T-shirt Screen Printing Business

We bring to you all you need to know about screen printing business.

The continuous improvement in technology has made it easier to have designs on the things we wear like clothes, wristwatch, and some other materials.

We love to look good and stand out in the society, which is why a lot of people spend much on their attires and looks.

It is now very possible to have plain fabrics and print whatever you want on it to be used in social gatherings, events, and ceremonies.

That is where screen printing comes into play. Will you like to know more about screen printing, its history, and how you can make money establishing the business?

If so, you are in the right place, sit tight, relax and follow along in this article.

What Is Screen Printing

Screen printing also known as Silk screening or Serigraphy is a printmaking technique that creates a sharp-edged image using a stencil.

A mesh is used to transfer ink onto a substrate (the material to be printed on), except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil, the open spaces are where the ink will appear.

A screen is made of a piece of porous, finely woven fabric stretched over an aluminum frame. Traditionally the process was called screen printing or silkscreen printing because silk was used in the process.

Currently, synthetic threads are commonly used in the screen printing process. The most popular mesh that is generally used is made of polyester.

There are special-use mesh materials of nylon and stainless steel available to the screen-printer. There are also different types of mesh sizes that will determine the outcome and look of the finished design on the material.

One color is printed at a time, so several screens can be used to produce a multicolored image or design, and the screen can be reused after cleaning.

If more than one color is being printed on the same surface, the ink is allowed to dry, and then, the process is repeated with another screen and different colors of ink.

Screen printing can be used to print images on T-shirts, hats, CDs, DVDs, movie posters, record album covers, clock and watch faces, ceramics, glass, polyethylene, polypropylene, paper, metals, wood, and many more products.

However, nowadays printing on movie posters, T-shirts and hats is very common. This article will use printing on T-shirt as a case study.

We’ve recently written about some other business ideas like Laundry service business, daycare center business, etc.

Graphic screen printing is widely used today to create a mass or large batch produced graphics, such as posters or display stands.

Full-color prints can be created by printing in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black).  This printing technique creates long-lasting art on glass.

You can print directly on glass using ceramic paint, which is adhered to by firing in a furnace. This creates a high-definition design that won’t wear away over time. Also, precious metals like gold, platinum, and copper can be used.

You can screen print on almost any material. The earliest screen prints were done on silk, but almost any textile—from wool to cotton—can be used.

Modern technology makes it possible to print on a much wider variety of materials, including wood, paper, ceramic, and glass.

After the ink has been transferred onto the shirt, the shirt must be “cured”. That’s right it has to be cured, it is a fancy way to say the shirt needs to dry.

Printing on screen is an art, not a science. Printers learn the best combination of art, ink type, screen type, squeegee pressure, etc. to achieve an optimal print quality and look.

History of Screen Printing

Screen printing first appeared in a recognizable form in China during the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD). 

Neighboring countries soon adopted the art form, and it was introduced to Europe in the 18th century, becoming popular as the silk trade expanded.

Over the ages, screen printing has been used to create an incredible array of items, from books and wallpaper to artwork.

A group of artists who later formed the National Serigraph Society, including WPA (Works Progress Administration) artists Max Arthur Cohn and Anthony Velonis, coined the word “serigraphy” in the 1930s to differentiate the artistic application of screen printing from the industrial use of the process. 

“Serigraphy” is a compound word formed from Latin “sēricum” (silk) and Greek “graphein” (to write or draw). Screen printing is an iconic part of film history.

The first promotional screen printed item was a shirt designed to advertise The Wizard of Oz; it featured a simple logo of the film’s title.

Print Screen technique is one of the methods used in the printing business. To acquaints yourself more on other methods of printing check the article I have written on printing press business and get to know how you can start the printing business and run it successfully.

Screen Printing On T-shirts Business

Although the T-shirt printing business is mainly focused on creating custom printed T-shirts, you could extend it to include a service where you produce “custom printed gifts” for corporate organizations and printing on hats.

Establishing a business of Screen printing on T-shirts requires you to have careful planning and understanding of your targeted customers.

A man with Screen-Printed T-shirt

You need to identify their likes and the current trend in the market, and then, with the help of a designer or yourself, create your designs and transfer them on the plain T-shirts via a suitable method.

Once the product is ready, you can market to the targeted customers through different channels like the internet or various physical stores.

Virtually everybody wears a T-shirt about 7 out of 10 people have at least two T-shirts in their closet Including Men, Women, and Children, because it is an affordable and casual dress that have universal appeal and can be worn to any occasion or event.

The making of printed T-shirts usually involves the transfer of certain designs on plain T-shirt materials either by using screen printing, heat transfer or Direct to Garment method.

You can make regular income in millions of Naira from printing T-shirts for organizers of burial ceremonies, Birthday Parties, School Events, Sports events, Church crusade, and Carnival parades, etc.

Furthermore, the T-shirt market is very competitive all around the world. Therefore, to succeed and stand out from the crowd, you have to think really deeply and outside the box about your designs.

T-shirt printing is a very profitable business because t-shirts are popular, and they are not likely to go out of trend anytime soon, so if you are interested in T-shirt printing, you are about to hit it big with the right amount of seriousness.

Facts About The T – shirt Printing Business

  1. Every year, over 2 billion T-shirts are sold worldwide on average.
  2. The very first promotional t-shirt was printed in 1939 for a movie.
  3. They have become a popular promotion option because of the ease in which they can be printed. Thus, they are ideal for corporate advertising and promotions.
  4. Textile printing has actually existed for far longer than the T-shirt. The oldest method of textile printing, woodblock printing dates to the 3rd century in china.
  5. The most expensive custom made T-shirt is designed by Superlative Luxury which costs about $405,000.
  6. Screen printing is the most common type of garment printing.
  7. In the 19th century, T-shirts were not as popular as now and were considered as undershirts.
  8. Today you can get anything you like printed on your t-shirt, and still, it would be much cheaper than other garments.

Reasons For Starting T-shirt Printing Business

For a general idea, you will notice that so many people are wearing a T-shirt, and by far, it is the most modern casual wear globally; from kids, to adults, everyone loves wearing them.

The demand for T-Shirts is widespread, and so, many people around the world prefer running this venture. Some other reasons include:

  • It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and is hardly affected by other markets.
  • It is a new avenue to create wealth.
  • T-shirts have been accepted by everyone; from men to women, everyone needs casual wears.
  • It is quite inexpensive to start and requires very less capital and space.
  • It is a means of creating additional Jobs in the society.
  • With a large number of e-commerce sites worldwide, the products are easy to sell.
  • And for the most important point, it provides a better profit margin than many other fashion items. 
  • A possible partnership with other well-known clothing Brand.

From the above mentioned reasons, you can rightly conclude that screen printing or otherwise as it is been focused on in this article, T – shirt printing business is a viable business you can venture into, and it is made just right for you.

How do you go about it? That is the next point of attention.

How to Start a Successful Screen Printing Business

To start screen printing, follow the guidelines and steps outlined in this article. Notice that as mentioned earlier printing on T-shirt is the point of reference.

Carry Out A Market Survey

There are a lot of shirt designs available on different platforms, all over the physical markets and electronic ones too.

So, in order to stand out, you must create something unique and at the same time appealing.

Carry out your research on established companies and their brands, and find out designs you could add, to make it more customer-friendly and better.

Notice what they are doing right and make an improvement on it, do not fail to recognize what they are doing wrong too, and avoid that mistake.

Try to get a good insight into the industry, and identify things like; what kinds of T-shirts are the most popular and high in demand.

Also include in your research how viable the business is in your city, the niche to choose, also to know the skills needed to setup the business and the startup capital required.

The startup capital will cover the cost of buying plain T-shirts, costing actual printing of designs on T-shirts and miscellaneous expenses.

Also, try to know your potential customers, their choice patterns, and the current trends. Look for the competition in the market, what prices they’re selling the same goods, and how you can compete for market share.

You can employ the use of private survey companies, government offices, or talking to other entrepreneurs in the business.

Have A Good Business Plan

This business plan will contain all the valuable information like your market analysis, the feasibility reports, where to purchase plain T-shirts, how to get it printed (using a printing company or establishing your printing company), where you intend to sell the finished products, your target customers, and much more.

If you have a good business plan, then you have created a road map to follow. The business plan will assist you in securing grants or loans in your area whenever any is available.

Create Your Designs

Design is what separates regular t-shirts from the custom printed t-shirt. Everyone is looking for the latest and better models, which connect with their personality. Thus, it becomes the sole reason that makes the sale.

Think deeply and sketch your own eye-catching and creative designs. This is what really makes you stand out from the crowd.

Your designs need to be simple and elegant rather than being complex. If you don’t know how to sketch your designs or bring them to life, you can visit local designers in your area to help you out or simply go online and download any T-Shirt Designer App to your device.

There are so many kinds of apps available on the Internet. They are made available for different operating systems including; IOS, Android, Mac, Microsoft e.t.c.

Always try to get the latest designs that connect with your clients and stand out from rest, as no one wants to see old designs.

Always refresh and update to stay ahead of the competition. After the designs have been done, try to get feedback from people.

You can post these designs on your social media profiles or forums to get feedback from people.

Make sure you post a prototype of your designs that have been protected with your label so that it cannot be stolen online.

 Get Your Printing Equipment

If you will be having your own printing plant, then the next step is to get the necessary equipment and set up your printing plant.

You should try to fetch the printing equipment according to your business needs. The following are the needed printing equipment: Screen printer, Heat transfer, and specialized inkjet printer

A screen printer for a cheaper design can be used over and over again. So they are excellent for large orders. The shortcoming of this process is it takes a bit more time to learn and get used to.

For small orders, you can have a Heat press or digital ink-jet printers. They are slow and require less training time.

The advantage for heat presses is that besides t-shirts, you can work with a large number of other materials, thus expanding your domain manifold. 

Get Plain Materials at Wholesale Price

If you will use a printing company, then be sure to provide the printing company the plain T-shirts on which to print your design.

Letting the printer provide the plain T-shirts means he will share out of your profit.

Choose quality over quantity as this is a vital critical deciding factor in ensuring your customers always come back apart from the unique designs created to satisfy them.

A satisfied customer will always return and also bring you more clients. If you use poor quality T-shirts, they will degrade your brand reputation.

Moreover, a client can be tricked to use this once, but not twice. Also if you use high-quality materials, the prints will be better and vibrant.

Quality products ensure loyal consumers who can advertise your product to others. Getting quality plain T-shirts to buy at wholesale price is not a difficult thing in Nigeria, you can get them at the local markets where fabrics are sold.

Printing the T – shirt

To satisfy your customers in terms of quality, it is good you find a reputable T-shirt printing company to give some professional touch to your designs at affordable prices.

So take your time to find a good printing company to print your design on the T-shirts with no or minimal errors. This will go a long way in fast-tracking the rate at which your business blooms.

A good printing company equals good business for you. Make the right choice.

Alternatively, depending on your startup capital you can set up a good printing plant of your own.

That will be an added source of income as others in the business without a printing plant will visit you to have their work done.

It is always preferable to set up your printing plant even if you will have it as a long term goal.

Screen printing is great for bulk printing of five or fewer colors due to its labor-intensive set-up. This is a great option for designs that are darker or have a high level of vibrancy.

There are other options available for printing on T – shirt, these include:

Heat transfer: Here, an image is placed on a heat transfer paper.

It is then cut from the paper, and placed on a t-shirt. Heated to high temperatures, the heat transfer paper melts into the fibers of the clothing making it part of the shirt.

It can produce color images onto t-shirts relatively easily and quickly.

Direct to Garment: Here, ink is applied directly onto a t-shirt through an inkjet printer using specialist water-based ink.

The t-shirt designs are downloaded to a computer, and with a specialist printer, they are directly transferred onto a physical t-shirt.

This is the cheapest option as there is relatively no set up cost but it does take some time to print each t-shirt. Therefore, this is a good option for small print orders.

A variation is the digital hybrid screen printing (an automatic screen-printing press with a CMYK digital enhancement) which is the union between analog screen printing and traditional digital direct to garment printing, two of the most common textile aggrandizement technologies in use today.

Digital hybrid screen printing is capable of variable data options, creating endless customizations, with the added ability of screen print specific techniques.  

Branding of your T-shirt

Branding of your T-shirt printing business simply means making it look different from the ones being produced by other T-shirt makers out there in the market.

To make your products look different, create and add a label or logo to your T-Shirts.

Marketing

Your finished products won’t sell themselves; you need to make sure your target customers know about your product and your brand.

To remain relevant in T-shirts printing business in Nigeria, you will need to put in place good marketing strategies.

The important marketing strategies for your T-shirts printing business should involve the use of online and offline advertisement mediums to promote your T-shirts so as to reach a large number of users.

You can promote your products on Facebook and Instagram. You can to run ads on Facebook to enable you to build your image brand.

Connect with some fashion bloggers, as they have a large following and can easily get you a lot of orders. You can start a blog of your own or create a website for your brand.

Also, exploit free promotional channels such Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and product listing for advertising your business, as the more people know your business, the better for your brand.

When you target the local market using the offline method, business cards, posters and flyers can be a great way to advertise your business in various local organizations, shops, schools and other firms.

Use your satisfied customers for word-of-mouth advertising, as it is free of charge and people tend to trust the experience of someone who has the product.

You can also target a particular group of people, for example secondary and tertiary institutions. If you approach schools and colleges, you would realize that every single one of them has a separately designed T-shirt for their specific departments and sections. This shows a potential opportunity for you to exploit. Also, you can approach your local sports clubs, offices, associations, and more, as they also use custom-made t-shirts. 

Challenges In The T-Shirt Printing Business

In every business, entrepreneurs face a whole lot of challenges which makes it difficult for their businesses to scale. To make your venture a successful one, whatever the challenge you will need to tackle it skillfully and smartly.

 Some of the most prominent problems are mentioned below:

  • Client Dependence: If a single client makes up for half of your income, then you are an independent contractor rather than a full-blown entrepreneur.

What if your primary client suddenly pulls out? It will have a significant impact on your business. So always try to diversify your customer base.

  • Balancing growth and quality: As businesses grow, the quality of their products starts to get affected; this in turn affects your business’s reputation.

Therefore always stick to high quality job and create a good record to be known for.

  • Competition in the market: This is the major factor every business will eventually have to face.

Before entering the market, have an in-depth analysis of your rivals, what they are offering, and at what price. Learn from their mistakes and use them to grow your brand.

  • Less than expected sales: It could largely happen that your sales volume may never reach your initial projections.

Don’t be discouraged, keep working on your promotional and marketing strategies, as you journey into achieving your dreams. Remember Rome was not built in a day.

Conclusion On Screen Printing Business

I believe from the above article you have now known that the T-shirt printing business is certainly one business opportunity that can continuously generate income for you.

Today, screen printing on T-shirt printing is one of the few businesses that can be started with a little capital and promises large returns in many countries around the world.

If you have an interest in fashion and are willing to make a career out of it, the T-shirt printing business is a great bet.

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