So you’re looking into designing your own unique clothing creations, but where do you start? Screen printing is when you transfer a design, usually from a stencil, onto a flat surface using a mesh screen, and then it’s transferred onto paper or fabric.
But considering you’re here, you may already know that!
If you’re just starting out with screen printing, it can be difficult to know where to start with trying to find the best screen printing machine for your project. Well, we’re here to show you some of the best beginners screen printing machines so you don’t have to look for them yourself.
We’ve also written a handy buyer’s guide to help you understand our decisions and what you should be looking out for.
In a hurry? This is our winner!
Best Screen Printing Machine for Beginners – Comparison Table
Best Screen Printing Machine for Beginners – Reviews
Best Screen Printing Machine for Beginners – Buyers Guide
So in order to make good quality graphics that you can easily transfer onto paper or a piece of clothing, you need a good screen printing machine. The question is, what kind of machine do you get?
There are so many versions of screen printing machines out there that vary in size, price, and the functions they perform. Your first priority should be to figure out what you specifically require in a screen printing machine. Here are a couple of things you should try and look out for in a screen printing machine:
Whenever you buy something, one of your first thoughts is always how much something will cost. Are you looking for something relatively cheap that will get you started, or do you need something of higher quality?
Usually, the more colors and stations a screen printing machine has, the higher they will be priced. Also, if you have a business that relies on screen printing, you’ll need a bigger, more heavy duty model.
You should try and make sure the machine that you buy is durable and will last a long time. Screen printing machines aren’t the cheapest, so you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
The materials it’s made from also determine the strength of the machine. You should try and select a machine that is made from stainless, rust-free and strong materials, which will make the machine last. You should also try and make sure the machine is safe. Ideally, you should be purchasing a machine that is free of BPA and Phthalate materials.
Number of Stations
How many garments do you want to be able to make at a time? If you’re just getting started then chances are you’ll want to only do one at a time while you get used to it, but how many could you see yourself doing after a time?
If you’re using one color on a lighter piece of clothing then the chances are you won’t need more than one printing station. You’ll need more than that if you have more to do.
If you have something that will require an under base, it will need a station. It can be irritating to wait around if you have dark clothing the needs printing, so this is something to be mindful of.
It’s totally okay to get started on smaller stuff and then work your way up too!
Number of Colors
When you’re buying a screen printing machine, you may want to get as many colors as possible. This could leave you with unused colors and really hike up the price of the machine that you use.
Every single frame uses one color at once and no more, so you should try to get a model with more frames. These types of screen printing machines are usually bigger and much heavier than models with only one color. The smaller models tend to be less time consuming too so bear this in mind.
What you should be doing before buying your screen printing machine is to try to anticipate how many colors you’re going to use and the complexity of the designs you’ll be doing. If it’s a relatively simple design, then you could get away with only one or two different colors.
Do you know how much space you need? Screen printing machines can be used for more tha just clothing, you can use them for much bigger items such as bedsheets, so naturally you will require a larger printing area for items such as these.
You should get a bigger machine if you’re going to be printing on a larger surface area, but keep in mind that this will also take up more space. You need to do what’s best for you and what will give you the best printing quality.
This isn’t a problem if you intend to keep the machine in one place, but if you intend to move around a lot it’s useful to make sure that you can easily carry the machine around with you. There are a lot of machines out there that can be transported around easily.
You should always check how much space the machine you buy will take up. After all, you need to make sure you have enough room for it on your workstation! Make sure you measure the machine and the area you intend to place it.
Also, screen printing machines can be a little heavy too so they’ll need to be placed onto a table or work space, sometimes they even need to be bolted to the surface. If you don’t have much space, you should think about getting a smaller machine that you can move around easier.
The machine you buy should be easy to adjust so you can get the best possible results. Things like the pallet, frame clamp and tension should be easy to move and adjust in order to get the best outcome for your chosen garment.
You should be able to make even the smallest of changes without problem. You’ll also need to put the design on the right spot with the right pressure. If you can’t do this, your design may not look as you envisioned it, leading to disappointment.
Easy to Use
This is perhaps the most important thing for a beginner. You need a machine that can be used easily. Smaller screen printing machines are usually a little bit easier to use as there are fewer components.
It takes a while to get used to screen printing so you need something that will help you to properly learn how to use the machine.
Accessories can be a big help in creating beautiful designs. Some screen printing machines come with things such as frames and mesh, and squeegees that help to complete the design.
Other things that can come in handy are adhesives and dryers, so you should always check if the product comes with these additions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need before using the screen printing press?
In addition to the machine, there’s a few extra things you’re going to need before you start.
- Masking Tape
- Transparency of the print image
- Flat surface
- Printing ink
- Emulsion kit
You need to make sure you have plenty of these materials before you start so that you don’t get too far into the project and need to get more materials. It can be a huge pain running out, as the design is practically wasted if you’ve already done the emulsion.
It’s best to buy everything at once so you have everything you need when you start.
How can you properly make a print with the machine?
When you’ve never done screen printing before it can be a bit daunting, yet exciting for you to get started. Here’s some things you’ll need to do:
Apply the masking tape inside and on the back of the screen so you don’t spill any of the emulsion.
Mix the emulsion and then pour it onto the screen.
Grab onto the squeegee, as this will give the design a smooth finish
Give the design time to dry off. Usually, a dark, warm room helps with this, and ensure there’s proper air circulation.
You will then need to print the image onto transparency paper with the black ink.
Once you’ve done the previous step, put the transparency upside down on the flat side of the screen. Then, get a bright light and expose the transparency to the light for roughly 12-14 minutes.
Washing the Screen
After the emulsion has hardened, wash off the screen with water.
Setting the Screen
Attach the screen to the shirt and press it down on the flat side.
Put the ink on the screen and put it on the shirt using a squeegee.
Finally, iron out the shirt on the design area to cure it.
How will the print respond to my washing machine?
Dried ink shirts are susceptible to having the ink come off when it’s met with head, which is the reason why you need to cure it after it’s finished.
As long as you’ve completed this step you have no reason to worry about the design coming off.
If you want to iron the garment, apply the heat for roughly 15 seconds and then stop. You could also use baking powder or brown paper, which you can then iron over for about 90 seconds so the garment doesn’t burn.