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T-shirt Printing Business Equipment Guide – 2024 (For Beginners!)

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Ever wondered what it takes to start a T-shirt printing business?

I’ve been there, so I know how overwhelming it can be to figure out what equipment you really need.

That’s why I put together this guide—for beginners like you and me.

In this post, I’ll break down all the gear you’ll need, from basic software and marketplaces to printers and presses.

If you’re serious about turning T-shirt printing into your business, you’re going to want to read this.

Ready to find out how to get started? Let’s dive in!

Equipment Required To Start a T-shirt Printing Business

If you’re considering starting a T-shirt printing business, there’s some essential equipment you’ll need to get going. Let’s break down from the basics:

1. Software, Marketplaces and Tools

  • Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a powerhouse for creating detailed T-shirt designs. It’s got everything from layers and masks to custom brushes and effects.

Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop

I love it because you can get really creative, playing with colors, textures, and intricate details to make your designs unique.

It might seem daunting at first, but there are tons of tutorials and resources online to help you get the hang of it.

If you’re serious about T-shirt printing, mastering Photoshop can open up a whole new world of possibilities.

Pricing Model:

  • Individual Plan: $22.99 per month for access to Photoshop only.
  • Creative Cloud All Apps Plan: $59.99 per month for access to Photoshop and all other Adobe Creative Cloud applications (e.g., Illustrator, InDesign).
  • Canva

If Adobe Photoshop feels a bit too advanced, Canva is a perfect alternative.

It’s simple, user-friendly, and designed for people who aren’t professional designers.

Canva Homepage
Canva Homepage

You can start with pre-made templates and drag-and-drop elements to create your T-shirt designs.

Canva has a huge library of graphics, fonts, and images that you can use to customize your creations.

It’s great for quick, easy designs without the steep learning curve. Plus, it’s cloud-based, so you can work on your designs from anywhere.

Canva follows a freemium model where it offers you both free and pro plan.

Pricing Model:

  • Canva Pro Monthly: $15/Mo For One Person
  • Canva Pro Yearly: $120/Year For One Person
  • Creative Fabrica

Creative Fabrica is a designer’s dream, packed with thousands of fonts, graphics, and digital assets to make your T-shirt designs stand out.

Creative Fabrica
Creative Fabrica

What sets it apart is the Print-On-Demand (POD) license, allowing you to use their designs on T-shirts you sell without any copyright worries.

The subscription model is super budget-friendly—you get unlimited access to everything without buying each design individually.

Plus, they offer thousands of free resources for you to try out. With Creative Fabrica, you can create with confidence and keep costs low.

Pricing Model:

  • Yearly All Access: $47/year

2. Heat Press Machine

heat press machine

A heat press machine is a critical piece of equipment for a T-shirt printing business, especially if you’re using heat transfer vinyl (HTV) or sublimation printing.

It applies heat and pressure to transfer designs onto T-shirts.

Heat press machines come in various sizes and configurations, from clamshell to swing-away models, each offering different advantages in terms of ease of use and versatility.

When choosing a heat press, consider factors like temperature accuracy, pressure control, and the size of the platen to ensure it meets your business needs.

3. Printer

When starting a T-shirt printing business, selecting the right printer is crucial.

Here’s an overview of the most common printer types for T-shirt printing, along with their benefits, use cases, price ranges, and some recommended models:

Printers For T Shirt Business
Printers For T-Shirt Business

1. Inkjet Printers

Inkjet printers are affordable and versatile. They can be used with transfer paper to print designs that are then transferred onto T-shirts using a heat press. This method is great for small-scale operations or for testing out designs without significant upfront costs.

Use Cases: Ideal for beginners or small businesses that want to print on light-colored T-shirts. They work well for home-based businesses or small shops.

Price Range: Typically between $100 and $300.

Recommended Models:

  • Epson EcoTank ET-15000
  • Canon PIXMA G6020
  • Brother MFC-J995DW

2. Sublimation Printers

Sublimation printers use special dye-based inks that turn into gas when heated, allowing the ink to bond with polyester fabric. This results in vibrant, durable designs with a soft feel. It’s perfect for creating colorful, detailed prints.

Use Cases: Best for printing on polyester or polyester-coated materials. Ideal for sportswear, custom merchandise, or high-quality T-shirts.

Price Range: Typically between $200 and $700, plus the cost of special sublimation inks and papers.

Recommended Models:

  • Sawgrass Virtuoso SG500
  • Epson SureColor F170
  • Ricoh SG3110DN

3. Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printers

DTG printers print directly onto fabric, offering high-quality, detailed prints with a wide color range. They’re great for complex designs, gradients, and detailed artwork. DTG printing has a soft feel and is suitable for both light and dark fabrics.

Use Cases: Best for businesses looking to produce high volumes of custom T-shirts or offer complex designs. Ideal for print-on-demand services.

Price Range: Typically ranges from $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the model and capabilities.

Recommended Models:

  • Epson SureColor F2100
  • Brother GTX
  • Kornit Breeze

4. Accessories

To start a T-shirt printing business, having the right accessories is just as important as having the major equipment.

These accessories not only make the production process smoother but also ensure the quality and durability of your printed designs. Here is a list of essential accessories with a brief explanation of each:

1. Heat-Resistant Tape

Heat-resistant tape is essential for holding transfer papers, sublimation prints, or vinyl designs in place while using a heat press.

Heat Resistant Tapes

It can withstand high temperatures without leaving residue on garments. This tape ensures that designs don’t shift during the heat press process, which could cause misalignment or blurring.

2. Teflon Sheets or Heat Press Covers

Teflon sheets serve as a protective barrier between the heat press platen and the garment.

Teflon Sheets

They help prevent ink, adhesive, or other substances from sticking to the heat press, extending its lifespan and maintaining a clean surface. Some businesses also use Teflon-coated heat press covers for added protection.

3. Alignment Tools and Templates

Alignment tools and templates are crucial for ensuring consistent placement of designs on T-shirts.

Alignment Tools

Tools like rulers, grids, and laser guides help align designs accurately on the garment, reducing errors and rework.

This consistency is key to maintaining quality and customer satisfaction.

4. Silicone Heat Press Mats

Silicone pads and cushions are used to ensure even pressure distribution during the heat press process.

Heat Press Mats

They can be placed under or on top of garments to compensate for seams, buttons, or other irregularities that could affect pressure distribution.

These accessories are particularly useful when printing on thick or textured garments.

5. Lint Rollers

Lint rollers are indispensable for removing lint, dust, and debris from garments before printing.

image 3

A clean surface ensures that the ink or transfer adheres properly, preventing defects and ensuring a smooth finish.

Using a lint roller before applying heat can improve the quality of the print and reduce the chances of imperfections.

6. Protective Gloves

Heat-resistant gloves protect your hands from burns when handling hot materials or adjusting the heat press.

image 4
Source: Amazon

These gloves allow you to work safely and efficiently, especially when operating the press frequently or dealing with hot surfaces.

7. Spray Adhesives

Spray adhesives are commonly used in screen printing to temporarily bond garments to the platen, preventing movement during printing.

image 5
Source: Amazon

This helps maintain accurate registration and ensures that the design is printed in the correct position. Choose a low-tack adhesive that won’t leave residue on garments.

By incorporating these accessories into your T-shirt printing business, you’ll be better equipped to produce high-quality prints with consistency and safety.

Each accessory plays a role in streamlining the printing process, reducing errors, and enhancing the overall quality of your products.

5. A Clean Workspace

Having a well-organized workspace is crucial for efficiency and safety in a T-shirt printing business.

You’ll need sturdy tables for laying out garments, aligning designs, and operating your equipment.

Consider ergonomics when setting up your workspace to reduce strain during long hours of production.

Shelving and storage solutions are also essential for keeping supplies like inks, screens, and blank T-shirts organized and accessible.

Where To Sell Printed T-shirts Online?

There is no lack of options for marketplaces where you can sell your printed t-shirts online.

Many platforms look for sellers like you who want to start their own business and don’t know where to go.

But, now that you are all good to go with the t-shirt printing machine and all the other equipment you need, next you need to know where to sell your items.

And therefore, here is a list of different websites that allow you to sell online:

1. Shopify

With Shopify, you can directly sell your printed t-shirts as a retail seller. It is an online e-commerce solution where you can create your online store and start selling your t shirts.

What I like about Shopify is it is very easy to set up and no coding is required to set up your online store.

And you are your own boss on Shopify, you are not bounded with any rules and as in case of other marketplaces like Amazon, Ebay, etc.

2. Etsy

Selling hand-made products on the platform Esty is a good idea to start with. But, the competition on the platform is quite high and you need to do a hard job to find yourself a good place as a seller.

You can find different buyers who are interested to buy your products. Thus, Esty is a quite good option to consider.

3. Amazon

Amazon is a widely known platform where users from all across the globe meet at a particular marketplace.

So, it is quite simple for you as a beginner to reach customers who want to buy your product.

All you need to do is create an Amazon Seller Account and list your products that you want to sell, add categories and product descriptions and your product are all ready to sell.

Conclusion

Custom items are really popular in today’s time. People like wearing things that are a perfect fit for them.

Similar is the case with printed t-shirts. The marketplace is always on the rise and the demand never goes out of place.

Thus, for a small business idea, a t-shirt printing business can bring quite a lot of money or you.

The very fact you get to get to work at your own free will, at your workplace makes it a fin activity along with some money-making means.

Though you need some sort of expense, to begin with, your business, the t-shirt printing equipment that has been talked about in this post is quite less as compared to starting any other form of business.

With that, we have come to the end of this post and all the readers out there looking for answers to start with their t-shirt printing business are all good to go about achieving their dreams.

Thus, start right away, get your t-shirts printed, get hold of your sellers, show them what you have, and get paid for your hard work. With that, you are all up with flying colors.

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Hansini

I am a srilankan, can I shell my t shirt in sopify? And I would like to sell my t shirt anothr countries, could you give me some advice pls? And thank you very much your advice…