Fundamentals about starting up your own screen printing business, and tips to help you succeed in the garment printing industry.

How much money can you make in a screen printing business?

At least an estimated $100,000 a year.

You can usually print at least 180 shirts per hour and because the Trooper is an automatic t-shirt printer, you can print 180 - 6 color shirts an hour. An average price for a 1 color print on a 100% cotton t-shirt ranges from $5.50 to $9.00 depending on the number of shirts in the order and you charge much more for a 6 color shirt. An order for 72 shirts would take less than 25 minutes to print and you would charge at least $8.00 per shirt for 6 colors or $576.00.

$144.00 72 shirts would cost about $2.00 each when you buy in dozens. $ 21.00 Screen making materials average about 3.50 per screen. $ 3.60 Calculate ink cost at $.05 per shirt $ 1.00 Lights and electricity $169.60 Total cost of materials.

It will also take you about an hour to make a screen, and only a little longer to make more screens.

You charge $576.00 minus the materials cost ($169.60) and you pay yourself $402.40 for a job that takes less than 2 hours to produce.  One job like this per day and you're making $100,000+ a year.

How much does it cost to start a screen printing business?

The short answer is about $10 per day or just $212 per month.

Firstly, how much does a t-shirt printing machine cost? For the cost of an average car payment, a screen printing machine actually makes you money when you run it! A 5 year bank loan for $10,000 at 10% interest only costs $212.47 per month - much less than another employee. That's only $10 per day to be able to print at least 100 - 6 color shirts an hour. Even if you only print 212 shirts per month and only make a dollar a shirt, it's smart business to go with automatic t-shirt printing press. What are you waiting for? Your banker will understand the return on investment.

What is the average cost of running a screen printing business?


Wholesale cost for shirts is about $24.00 per doz. for 100% heavy weight white cotton t-shirts. Price varies depending on how many you buy at a time.

Silk Screen Making

You will use about $1.50 worth of screen printing supplies to make a screen. Screen making goes faster if you prepare them ahead of time so they are ready-to-expose when a suprise job arrives. The most time consuming part of making mesh screen frames are waiting for them to dry.

Business Utilities

Electricity, Shop space, Lights, Heat should all be calculated and added for the space you use. Choosing the right environment and location is important. Not only in getting foot traffic, but making sure you have the right conditions for silk screen equipment to function appropriately.

Silk Screens

Pre-stretched mesh screens cost about $25. You can change the images and use the screen over and over again. It is very reasonable to reuse a screen more than 20 times

Screen Printing Ink

You will get thousands of prints from a gallon of screen printing plastisol ink, but we suggest calculating costs at $.05 per shirt. Tip: choosing the best screen printing plastisol ink solely based on price is “penny wise and pound foolish.” What can be a low price in the beginning quickly becomes more expensive as you have to take time (labor) and use ink modifiers (more chemicals to buy) to make the ink the consistency that you want. Shop around for high quality, premier t-shirt ink.

Time & Labor

It does take time to make screens and print a job. If you pre- clean, reclaim, or coat several screens at a time, you are more productive. Assuming you have ready to expose screens on the shelf, you can expose and prepare a screen for printing in less than an hour.

What are the benefits of owning a screen printing business?

  • Everybody loves t-shirts, and there is a strong market for small jobs that big companies don't want.
  • You can print in a very small space, and earn hundreds of dollars an hour right in your own home.
  • As a middleman, you only order and print what the customer has actually ordered.
  • Carry little or no inventory - Local distributor can deliver blank shirts in 1 day.
  • Brand name shirts add recognition to what you sell.
  • Tax benefits can help reduce your taxes, even as you make more money.
  • Be your OWN BOSS!

How to market a screen printing business?

  • Every person you meet is a potential customer.
  • You must reach these people and get them to buy.
  • You must identify anyone else selling a similar product.
  • You must make the service that comes with your product different & have more value.
  • Don't worry that your new business is not unique - buyers are looking for screen printers.

Every person in town needs to know that you can print on:



  • T-Shirts
  • Fleece
  • Jackets
  • Golf Shirts
  • Uniforms
  • Aprons
  • Caps
  • Heat Transfers
  • Bandanas
  • Sweatbands


  • Athletic Bags
  • Can wraps
  • Horse blankets
  • Seat Cushions
  • Ties
  • Tote Bags
  • Towels
  • Umbrellas


  • Binders
  • Bumper Stickers
  • Corrugated Boxes
  • Frisbees
  • Key Chains
  • Mugs
  • Mirrors
  • Name tags
  • Notebooks
  • Pens
  • Political Posters
  • Real Estate Signs

Get out a calendar and list EVERY event and holiday you can think of - so you can be ready and ahead of time to sell and take orders for screen printing. Get your shirt and design ideas ready to sell.


  • Church Functions
  • Class Trips
  • Concerts
  • Conventions
  • Craft Fairs
  • Ethnic Festivals
  • Flea Markets
  • Fund-Raisers
  • Open House
  • Parades
  • Parties
  • Picnics
  • Political Campaigns
  • Radio & TV Promotions
  • Running Marathons


  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Company Anniversaries
  • Earth Day
  • Father's Day
  • Flag Day
  • Fourth of July
  • Halloween
  • Landmark Birthdays
  • Mother's Day
  • Saint Patrick's Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Valentines Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Wedding Anniversaries
  • Xmas

List every sporting season that will need uniforms and team support items like t-shirt, caps and pennants. Sports teams always wait until the last minute and have trouble organizing sizes, printed images and how team members will pay. You organize it ahead of time, deliver on time and you will get the order now and in years to come.


  • Basketball
  • Baseball
  • Bowling
  • Cheerleaders
  • Double Dutch
  • Football
  • Gymnastics
  • Intramural Teams
  • Little League
  • School Sports
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Volleyball


  • Boys Clubs
  • Car clubs
  • Churches
  • Country Clubs
  • Kawanis Clubs
  • Lions Clubs
  • Marching Band
  • Motorcycle clubs
  • Rotary Clubs
  • Sailing Clubs
  • School Clubs
  • Scouts
  • Ski Clubs


  • Car Dealers
  • Cycling Shops
  • Fire Depts.
  • Freight
  • Gift Shops
  • Hotels/Motels
  • Lawn Maintenance
  • Military
  • Musical Groups
  • Restaurants
  • Retailers
  • Home Improvement
  • Unions
  • Utilities

Hand tag every shirt with a business card that guarantees quality. That card will eventually get into the hands of buyers.

Learn How to Screen Print with Video Tutorials on LawsonTV