Screen printing, an age-old technique that has left its vibrant mark on everything from T-shirts to posters, is a popular choice for individuals and businesses alike. But when it comes to budgeting for this colorful process, one question often comes to mind: “How much does screen printing cost?”
Whether you’re designing band merch, custom tees for a family reunion, or a marketing campaign, understanding the cost of screen printing is crucial. Here, I will explore the factors that determine screen printing prices and provide valuable insights.
About: Screen Printing
Before I tell you about the cost of screen printing, let me tell you what it is in the apparel industry.
Screen printing, also known as silk screening or serigraphy, is a popular method of producing multicolor designs on fabrics and other materials. It involves pressing ink through a mesh screen—hence the name “screen” printing—onto the substrate below. Screen printing offers superior durability compared to alternative methods, such as digital printing, making it an ideal choice for long-lasting promotional materials.
In addition, screen printing is relatively quick and can produce large orders at once, making it ideal for bulk production. It is also more cost-effective than other printing methods since the setup cost doesn’t increase with each new color added to a design.
So, how much does it cost you? In the next portion, I will discuss that.
How Much Does Screen Printing Cost? [Learn all the Factors]
In short, the average cost of screen printing can range from $10-$15 per clothing unit. However, this price range is not absolute. As the quantity increases, the cost per unit decreases. Additionally, the cost can increase significantly if you print complex designs on multiple colors or fabrics.
You need to consider all factors that can impact the cost of screen printing. Also, the overall cost includes the expenses for setup, ink, and other materials. Familiarizing yourself with these factors and costs is essential. Let’s explore them one by one:
Factors That Impact the Costing of Screen Printing
Here, I will break down each factor that impacts screen printing pricing.
Number of Colors:
One of the primary factors affecting the screen printing cost is the number of colors required for the design. Each color needs its separate screen, and the more screens required, the more labor-intensive and time-consuming the printing process becomes.
As a result, the pricing of screen printing increases with the number of colors required. For example, where a design with 3 colors can cost you $6, a design with 8 colors can cost you $16.
Remember which ink is used and what quantity can be a factor, too. For instance, Black and white ink is cheaper than metallic or fluorescent ink.
Another crucial factor that influences the cost of screen printing is the quantity of garments being printed. Generally, the more garments that need printing, the lower the cost per garment.
Bulk printing allows for economies of scale, and printers are willing to offer discounts for larger quantities. For instance, printing 100 t-shirts may cost less per unit than printing 50 t-shirts.
In other words, where printing 10 pieces costs you $10/piece, printing 100 pieces costs you $6/pieces.
The quality of the screen printing also affects the pricing. Higher-quality printing means better inks, high-resolution screens, and other expensive materials, all of which come at a premium price. You should expect to pay a little more if you’re seeking higher-quality prints.
For instance, if you are printing on soft and durable fabrics like cotton or bamboo, the cost may be higher than normal. Similarly, opting for a higher thread count or fancier materials can also increase the price tag.
The type of garment or fabric for printing also significantly impacts the cost of screen printing. For example, printing on cotton t-shirts will cost less than printing on polyester or nylon fabrics. Similarly, thicker fabrics like hoodies are more expensive to print on than thin t-shirts.
The intricacy of the design being printed directly affects the pricing as well. Designs with more details require more time, effort, and precision to produce high-quality prints. This means that designs with complex outlines, gradients, or multiple colors will be more expensive to print than simple designs.
For example, suppose you are printing a single-color design of a tree on a t-shirt with no gradients or other complex details. In that case, it will be cheaper than the full-color designs of a forest and nature’s view with multiple colors and detailed outlines.
Location plays a role in the pricing of screen printing services. Prices differ depending on the location of the print shop, shipping and handling fees, etc. The total cost will also be higher if you require the screen printing job to be completed in a rush.
Finally, the turnaround time also affects the pricing of screen printing. Rush jobs require extra labor and specialized attention, which increases the cost. For example, if you require same-day printing or overnight delivery, you should expect to pay more for the same job than a standard turnaround time.
All these factors only contribute to the fluctuation of screen printing costs. Apart from these, you should also consider all the associated costs and fees when calculating the overall expenses of screen printing. Next, I will let you know about these costs.
Screen Printing Cost Calculator
Calculating the costs involved in screen printing can be complex due to the many variables that affect the final cost of the job. Here, I’ll break down the costs involved in screen printing to help you better understand the factors that influence the overall cost of the job.
One of the major costs involved in screen printing is the setup cost. This cost includes the preparation and creation of the screen printing artwork, the cost of the screen itself, and the cost of any other materials used in the preparation process.
The setup costs can range from $20 to $50 per color for a single design. However, the cost can vary depending on the complexity of the design and the number of colors required.
The cost of the garment being printed is another important factor affecting the overall screen printing cost. The cost of the garment can vary depending on the material’s quality, the garment’s style, and the quantity of garments being purchased.
For example, the cost of a t-shirt or hoodie can range from $5 to $15 per item, depending on the quality and style.
The cost of labor is a significant expense when it comes to screen printing. This cost includes the time it takes to set up the artwork, prep the screens, print the designs onto the garment, and cure the garment after the printing process is complete.
I have heard from some printers that their labor costs average around $15 per hour. However, the actual range can vary from $10 to $30 per hour, depending on factors such as the printer’s experience, location, and skill level.
Shipping and Handling Costs:
The cost of shipping and handling is another significant factor that impacts the overall expense of screen printing. This encompasses the cost of transporting the garments to the printer, shipping the final product back to the customer, and any additional fees associated with handling.
For example, shipping and handling expenses can vary between $10 to $25 per order, depending on the distance and quantity of items being shipped.
Printing Press Machine Cost:
If you want to DIY screen printing, then you need your own printing press machine. The cost of a printing press machine is a substantial expense and depends on the size and quality of the machine. Entry-level printing press machines can cost anywhere from $200 to $500, while larger, professional-grade machines can cost upwards of $10,000.
The cost of ink is the most variable cost that depends on the number of colors used in the design and the quality of the ink being used. The average cost of ink can range from $20 to $50 per color, depending on the brand and the type of ink being used. Again, the cost may be higher if you choose metallic or glow-in-the-dark inks.
Another significant cost that plays a role in the overall pricing of screen printing is the cost of screens. Screens usually range from $10 to $30 per color, depending on their size and quality. Larger, higher-quality screens will generally be more expensive. Remember, you need to change the screen after several printing uses to keep the quality of your prints high.
Squeegees are the tools used to apply the ink onto the garment during screen printing. Depending on their size and quality, these usually range from $3 to $8 per squeegee.
Drying Equipment Cost:
Finally, the cost of drying equipment is another expense that is added to calculate the overall pricing of screen printing. Drying machines help you quickly dry the prints after the ink has been applied and are available in many different sizes and price ranges. Smaller, entry-level drying machines can range from $35 to $80, while larger industrial machines can cost upwards of several thousand dollars.
Other Materials Cost:
The cost of other materials, such as cleaning supplies, tape, and emulsion, can also vary depending on the size and complexity of the job. On average, the cost of other materials can range from $50 to $100 per job.
In addition to these costs, you should also consider other expenses, such as taxes and fees, which can add up quickly. Therefore, before proceeding with a screen printing job, understand all the associated costs involved upfront so that you can make an informed decision.
Check out the below video content on how much does it cost to start screen printing.
Why Is Screen Printing So Expensive?
Screen printing is a printing process that entails transferring ink through a mesh stencil onto a substrate, such as fabric or paper. This method offers numerous advantages, including durability, vibrancy, and versatility. Nevertheless, screen printing can be expensive compared to other printing methods due to its labor-intensive nature, requiring specialized equipment and materials.
There are several reasons why screen printing is expensive.
Firstly, the process of screen printing requires a lot of labor. Each design must be individually set up, which consists of creating a stencil for each color used in the design. This involves manually exposing a mesh to an emulsion that hardens when exposed to light; this allows the design to be transferred effectively onto the substrate during printing. This is a time-consuming process and requires a skilled technician to ensure the design is clean and precise.
Secondly, screen printing requires specialized equipment. The equipment needed to create a proper screen printing setup can be quite costly. The screen mesh itself, for example, can be expensive. Additionally, the inks used in screen printing come in different consistencies and are often thicker than traditional printing inks, allowing for a unique and durable print. These specialized inks can also be more expensive than traditional inks.
Another factor that can make screen printing more costly is the use of multiple colors. Screen printing involves printing each color separately. For example, if you want to print a design with four colors, you’ll need to create four separate screens and apply each color individually. Printing each color separately is time-consuming and requires high precision, which can add to the overall cost.
Because screen printing is often done in large quantities, the setup cost is distributed across many prints. A customer might order 100 shirts, but most of the expense goes toward setting up the printing process, meaning per-shirt pricing can be higher than other methods to cover the setup costs.
What Is Cheaper Than Screen Printing?
When it comes to printing, one of the major decisions you have to make is whether to choose screen printing or digital printing. While screen printing has its advantages, it’s not always the best option for every project, especially in low-quantity production. Here, digital printing is definitely a better option for you.
Digital printing, in comparison to screen printing, is cheaper because it requires no additional setup fees. Unlike screen printing, digital printing does not require the creation of multiple screens for each color. As a result, digital printing can achieve the same high-quality print without incurring the extra cost associated with screen printing.
Another factor that makes digital printing cheaper is due to its ability to produce small quantities of printed items. If you need a small batch of shirts or business cards printed, digital printing is the better choice. Screen printing involves a cumbersome setup process and is more suited to printing in bulk.
Despite its lower setup costs, digital printing produces a vibrant, high-quality final product comparable to screen printing. With digital printing, you can easily produce intricate designs, thanks to the advanced technology of digital printers. Any colors used during printing are produced in vibrant detail and will not fade or smudge over time.
Furthermore, digital printing allows for greater flexibility when it comes to customizing your design. With the ability to print directly from a computer file, any design changes can be implemented quickly without incurring any additional costs.
FAQs on Screen Printing Costing
How much does screen printing cost per shirt?
The cost of screen printing per shirt varies depending on the size of the job and the number of colors used. Typically, you can expect to pay between $5 and $10 per shirt for a single-color print with a standard design. Multicolor prints will be more expensive, while larger orders may cost less per unit.
How much does it cost to screen print a hoodie?
The price of screen printing a hoodie depends on the number of colors, the type of fabrics, and the size of the order. Typically, a single-color print with a standard design will cost between $10 and $20 per hoodie. Multicolor prints will be pricier, while larger orders may result in a lower cost per unit.
How much does it cost to screen print a tote bag?
A tote bag is a versatile item that can be printed with a variety of designs. Typically, a single-color print with a standard design will cost between $10 and $15 per bag; however, this price may vary depending on the job’s complexity.
Now you have a detailed understanding of all the costs of screen printing. In addition to understanding the cost of screen printing, you should also consider the advantages of this method compared to other printing methods.
Screen printing offers superior durability, vibrancy, and versatility in comparison to digital printing or traditional methods. Ultimately, the cost of screen printing will depend on various factors, such as the number of colors used and the size of your order.
Nevertheless, with proper planning and research, you can find the best screen printing option for your needs. Be sure to contact a local supplier and get a quote to ensure you’re making the most cost-effective choice for your project.