The day has come: you're ready to jump into the screen printing world. A key factor needed to get started in this adventure is a screen printing press. With tons of press options, it may be difficult to choose the best press to get started with. Luckily, there’s a guide to choosing the best startup press for your shop. Keep reading.
FIGURE OUT WHY
Before you start comparison shopping, weighing your options, and comparing press features, ask yourself why you’ve decided to jump into screen printing. Is it because the craft looks like a ton of fun, and you’d like to try it out? Do you have people asking you to create shirts, and screen printing seems like the best option? Or do you already have a network set up, and all you still need is the equipment to take your business off the ground?
Once you’ve figured out the “why,” choosing the best press to get started on will come to a lot easier. Here’s a guide to help you discover which press is right for your shop, no matter how you answered those questions above.
TRY IT OUT
For people wanting to dip their toes into screen printing, the 150 1x1 press is a great press to get started on. This press has one color arm and one printing arm, so you can print 1-color jobs and test the waters of screen printing. It’s perfect for small spaces like spare bedrooms, so you can add it to your craft room with no problem. It'll open your eyes to the process, and help you decide if screen printing is something you'd like to dive deep into or keep as a hobby.
If you're just getting started in screen printing, check out what advice veteran screen printers have given to people who are new in the industry. There are plenty of helpful videos and blogs out there, from seasoned printers and beginners. No matter what education you’re looking at, most screen printers give 3 tips: be patient, make mistakes, and invest in quality.
Looking for a course? That’s an option too. How To Screen Print With a Kit: 150 Edition is a completely free course that teaches beginner printers the basics of screen printing. Grab some supplies and follow along, or watch and learn.
Looking to go from a hobby to a side hustle? Keep reading.
STARTING A SIDE HUSTLE
Many screen printers get their start by printing for friends and family. Screen printing jerseys for a softball league, a family vacation, and band merch help budding printers get off the ground. To turn screen printing into a side hustle, you need a press that can handle jobs with more than one color, and enough supplies to get the job done well.
The Riley Hopkins 150 kit is perfect for you. The 4x1 press included in the kit works best for screen printers with a small clientele and big dreams. With 4 color arms and a stationary platen, you can print multi-color jobs with a press that keeps a small footprint in your space. Turning screen printing into a side hustle is a great way to diversify your income and bring in some extra cash.
Take Josh Dykstra of PRNT SCRN Screen Printing for instance. Josh works a regular job, but screen prints on the side. He got his start by printing merch for his band with a 150 press. He’s since graduated to a 250 press for extra speed and precision and works out of his garage.
Printing on a 150 4x1 creates a great foundation for screen printers. But for those looking to level up their shops, a press with more print arms and upgraded registration is the way to go.
Jerome Haygood of Aerogant Printing Company prints on a Riley Hopkins 250. Photo by Jerome Haygood.
Whether your company wants to set up shop for its own needs or you have enough customers to make your screen printing your second job, the Riley Hopkins 250 press is the way to go. This press works well for printers starting to get serious about screen printing. With extra platens, printers can work faster, flashing one garment while printing another at the same time. The 250 press also is equipped with XY micros, which allow you to adjust and register the screen with the turn of a knob.
Many printers choose a 250 press to start their own clothing brand. Shops like Aesthetic Imprints push the 250 hard all day, running pedal-to-the-metal. Good thing the press is built to last a lifetime. The little things are important to ensure your customers receive their orders on time and meet their satisfaction.
Looking for a one-stop shop? There’s a kit for that. The 250 kit includes all the equipment and supplies you’ll need to hit the ground running. Plus, the press comes 90% assembled. You’ll be printing in no time.
Want to print in the fast lane? There’s one more manual press, and it’s a beast.
Photo by Golden Press Studio.
TAKING IT FULL TIME
Quit your daytime job. It's time to make screen printing your full-time gig. After trying out one or two of the aforementioned presses and your clientele list has grown significantly, look into investing in the Riley 300 press. The press is speedy, precise, and consistent.
Some printers choose to invest in the 300 from day one. If you’re looking to make screen printing your full-time job right out of the gate, the 300 will work as hard as you do and produce stellar prints. With features like an anti-flip registration plate and XYZ micros, the press was created to make the everyday life of screen printers easier.
The 300 press also offers screen printers the option to upgrade a few features on the press. Add side clamps to the print head for extra stability when printing large screens. A laser guiding system also improves print alignment and production speed. Make this press the ultimate manual screen printing machine and go full throttle.
No matter the size of the shop or your personal interest level, there’s a press for you. Ask yourself how far you want to take screen printing, weigh your decision, and choose one that fits your needs. Check out free education on screen printing, pick up some free designs, and start printing.