, visit the blogs listed here.

To learn about business tools to drive your sales to success click here!

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