Prints on T-shirts have been a trend for a while now, and it does not seem like it’s leaving anytime soon.
These prints add an individual style, classiness, and elegance to an ordinary shirt.
Printing on shirts is an easy and stress-free work although the ease depends on the quantity and complexity of the prints.
It could be as simple as a home DIY project, a small business, or a big enterprise.
However, one thing that can make the process difficult is when you don’t have the appropriate materials.
There are a lot ofmaterials for t-shirt printout there whose uses are determined by the scale of the printing.
Ordinarily, knowing what to buy for a specific task might be difficult.
So, we decided to bring the most common t-shirt printing materials to you. This list will serve as a guide for you regardless of what you need the materials for.
The list can be used by anyone looking to start printing on shirts, whetherfor a businessor personal DIY projects. Continue reading to know what you need.
Materials Needed for T-shirt Printing
You might have a questions like that what do i need to print t-shirts at home?
Below is an overview of the equipment needed for the t-shirt starting from the basics. This is, however, not according to relevance. So feel free to get whichever first.
Read our related article on T-Shirt Printing Business Equipment! See what equipment you need to invest in to get started.
1. Heat Press Machine
These are machines used to transfer artworks and graphics to shirts.
They are very versatile as they can be used for a lot of things, including mugs, shoes, tote bags, mouse-pads and lots more.
Heat press machinescan vary from manual press machine that does not require electricity to electronic press machines and commercial grade press machine.
The type you get is dependent on your budget and what you use it for. If you are starting, we recommend that you get the manual or electronic press machine.
It is essential if you are into team printing. This is because you are using a single design for all the shirts, so they are all uniform.
When buying, we recommend that you buy a 16×20 machine. If you can’t get that, buy a 15×15 machine and upgrade to the former when the need arises.
Alternatively, you can use an iron box if you lack a press machine. However, the design might not come out as neat as you would want.
Note: Be aware ofheatpress temperature settingswhile using this machine because if you use the wrong temperature your design will be destroyed.
If you want to know a little more about two popular printing techniques in t-shirt printing, as we have done on our article heat press vs screen printing.
2. Inkjet Printer
This is important, especially if you will be using the digital heat press method. The method lets you transfer printed designs from transfer paper to the shirt using the heat press machine.
The inkjet printer is used toprint the design on the transfer paper. To get the best out of this, ensure that you use the right transfer paper, i.e., an inkjet printer paper.
Also,use a good quality inkjet printer for the best work. They give your work perfectly neat and immaculate finishing.
A good printershould be able to accommodate different sizes of sheets and paper as this will allow you to work with varying designs regardless of how big or minuscule they are.
Some printers will require the use of software for better results. Make sure you get one that is compatible with your printer.
3. The Screen
The screen is anothervital material you will need for printing on shirts. This is particularly more important when you want to make screen prints. It is a simple material that you can make at home with a few things.
Besides, the primary use of this tool is in making stencils. These stencils are then transferred onto the shirt, thereby creating a design on it. Its functions are very similar to that of a heat press only that they are used for different methods of printing.
Working with a screen can be a little difficult as you will need a different one for each color you intend on transferring.
Also, you will need the screen to have a mesh count, the higher the mesh count, the more meticulous your design is going to be.
For context, if you are looking to make a puff and athletic design, you will need a mesh count of 15 – 90. While for general printing, it should be anything between 15 and 160 mesh counts.
If you choose to make your screen at home, consider using durable materials to make the frame- wood or aluminum can do the trick.
This will make it more sturdy and durable. Moreover, they are sensitive to light so remember to get something to remedy that.
Read More: Best File Format for Shirt Printing. Low-resolution files make poor-quality prints. Here are the best files for shirt printing!
As we have mentioned earlier, the screen is sensitive to light. So to take care of that, you will need emulsion. It is a liquid substance that is applied to screens to reduce its sensitivity to light.
Usually, it is applied to the screen before using it. The hardening of the emulsion (when it’s exposed to light) is what creates the stencil.
Applying this chemical substance is easy. You will, however, need a particular tool to that, squeegee or a scoop coater is the most common. Make sure you have one of them handy whenpreparing for screen prints. We do a deep dive into printer for screen printing in our article on how to easily print screen printing transparencies by a printer.
To achieve an even and smooth transfer, apply a thick amount of emulsion to screens. This will give more room to the screen hence a better printing outcome and color saturation.
You will need to get a drying rack to dry the emulsion-coated screens. This will prevent them from mixing.
This is one of the most critical materials used when making any printing. Well, how can you see the design if not for the ink? They aredifferent types of ink used for printing. They include plastisol or water-based inks.
For t-shirt printing, you will need a solvent ink. They come in different colors. For starters, you can get the primary colors like black, white, red, blue, or yellow.
If you wish to get a more unique and astute color, you can mix two or more colors until you are satisfied with the new one.
Getting a starter mixing system can help with the mixing, whereas quart containers are used to mix inks. You will need a scale also to weigh the ink before blending for a more precise outcome.
6. Exposure Unit
The exposure unit is the equipment used for curing the screen coated with emulsion. It pinpoints light to the stencil rather than allowing the full light of the sun. In the absence of this tool, you can use the sun to cure the stencil.
This is equipment has an oven-like shape where you place the screens while they absorb the light. While placing them in the exposure unit, make sure that both sides of the screen do not touch each other.
7. Washout Station and Water Source
After curing the emulsion-coated screen in the exposure unit, you will need to wash off excess uncured emulsion. Failure to that will make the screen get cured more when exposed to sunlight which can cause foggy work.
The washout sink is what is used for that purpose. It might be an improvisation or professionally made.What is essentialis that there is a constant flow of water.
8. Conveyor Dryers
After washing off the screen clean, you will need to dry it, hence the conveyor dryer. They also heat the ink on the shirt, thereby setting it more on the shirt.
This ensures that the print does not easily get removed from it. This is the final step in t-shirt manufacturing.
Read More: Vinyl T-Shirt Printing vs Screen Printing. We’ve compared these printing methods so you can find the right process for your projects!
Additional Materials Needed for T-shirt Printing
After getting the necessary instruments needed for t-shirt printing, there are other materials that you may need. These are not necessarily important, but they can help make your work easier. Some of them include;
- Flash cure unit- this is used to cure the ink partly; this way, you can have overlapping colors in a shirt.
- Spotting gun- when used with a spotting gun solution, it can remove fingerprints, ink stains and plastisol drips from a printed shirt.
- Emulsion remover – this is used to wash off the emulsion from a screen. Doing this allows for the re-use of the screen.
- Curable reducer- this is used to reduce the thickness of an ink.
- Tape gun- this is used to cover up part of a shirt before printing. The sections covered are where the ink is not needed. This gives the work a neater finish.
- Degreaser- used to clean the surface of a screen before applying emulsion.
- Brushes- soft bristle brushes are essential in washing off stains. In t-shirt printing, they come in handy when using a degreaser, curable reducer and emulsion remover.
- Others include a flash dryer, film output device, spray adhesive, temperature tapes, and much more.
Read More: The Best Shirts for Sublimation Printing. Discover which fabrics work – and the ones that don’t!
By now, you might have noticed that printing on shorts is not much of a difficult task, especially when you have theright materials. The materials might seem like a lot, but you must get at least the basic ones. This way, when you start printing, you can get it right.
Conversely, after getting these tools, you must learn how to use them so that they can last you a long while. With this, we say to you, Happy Printing!
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Polyester. Polyester is a synthetic fiber that is a common fabric for T-Shirts. Polyester is the material you will need to make a custom print through dye sublimation. Polyester has a lot of great qualities.
Cotton. Cotton is the most common type of fabric that is used to make t shirts, but you should remember that there are a few different types of cotton that can be used for shirt production. Types of Cotton: Combed cotton is created when short strands are eliminated, then fine brushes straighten the fibers.
Types of T-Shirt Printers
Today, there are two main types of printers in use by most t-shirt printing companies: the screen printer and the DTG (Direct to Garment) printer.
Heat press machine (or iron if you don't have one yet) A cutting machine (like a Cricut or Silhouette, only needed if using heat transfer vinyl) Fabric or material you want to press (t-shirts work great)
Polyester is often more heat-resistant, water-resistant, and wrinkle- and tear-resistant than 100% cotton t-shirts. They also give the t-shirt a little more stretch, which feels pretty nice. Polyesters are used in a wide range of everyday items like bottles, film, and tarpaulin.
And the winner is…
The winner and the material with the highest effusivity in our study was a fabric made of 95% cotton and 5% spandex. If you want something to feel cool on your skin on a hot day, this is the best choice.
Matching The Material to The Printing Machine
Whilst the most popular option is cotton, due to its soft, comfortable feel and high absorbency rate, another option is polyester. This is less absorbent than cotton but more durable; a good choice for t-shirts that will be worn often or washed frequently.
One of the most important qualities is durability. Of the most common fabric types used in t-shirts, polyester is generally the most durable. 100% cotton, cotton/polyester blends, and cotton/polyester/rayon blends are also good choices for this resilient wardrobe staple.
They are typically made of cotton textile in a stockinette or jersey knit, which has a distinctively pliable texture compared to shirts made of woven cloth. Some modern versions have a body made from a continuously knitted tube, produced on a circular knitting machine, such that the torso has no side seams.
Cotton is still the go-to for many people seeking the softest T-shirts and avoids any issues with irritation or static cling. So when you want a classic soft feel and to make sure everyone is happy, choose 100% cotton and get premium tees with high-quality, combed, and ring-spun cotton.
How I design a T Shirt - Clothing Art Tutorial - YouTube
DTG is the most durable and direct way to print any design on a t-shirt. On the other hand, screen printing is widely used for bulk orders. Similarly, dye sublimation offers premium quality with its special colour vaporising technique.
- Step 1: Draw Something. I chose “Draw Something” as the first step because it is the most fundamental. ...
- Step 2: Scan & Add Finishing Touches. ...
- Step 3: Print Film Positives. ...
- Step 4: Make The Screens. ...
- Step 5: Set Up The Press. ...
- Step 6: Run The Press.
DTF also has a higher resolution than sublimation, which means that you'll be able to see more detail in your print. Sublimation, on the other hand, uses a transfer process that embeds the ink into the fabric of the product.
The traditional way to put a picture on a shirt is to use transfer paper, a printer, and a heat source like an iron. Other methods include using a heat press, screen printing, or applying Cricut-cut vinyl. For a non-DIY option, many online stores accept custom orders and will print a photo onto a shirt at a low cost.
Absolutely! While a higher-quality printer may result in a slightly crisper-looking image on the apparel, there is no reason why you can't use just about any inkjet printer to customize t-shirts and other apparel.
Some of the suggestions and tips for proper use of heat transfer material are as follows: Do not apply heat transfer material to Nylon fabrics or plastics (vinyl/PVC, ABS, etc.). Heat transfer material should never be layered.
Close the heat press onto the t-shirt. Use medium pressure. Set the temperature to 340-345° Leave for 90 seconds on dark t-shirts, 45 seconds on lights (using the Triton Heat Press, Hotronix machine, or George Knight)
Siser Easyweed is 0.09 mm thick and works well with cotton or linen-blend fabrics, making it the top choice for t-shirt vinyl.
Synthetics. Polyester, nylon, spandex, acrylic, and acetate won't shrink and will resist water-based stains.
- Levi's. Levi's is an American clothing brand that was founded in the year 1853. ...
- Arrow. The brand Arrow is a well-known, established American clothing brand. ...
- Blackberrys. Blackberry was founded in the year 1991 by Mohan Clothing Pvt ltd. ...
- Jack & Jones. ...
- Louis Philippe. ...
- Mufti. ...
- Pepe Jeans. ...
Which T-shirt material should you choose? Go with 100% cotton if you want shirts that are soft, comfortable, breathable, gentle on the skin, non-clingy, and can be customized with any method. Cotton tees are popular with everyone, so it's a safe bet.
For workers in both indoor and outdoor environments, a blend of polyester and cotton is also effective. This blend has the best of both worlds: the comfort and breathability of cotton with the added benefits of polyester. Polyester blended fabrics are stain and wrinkle resistant.
Heavyweight t-shirts are typically just sewn together with a heavier cotton, which is what gives them the added weight.
This means that fabrics, which are 100% polyester, can be given permanent pleats and decorative shapes and patterns can be laser-cut into them. They are also highly stain-resistant, so great for cleaning. You might notice that when a garment is 100% polyester, that is it prone to static build-up.
The four main methods of textile printing are block, roller, screen, and heat transfer printing. In each of these methods, the application of the colour, usually as a thickened paste, is followed by fixation, usually by steaming or heating, and then removal of excess colour by washing.
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Generally speaking, you can use an inkjet printer or laser printer for heat transfers. However, if you want a long-lasting print with clear colors and edges, you're going to want to use a printer that has high-quality ink, high resolution, and is designed to work with different kinds of paper.
A DTG printer can cost about $20,000 and can go up to $250,000 depending on the scale of your business. DTG requires pre-treatment; therefore you need a pre-treatment machine ($3,000-$4,000) and pre-treat solution ($50 – $100 a gallon).
Heat transfer papers are designed to work with either inkjet or laser printers and are not cross-compatible. So, if you have an inkjet printer, you will need inkjet transfer paper. If you have a laser printer, you will need laser transfer paper.
Can I sublimate with any printer? No, you will need a special sublimation printer or converted inkjet printer along with special ink and sublimation transfer paper. You cannot sublimate with regular inkjet printing ink or regular paper. You need special ink and special paper.