Why Start a T-Shirt Business?

T-shirt printing businessWhy would you want to start a T-shirt printing business?  Why now?

The short answer to these questions comes down to the following three simple words: opportunity, ease-of-entry, and affordability.

Let’s explain:

1. Opportunity
The printed T-shirt business is healthy, growing, and has been virtually recession-proof. Look around when you go to the mall or to a sporting event. It seems that everyone is wearing a printed or decorated T-shirt, jersey, hoodie, or sweatshirt. People love them and will keep buying them long into the future, regardless of the economy.

People who wear printed T-shirts don’t just have one — they have several, and they keep buying more. They buy new shirts when old ones become worn or outdated. School sports teams buy jerseys each new season.  New schools with new names and new sports programs pop up every year. Students at college want shirts. School team spirit is is best expressed with colorful T-shirts or jerseys. Clever shirt slogans are always popular. Fads come and go. There’s always demand for printed shirts — everywhere you look.

Teenagers love expressing their individuality with printed shirts. Personal interests change; political opinions change — often to be expressed on new T-shirts. New parents love buying cute shirts, jam-jams, and onesies for the baby. Kids are so cute in cute shirts.

Many companies like for their employees to wear logo shirts. Other companies give away decorated shirts as advertising. Members of family reunions like wearing special shirts for the occasion. Printed shirts mark holidays, special events, anniversaries, and concerts. Antique car collectors want images of their cars on shirts. Motorcycle riders love biking themes and patriotic shirts.

Decorated T-shirts and other garments are everywhere and are here to stay. The demand is out there and future growth potential is amazing. T-shirt printing is a great opportunity for people who are looking to start a small company or home-based business.

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Best Rhinestone Setting Machines

best rhinestone machineTwo of the top distributors of automatic rhinestone setting machines in the U.S. are Mesa Distributors (DECOR brand) and ColDesi (CAMS brand). Although both companies offer similar products, there are differences that might be important if you are making a decision to move into the lucrative rhinestone-decorated garment business in a bigger way.

Automated rhinestone machines are a big step up from manual methods of creating heat-pressed rhinestone transfers for t-shirts, jeans, or other apparel. Manual methods are slow, error-prone, and can in some ways be more expensive than machine-created transfers.

If you are not currently producing rhinestone-decorated garments, it’s a fast-growing opportunity that might be worth your consideration. Depending on your budget and how much business volume you expect, there are a number of ways to get started. See our article, Three Paths to Rhinestone Success, for more details.

For those who are already doing rhinestones manually and want to be able to handle more business, you should consider moving to an automated rhinestone machine such as the DECOR or CAMS. Operationally, these machines work the same way. They pick up individual rhinestones (“stones”) from a supply bin and deposit them onto sticky transfer paper in a pattern or design created with special software on a PC. When finished, the rhinestones can be easily and quickly heat-press applied to a t-shirt or other garment.

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Five Ways to Print T-Shirts

There are several different ways to print T-shirts and other garments. Let’s take a look at the five most common methods.

Each of the methods we’ll discuss are unique in terms of technology, methodology, ease of use, cost, and productivity.

If you are beginning a T-shirt business, you will choose the method that best suits your needs and your budget.

The five T-shirt printing methods are direct-to-garment (DTG) printers, heat transfers, embroidery, screen printing, and vinyl printer/cutters.

DTG Printing

In no particular order, let’s begin with DTG printing. DTG printers are essentially ink-jet printers that are designed for T-shirts and other similar garments. They are larger and more expensive than a desktop inkjet printer, use special inks for fabrics, and attach to a PC or Mac computer. Images are printed from the computer and can be full-color photographic quality on cotton or cotton-blend fabrics. To print on dark shirts, you need a DTG printer that is specially designed with that capability. DTG printers are rather costly — $12, 000 or more — but are incredibly versatile and relatively easy to use.

Heat Transfers

You can create heat transfers in a variety of ways. One way is using a computer and a desktop inkjet or laser printer to print your designs on special transfer paper. Using a heat press, the image is transferred to a T-shirt or other garment.

You can also use a dye-sublimation printer, which is similar to a desktop ink-jet printer. After printing using a special transfer paper, the image can be applied to fabric (or other materials, such as coffee mugs) using a heat press. Small dye-sub printers cost about $300-$500.

You can also buy heat transfers from companies such as Stahls Transfer Express and Quicktrans. You can create your own design or select from a large catalog of ready-made designs including sports uniform numbers and letters, school mascot images, public service images, and much more. You only need a heat press to apply the transfers to shirts or other fabric items.

Or you can create your own transfers with a vinyl cutter, or vinyl printer/cutter, which we’ll discuss in a moment.

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Three Paths to Rhinestone Success

rhinestone T-shirtsRhinestone-decorated T-shirts are HOT right now, really HOT!

Ladies love them, especially moms … Soccer Mom, Basketball Mom, Football Mom, Football Grandmother, Dancing Queen, Cheer Mother, Twirl, Spirit, Love (Heart), all with glitter and bling.

Other than direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, rhinestones are the fastest growing opportunity segment in the garment decoration business. Everybody loves rhinestone BLING, and are willing to pay extra to get it.

If you are thinking about taking a slice of that opportunity, there are a number of different ways you can do it.

Method #1 – Find a company, such as Falcon Design & Graphics, that “prints” rhinestone T-shirts to order. They can provide you with ready-made rhinestone shirts that you can then sell for a profit. You can select standard designs or create your own. Such companies can even mix DTG printed designs with rhinestones for that extra sparkle. This is the easiest method and requires no costly equipment, but might not be as profitable as the other methods discussed below.

Method #2 – Buy a heat press (see How to Select a Heat Press) and buy heat-applied rhinestone transfers from companies such as Transfer Express and other companies (see links below). You can select rhinestone designs from their catalog or have them create custom designs from your own artwork. Use your heat press machine to permanently apply the rhinestones designs to your blanks T-shirts. Peel off the transfer backing and you are done. Rhinestone transfers are not expensive, which allows you to make a nice profit on your shirts.

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Ready for BLING with Rhinestones?

rhinestone blingMany people already in the T-shirt printing business are finding that adding a little “bling” with rhinestones to their shirt designs can easily double their profits. It adds that extra sparkle that ladies and little girls love.

Even if you aren’t in the T-shirt printing business, you can start a new business that only offers rhinestone decorated garments, handbags, and other items — without the need for a garment printer. You only need a method of applying the small  ’stones’ either directly to your  fabric or, more commonly, to a piece of sticky material known as “transfer tape.” The stones stick to the tape which is then laid on your T-shirt and heated for a few seconds in a heat press machine. The stones then attach themselves to the shirt and the transfer material can be peeled off so that only the stones remain.

If you are creating very simple rhinestone designs or only need to add a few stones to a printed design for extra bling, you can get by with using a hand applicator such as the Darice 2704-01 Rhinestone Setter Hot-Fix Applicator Wand that applies one stone at a time. Obviously, if your designs are more complicated or you are making more than just a couple of shirts, you’ll want a better, faster way of placing stones.

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Why Are Dark Shirts Different?

printing on black t-shirt businessIn the T-shirt printing business, there is a big difference between printing on white shirts and printing on black or dark shirts. In fact, if you plan to sell dark shirts, your direct-to-garment (DTG) printer must be specifically designed to print on dark shirts as well as white. Most do, but not all.

Let’s explain.

A DTG printer’s CMYK color inks are designed to be printed only on white or light colored surfaces. Therefore, on dark shirts you must first print a white image as an underbase.  Then the color image is printed precisely on top of the white (don’t worry, your printer software handles this little chore automatically). Your DTG printer must be able to handle the required white ink as well as CMYK color inks. What would otherwise be a one-pass printing process for white shirts becomes a two-pass process for dark shirts — white first, then color.

DTG printers that are designed for both white and dark garments have color ink cartridges (or bottles) as well as white ink cartridges (or bottles). Since white ink is more likely to clog than color ink, make sure the DTG printer you buy has a white-ink recirculation system or other method of preventing clogging. Regular cleaning and maintenance is also more important on printers that use white ink.

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T-Shirt Business with Only a Heat Press

heat pressIs it necessary to have an expensive direct-to-garment printer, or vinyl printer/cutter to start a T-shirt decoration business?

No, absolutely not.

Here’s how it works.

First you need a heat press machine. There are lots of choices in terms of type, size, features, and cost. Choose the machine that you think best fits your needs for now and the near future. As your business grows, you can upgrade to bigger and better machines. Heat presses can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on what you need. You can also find used machines for sale on the Internet. See our article How to Select a Heat Press for more details.

Now all you need are blank shirts and heat-applied transfers, both of which you can buy from a variety of sources.  Heat transfers are like decals that are applied to a T-shirt with evenly-distributed heat, at a specified temperature and pressure for a specified length of time — which is exactly what a heat press does.

We’ve mentioned in other articles that you can make your own heat transfers using a vinyl printer/cutter machine. However, you can also buy your transfers from companies such as TransferExpress at prices that are competitive with those that you might produce yourself. You simply send them your artwork (or choose from standard clip-art designs), select the type of transfer material, and wait for your order to be delivered to your door in a day or two. After that, it’s just a matter of pressing the transfers onto your shirts.

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New DTG Printer from Anajet

DTG printer for T-shirt BusinessAnajet recently announced a new DTG printer, the Anajet mPower, which represents a step up in speed, durability, and maintenance reduction when compared to the Anajet Sprint, discussed previously on this web site.

Priced at about $25,000 the new direct-to-garment printer is targeted primarily to high-volume production. It is capable of printing a 12″ x 10″ full-color graphic image on a T-shirt in as little as 16 seconds. This is considerably faster than the Sprint and most other printers in its class.

The new mPower also has updated print head technology and an improved ink delivery system that promises fewer clogs and reduced maintenance.

The printer comes with a set of ink cartridges and RIP software that allows you to get up and running almost immediately. We recommend however that you take advantage of the free hands-on training that Anajet provides at its California headquarters. You’ll learn essential operational and maintenance techniques that will save you time as you get started.

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T-Shirt BusinessSince T-shirts and other decorated garments are worn by so many different people for so many different reasons in so many different markets, the number of possible directions you can take when entering the T-shirt printing business is almost unlimited.

Many people who enter the T-shirt and apparel decorating business already know the kind of market they intend to sell to. Others are not sure and will let the business take its own direction.

Marilyn, for example, is very creative and has some great ideas for T-shirt and blouse designs that she will sell to retail shops in her city. If the design is popular, she’ll have a steady source of repeat business. She can grow her business by creating new designs and selling even more shirts to more shops. She even hopes to begin selling her line of branded products online through a new web site.

Michael and Debbie have three boys in middle school and high school sports. The teams are partially supported by sales of spirit T-shirts, which Debbie designs and Michael prints with their DTG printer at home. The teams also have jerseys that need names and numbers each season, which Michael does with his heat press using stock heat transfers. He’ll soon buy a vinyl cutting machine to make his own transfers at lower cost for greater profit.

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Start a No-Cost T-Shirt Business. Really?

print on demand t-shirstIn previous articles we discussed the cost of starting a T-shirt printing and decoration business. However, there’s another option that has no cost.

Let’s quickly review the previously discussed ways in which you might start a T-shirt business — if you have money.

In the first way, you simply buy pre-printed heat transfers, blank T-shirts, and a heat press machine. That’s it. You can be in business for only a few hundred dollars. You get your investment back in short order after you begin getting customers.

In the second way, you do the printing yourself with a direct-to-garment (DTG) printer, which will require a few thousand dollars, a computer, some blank shirts, and a heat press. It’s higher cost but also offers the highest profit potential. The printer and heat press pay for themselves with only a modest amount of business.

But is there a way to get started in the T-shirt printing business with no money?

Yes, there is another option available to you — print-on-demand (POD) products— that requires no up-front money or investment. Let’s take a look at the details now.

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T-shirt business opportunityStarting a T-shirt printing business is a great opportunity because EVERYBODY wears printed T-shirts (tee-shirts).

A large part of the market is with groups of people who wear identity apparel — shirts and other garments that identify them as part of a specific group. The group might be a club, a sport team, a school, a company, a public service group, a shop, or an organization.

The following list includes some of the groups that will potentially buy your products. Find these groups in your area and show them samples of your work. If you are actually a member of any of these groups, so much the better. You’ll soon have more business than you can handle.

SPORTS

  • Air-Rifle Teams
  • Basketball Teams
  • Baseball Teams
  • Bicycle Racing Teams
  • Bowling Leagues
  • Cheer Schools/Teams
  • Equestrian Clubs
  • Fishing Clubs/Tournaments
  • Football / Cheerleaders
  • Golf Clubs/Shops
  • Gymnastic Teams
  • Hockey Teams

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T-shirt business websiteMost people who start a T-shirt printing business do not need a web site immediately at the outset.

The majority of your business at first will be local to you — local sports teams, local schools, local businesses, local shops, and local organizations.

You’ll grow your customer base by simply talking to people to let them know about your new business. You’ll get business from some of your contacts and they will tell others about you. You’ll wear examples of your shirts to events and find customers who want to know where you bought them. You’ll give a sample shirt to local businesses who will want more of them.

However, you’ll soon want a web site to supplement your other marketing activities and to build a professional image for your company. Although you may eventually sell your products through your web site, its initial and primary purpose is to use the power of the Internet to help promote your business.

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Should You Start with Screen Printing?

screen printing businessScreen printing has been around for a long time and is a proven technology for T-shirt printing. Until fairly recently it was the ONLY way to get into the T-shirt printing business. It’s sometimes called silk screen printing.

So, the question is, with the choices now available as to how you might start your T-shirt and garment decoration business, is screen printing a good way to go? Your choices, other than screen printing, would be embroidery, direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, purchased heat-transfers, vinyl printing/cutting (create heat transfers), or rhinestones.

Screen printing is a good choice when you know you’ll be printing large volumes of the same designs — and have a large enough shop space to handle the equipment, supplies, cleaning facilities, and inventory. Typically, your customers would be retailers or wholesalers, sports gear distributors, large sports or school organizations, fund-raisers, or  large businesses. You would rely on repeat orders from many of those customers. Although your initial investment wouldn’t have to be large, you would need to be able to grow fairly quickly to handle large orders — the kind for which screen printing is best suited. Read the rest of this article »

tee-shirt business successWe seem to always be talking about all the things that you should do to start and operate a successful T-shirt business but we rarely mention the things you shouldn’t do.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that can practically guarantee an unsuccessful T-shirt printing and decoration business.

Excessive debt – Don’t take out a second mortgage on your house, get new credit cards, or cash in your 401K savings to finance your tee-shirt business unless you know with absolute certainty that you can generate the level of sales and income necessary to justify that debt. Don’t turn your business dreams into a high-risk gamble.   It’s much more sensible to start small and let your business pay for itself as it grows. It’s slower going but you won’t lose your shirt (pun intended).

Unrealistic expectations – Don’t expect to be an overnight success. Establishing a successful T-shirt business takes time , although maybe not as much time as some other businesses due to the high profit potential. Take time to learn good business practices, learn about your competitors, your equipment, and your market. Don’t become discouraged if things start off a little slow. Set realistic goals for yourself and measure yourself against those goals.

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vinyl cutter materials and opportunitiesWe discussed vinyl cutters and printer/cutters in a previous article (see Start Small with a Vinyl Cutter) as a good way to lower the cost of entry into a T-shirt and garment decoration business.

However we only hinted at the incredible selection of types of vinyl materials that allow many more ways to decorate T-shirts than a DTG printer can possibly do. Furthermore, vinyl transfers are designed to be applied to practically any kind of fabric, including perforated sportswear,  whereas DTG printers are typcially limited to 100% cotton or 50/50 cotton/polyester blends.

The possible applications for vinyl transfers goes far beyond simple T-shirt and sportswear decoration. Transfers can be applied to caps, golf bags, underwear, sleepwear, babies’ clothing, pillows, towels, uniforms, mouse pads, hoodies, backpacks, petwear, stadium chairs, just to name a few. Some of these applications may require special heat presses or special processes.

Vinyl materials are available from a number of reliable sources such as Stahls’ ID Direct. Order in rolls in the width required for your cutter or printer/cutter.

Let’s take a look at some of the available options in vinyl materials. Some names for materials are those used by Stahls’. All are available in a variety of colors.

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vinyl cutter-printerIt is possible to start a T-shirt decoration business with nothing more than an inexpensive vinyl cutter or a printer/cutter and a heat press — and a computer, of course. In fact, many people begin their business this way.

Vinyl Cutters

A desktop vinyl cutter, such as the Roland CAMM-1 Gx-24, simply cuts computer-based designs from rolls of colored vinyl material. Use a PC and Roland’s provided graphic software to create the shapes or designs you want and send them to the cutter. After the design has been cut out, you can apply it to T-shirts, sports uniforms, jackets, or other garments with a heat press. Once applied, it’s permanent.

Vinyl material is available in a wide assortment of types, colors, textures, metallic, reflective, glow-in-the dark, and patterns. Multi-color designs are easily created using software provided with the cutter or other graphics software of your choice, such as Corel Draw.

Some of the applications for vinyl cutters (and cutter-printers), other than for T-shirts and garment decoration, are the following:

  • Vehicle graphics and signage
  • Pinstriping
  • Window tinting graphics
  • Signs
  • Banners
  • Sports jerseys and helmets
  • Decals
  • Labels
  • Stencils
  • Templates for rhinestone transfers

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Why Attend Trade Show? 10 Top Reasons

t-shirt printing business trade showsAnyone thinking of entering the T-shirt decoration business, or anyone already in it, should take advantage of trade shows such as the Imprinted Sportswear Shows (ISS) that are held around the country each year. Whether you’re just starting out or are an old-timer, you’ll need to constantly build on your knowledge and skills to be successful in this competitive business. Trade shows are one of the best and most convenient ways to do it.

Here’s why.

1. It’s free. For the most part, the trade shows are free to attend, assuming you register in advance (otherwise, pay $25-$30). Registration gives you full access to the show floor, although you will have to pay to attend workshops and seminars (see below). If you’ve already established your business, or plan to do so soon, you know of course that you can deduct your expenses of traveling to and attending a trade show from your Federal tax return.

2. See equipment, up close and personal. You’ll see new printers and other equipment, get demonstrations, pick up samples, talk to knowledgeable representatives, and get “show special” prices. Bring examples of some of your own graphic images on a thumb drive and have printer vendors create sample shirts for you. Compare shirts from muliple vendors. Some vendors even have customers present in their booths who can answer questions and discuss their own experiences with the products.

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New M2 Printer from DTG

DTG M2 direct-to-garment printerDTG‘s newest direct-to-garment printer, the M2, represents a technology and speed advancement over many other printers, even those in the DTG line such as the Viper. It is sold in the U.S. by ColDesi in Tampa, Florida.

As we’ve discussed in other articles, direct-to-garment printer technology is still in it’s early stages. Every new product that comes along now and in the near future will represent an improvement. We should expect to see faster speeds (especially for dark shirts), better brighter and more durable inks, improved reliability, longer print head life, reduced maintenance requirements, smaller sizes, and lower prices.

The new DTG machine, which is supposed to be the first in an ongoing M-Series, is 2-4 times the speed of the company’s Viper printer. It has higher resolution and more precise ink control aided by new IQ Color RIP software. It’s print area is a large 24″ x 17.7″ or 24″ x 47″ with multiple platen configurations.

The new printer has an advanced white ink management system to reduce common problems with white ink flow. It also uses a new technique to eliminate color banding, another common problem with other printers.

With the M2 printer, ColDesi includes a kit containing ink, dark shirt pretreatment sprayer and solution, and cleaning products. They offer a 2-year warranty (other companies typically offer only 1 year), and 1 day of free hands-on training in their Tampa office.

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T-Shirt Pricing Basics

t-shirt priceHow do I set prices on my DTG printed T-shirts?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions from people starting a T-shirt printing and decoration business.

Price-setting is a balancing act. If you set your prices too high, your customers might not want to pay and will look for cheaper service elsewhere. If you set your prices too low, you’ll not make sufficient profit to allow your business to grow, or even survive. The “right” price is somewhere in between.

There are three key factors in making pricing decisions:

1. Cost of materials

2. Cost of labor

3. Cost of doing business

New T-shirt business owners often make the mistake of only looking at the first of these costs – the cost of the materials and ink to make each shirt. In doing so, they underprice their shirts and lose money in the long run.

Cost of Materials

It’s easy enough to figure the cost of materials. It simply the cost of the shirt plus the cost of the DTG ink used, or the cost of creating or buying a heat transfer. Depending on brand, style, fabric, and size, T-shirts are relatively inexpensive when purchased wholesale — $2 or less per shirt. Calculating the average per-shirt cost of DTG ink is simply a matter of counting the number of shirts you print with a single ink cartridge, and dividing the cost of a cartridge by that number. Some DTG printers (e.g. Veloci-Jet) come with software that actually tells you the cost of the ink used for each individual shirt. Regardless, you’ll find ink cost per-shirt to be very small, less that $1 typically. Ink cost will vary by cost of cartridges or bulk ink paks, size and quality of graphic image, and whether white ink is involved (for dark shirts).

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Amazing New DTG Printers from Brother

Brother DTG printers - GT-341If you frequent this web site you may already be familiar with Brother’s older DTG printer offerings, the economical GT-541 and more expensive GT-782.

The problem was that the GT-541 only printed on white or light colored t-shirts because it could not print white ink which is necessary to print on dark t-shirts.

Although the GT-782 dual platen machine could print white ink, it was large, bulky, and very expensive compared to other machines like the Anajet and Veloci-Jet that print both white and dark t-shirts at a much lower cost.

Now all that has changed.

Brother just announced a new GT3-Series of DTG printers — the GT-341 (white shirts only), GT-361 (2 white ink print heads), and the GT-381 (4 white ink print heads).

These new direct-to-garment printers, called GraffiTee by Brother, advance the bar in DTG technology. First, the GT-361 and GT-381 print white ink (for dark shirts) and colored ink in a single pass, not two passes as with other DTG printers. This creates much faster printer times.

Even if you first buy the economical GT-341, you can upgrade it to one of the white-ink machines later. No need to trade or sell your old machine.

Print area on these new printers is 14″ x 16″; they measure at 53.9″ x 41.1″ x 26″; print at up to 1200 DPI for photo quality; and require no RIP software.

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How to Get T-Shirt Business Customers

T-shirt printing businessWe’ve previously discussed many of the sales and marketing methods you can use to create a successful direct-to-garment T-shirt printing business. These include using business cards, advertising flyers, decals on your car or truck, selling at local school sports events, promoting your business on Facebook and Twitter, and even cold-calling on local services and businesses whose employees wear T-shirts.

Where most of your business comes from

However, the majority of a successful T-shirt printing business’ work will come from 1) large orders that result from earlier small orders, 2) repeat business from previous customers, and 3) word-of-mouth referrals in which one customer recommends you to other customers. A single print job can easily snowball into a ton of business with little or no effort from you.

How it works

Let’s take a look at a couple of typical scenarios.

You place a listing for your business on www.PrinterListings.com. A small local charity in another state sees your listing and contacts you. Because they only need a few T-shirts for their chariy workers, their local screen printer wasn’t interested in the job. You do the job, get paid, and send them the shirts. One of the charity workers is the owner of a large home painting company whose employees constantly need printed logo T-shirts. He likes your work and contacts you to do his shirts for the next year. The owner is also a volunteer fireman. His firehouse needs T-shirts and you get the job. And so on and so on.

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How to Select a Heat Press

heat pressWhat is a heat press?

heat press is an essential piece of equipment if you are printing T-shirts, regardless of whether you are using heat transfers or directly printing your shirts with a direct-to-garment printer. The machine is designed to apply uniform heat and pressure for a period of time to permanently imprint ink images to fabric or other materials.

Heat presses are available in a wide variety of brands, models, sizes, types, manual or automated operation — and prices.

Important factors in choosing a heat press

Size
Size is the first factor you should consider when buying a heat press.  Size refers to the table, or platen, that your garment will rest on. Although small 9 inch by 12 inch “hobby” presses are available, this is usually too small for typical T-shirt printing. Other sizes are 15″ x 15″ (or 16″ x 16″), 16″ x 20″, 11″ x 15″, and 22″ x 22″. For greatest versatility, buy the 16″ x 20″ size, which is good for all sizes of  T-shirts.

If you plan to take your heat press on the road to events and art shows, select the smallest machine that will do the job and have a manageable weight.

Manual or automatic?
The most automated heat presses let you precisely set temperature, pressure, and time using digital controls and readouts — and will automatically open at the end of a heating cycle. This allows for more consistent results, while minimizing the time you must spend hovering over the press.

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Best DTG PrinterWhat are the best digital DTG printers for a small start-up T-shirt printing business?

There are a number of excellent direct-to-garment (DTG) printer brands and models from which to choose when starting a T-shirt printing business.

We’ll help you sort out your options and give you our recommendations for best DTG printer.

Since this web site is specifically for people who want to start a small T-shirt printing business, we will limit our DTG printer candidates to those that are designed for that market, which will generally be the less expensive models — those not necessarily suited to a large high-volume printing company.

All the printers we discuss are available for about $12K-$20K , except where noted. Although this might seem to be a lot of money for a start-up business, financing can be arranged for about $450-$650 a month, which is easily achievable for a business that has such high profit margins as a T-shirt printing business (see T-Shirt Printing Business Profits). It doesn’t take much business to make the monthly payments and have plenty of money left over.

Also note that you can generally get better prices on DTG printers by attending a garment/apparel decorating trade show and getting “show special” prices. It’s a good way to buy because you can see and compare different DTG printers all at the same place. Even take one of your own digital color images or photographs and let the different DTG printer companies print sample shirts for you to compare.  Read the rest of this article »

How to Choose a Direct-to-Garment Printer

DTG PrintersIf you’ve decided to enter the T-shirt printing business, a direct-to-garment (DTG) apparel printer (also called digital garment printer or apparel printer) will provide you the highest profit potential of any other method we’ve discussed in these articles.

A good digital direct to garment printer will allow you to print high-quality full-color images or illustrations onto a variety of fabrics and types of garments, light or dark colored, with minimum problems, effort, and cost. 

There are a number of digital apparel printer manufacturers, some with a variety of different models. In this article, we’ll tell you what you need to know about DTG printers and how to choose the best printer for your needs. We’ll save our discussion of specific makes and models until another article.

The following are the most important considerations when selecting a digital garment printer:

Does the printer manufacturer offer training?
The best direct to garment printer companies offer free classroom training to customers. Others may only offer instructional DVDs or online video training. Some printers are sold only through distributors who are often not well qualified to provide customer training or support. Look for a company that provides a 1 or 2-day class at no extra charge. If you are not sure if a company provides training, call them and ask. Training is very important to your early success in the T-shirt printing business.

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wholesale T-shirtsAs your T-shirt printing business becomes more and more successful, you’ll be buying more and more blank T-shirts to decorate and sell.

Obviously, buying your shirts at the lowest cost will allow you make the most profit.

Therefore, you want to buy your shirts directly from a manufacturer or wholesale distributor. A manufacturer only sells his own line of shirts and other garments while a distributor may sell many different lines from various manufacturers.

As a business, you can buy at wholesale prices. You might be required to set up an account with the company or distributor. Some also require that you have a state sales tax number (you should already have a state tax certificate anyway). A sales tax certificate and number allows you to buy products for resale without paying sales tax.  Of course, you have to charge sales tax — to your in-state customers.

Buying wholesale T-shirts is like buying most anything else. There are cheap lower-quality shirts, there are expensive top-quality shirts, and everything in between. You must decide based on what you think your customers will be happy with and whether you want to build a reputation for quality products and service.  You’ll also want to consider what prices you think your customer will pay and what profit you want to make.

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