Ever wonder how to start a silk screen business? It costs almost nothing to start a t-shirt printing business at home. I read about one guy who started a screen printing business with almost nothing. He made the screens with used lumber, and fabric from an old wedding dress. He screen printed signs, which he sold. He also screen printed magnets, and shirts, and baseball caps. He actually made his own screen printing press. In fact I bought the plans from him on ebay for his screen printing press, and built my own.
At one point I seriously looked at starting my own screen printing business. I ultimately decided there were other things I would rather do. But it wouldn’t be that hard, or expensive. It would cost under $100 to buy the stuff to screen print t shirts. The absolute minimum stuff you would need would be a screen, photo emulsion, a cheap light, ink, squeegee, masking tape, and t-shirts. For another hundred, you could buy a single shirt screen printing press. Screen printing a t-shirt only uses pennies worth of ink for each shirt. You can get blank shirts on sale at Michaels for $3-4 each. Or you can buy them in quantity for cheaper. I have seen boxes of shirts for sale on ebay.
What I have seen some people do is print shirts, and sell them on ebay. If that is what you are interested in doing, check out eBay, and find what kind of shirts people are buying. Are they buying dog shirts, cat shirts, karate shirts, etc. Find which shirts are selling. Develop your own original artwork, print a few shirts, and list them on ebay.
Some other screen printing business opportunities would be bands, baseball teams, family reunions, etc. If you know someone who needs t-shirts offer your services, and make a small profit. Make sure you do a good quality job. After you have done some jobs, you will likely get referred business by word of mouth. You can always get some business cards printed up, and post them on bulletin boards in your area.
If you have some other ideas, or questions on how to start a silk screen business, feel free to post here.

Screen printing frames can be expensive. And the better the quality of the frames, the more you should expect to pay for them. Sometimes you can find used screen printing frames. A good place to look is on eBay. You can generally find anything on eBay including reclaimed screen printing frames. Even new frames can sometimes be found for good prices. Be sure to know what you are getting. If you get a bunch of frames that are completely trashed, they aren’t going to do you much good. You might be able to find quality frames that are missing the mesh. Depending on the frames, the mesh might be able to be replaced. Be sure to compare the prices of the used screen printing frames against the prices for new screens. There is no sense in buying used screens unless you are going to get a good deal. And make sure they are the right size for your needs.

I have included an eBay search below in which you might find some used screen printing frames. Good luck!

When I first started screen printing, I just had a frame, and a piece of plywood that I would shove inside the shirt. It worked, but not great. Later, I found plans for a 4 color screen printing machine listed on ebay. I invested the five or ten bucks, and bought them. I built the screen printing machine, though I had to modify the design some. I have been using it ever since. I have only ever done single color printing with it though. If I had better screens, maybe screens with aluminum frames, I might try multiple color. But for the most part, single color printing is mostly what I want to do anyway. And the screen printing press I built worked fine for that.

If you are going to be printing many t-shirts, I seriously recommend that you look at screen printing machines. The benefit of screen printing machines is that you can slide the t shirts onto the board and they will be positioned the same everytime. Also when you drop the screen onto the shirt, the screen won’t move, giving you cleaner results. Also, if the ink didn’t get good coverage, you can drop the screen back onto the shirt, and do another pass and have a shot of getting a good shirt. If you have a loose screen, and don’t get good ink coverage, forget it. Just throw the shirt away. So a screen printing machine will save you money on wasted shirts, and give you better results.

I found that Dick Blick sells a bunch of screen printing machines, including a single color screen printing machine probably for less than what I built mine for. I wish I had seen that before I built mine.
They ever sell some really cool higher end screen printing machines such as the Dynamic 4-Color Screen Printer and the Jennings Professional 1-Color Press.

I mostly do single color printing on t shirts. So I can get away with using screens with cheap wooden frames. The wood frames warp a little which would hinder multicolor printing, but don’t affect single color screen printing really.
But one of the problems I have had with cheap wooden frames is the screens sometimes come loose. They are only held in by a pressed in cord. You can press the cord back in, but the screen will till be loose.
The solution I came up with was to remove the cord altogether. I position the screen over the wooden frame, and with a staple gun, I staple the screen to the frame in the middle of one edge. The I go to the opposite edge, pull the screen taut, and staple the screen to the frame in the center of that edge. Now go to one of the sides that hasn’t been stapled yet. Pull the screen half-taut, and staple in the middle there. Go to the opposite side, pull the screen taut and staple.
Now you should have staples in the center of all four sides of the frame. Go to a side, pull the screen taut, and place staples a half inch on either side of the staple that is there. Go to another side and repeat. Keep pulling the screen taut and stapling until you have staples every half inch around the frame. After you have stapled the screen to the frame, go around, and tap the staples down with a hammer, so the don’t stick up at all.
You can trim some of the excess screen off. Don’t get too close to the staples though.

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