For many of you, starting a t-shirt business is a dream and passion you’ve been contemplating for a while. And when you finally make the decision to move forward, many seem to think that screen printing their own t-shirts is the route to go. In this post, I’ll attempt to explain why I think screen printing your own t-shirts suck, and why t-shirt transfers rule!
I get a ton of questions about using the heat press method, versus the screen printing method; and for the first time ever, I express my hatred for screen printing!
Lot’s of people seem to think screen printing is easy and cheap. It ain’t easy! And I often wonder why anyone getting into business would want to fool with all the ‘processes’ required to screen print a t-shirt…
Watch the video below to see what I mean… You have to go through all this drama to make new designs — while you’re watching this video, just imagine the cost to get all this stuff… and imagine how much MESS you gotta clean up when you’re done!
You had to go through all that drama to make a 1-color t-shirt. Imagine the process if you had 3-4 colors on a design! You’d have to do everything you just did in the video above 3-4 times!!!
In fact, here’s another video about this very thing…
I imagine most people wanting to start their own t-shirt business to promote their own line of t-shirts/designs don’t want to have to go through all of this… Now if you’re in the business of making t-shirts for other businesses, then I can see why you need to go the screen printing route. But for the individual who wants to promote their own line of tees, there is a cheaper and faster alternative that provides the same quality!
Another thing about screen printing is you must order a huge inventory in order to get a decent price break. Not only that, to have a decent amount of inventory, you’d have to order a bunch of small, medium, large, and extra large tees to have on-hand.
Then you’ll need to get it in white, black, gray, navy blue, green and so on…. You have to get all these sizes and colors because you don’t know beforehand what someone will order, therefore, causing you to purchase a huge inventory to have on hand when someone orders. Before you know it, you’ll have 2,500 t-shirts sitting in your garage hoping someone orders everything you got.
I like custom t shirt heat transfers better because you don’t have to print up a huge inventory of tshirts that’ll just sit on a rack. I like this route because I can print on demand. I like this route because I don’t have a big nasty mess when I’m done. Plus I can print t-shirts in a spare bedroom, or at the kitchen table.
NOW… the transfers presented in this video are NOT the same ones you find at the local Wal-mart. And no, these aren’t the type of transfers you run through your printer that’s connected to your home computer.
These transfers are a special paper whereby a screen printer takes your design and makes an actual screen as shown in the first video; but instead of printing your design onto a t-shirt, they put the design onto this ‘special release’ paper (transfer sheet), that allows you to transfer the design at a later date (on-demand).
So… instead of having 2,500 t-shirts pre-printed up and waiting for someone to purchase, you get these transfers and make t-shirts as the orders come in.
This is a very quick process with no messy inks to cleanup. You can literally make a t-shirt in less than 10 seconds.
This method also works on any colored t-shirt and yes, that includes your ability to print onto black colored tees as well!
The designs transferred onto the t-shirts are the same inks used by screen printers. Ironically, if you took ‘these’ tshirts to a screen printer. The vast majority would not be able to tell you it was done with a heat transfer. The inks are identical and there’s no misty film going around your design when you use this process.
I have t-shirts I printed 10 years and they still look great… just a slight wear from washing and drying over 10 years, but what shirt wouldn’t show stress after 10 years of wear and tear?
The cost is fairly inexpensive… Like screen printing, it’s based on the quantity you order and the number of colors in the design.
You can actually get these for as little as .50 cents a transfer (with the design on it)… but again, it’s all based on quantity and number of colors.
Many companies can have your design put onto this ‘release paper’ and shipping out to you within 24 hours of ordering… Some offer same day service.
This is why I love the t-shirt heat transfer method.
The biggest expense you’ll have is getting the heat press machine. If you don’t mind getting a used one, you can find these on craigslist.com for as little as $200-$400. If you want new, expect to pay around $750 and as much as $1,999; all dependent upon what you’re wanting. They come in different sizes and I recommend getting nothing smaller than a 16×20 (which is what I’m using in the video).
Fact of the matter is this, the t-shirt transfers are actually made from the same inks used in screen printing. In fact, the transfers are made the same way t-shirts are.
Bottomline: The t-shirt transfer process is simple. Someone else does all the work and sends you the completed transfer. It’s not messy, it doesn’t take a long time, you don’t have to wait for your inks to dry, etc….
Let me know what you think, share your comments or ask questions…