Screen Printing Costing Explained

Screen printing is a very popular printing method for a wide variety of items, including t-shirts, posters, signs, and more.

The cost of screen printing depends on a few factors, including the number of colors in your design, the number of prints you need, the size of your design, and more. Generally, the more colors in your design, the more expensive it will be. If you need a large number of prints of the same design, the cost will be less for you.

Printing businesses and screen-printing companies will offer a table with price details if you ask them. You may need to ask them via phone or email or even physically in their store. You can check shops around you to get a better idea as well. Such pricing information is not easily shared on websites because of business & marketing policies.

If you want a rough idea then, first you need to admit that the cost of screen printing shirts is usually determined by the volume. Screen setup fees will be around $20 to $60 per screen nowadays. But it goes as low as 0.01 when it’s come to big volume printing of same screen. And the printing ink/color cost with some additional costs like labor cost.

Take a look at the bellow table to get a rough idea of the final printing pricing. Remember it’s not fixed anyhow.

rough idea of final printing pricing

If you still wanna know how much screen printing costs in detail? Read on. We are going to share answers to all questions you might have.

Screen Printing Costs Depends on These 9 Factors

Here are some components that all screen-printing businesses use to generate their pricing schedules:

1. Color to Be Printed On (Color of Shirt)

The cost of screen printing depends on color of the shirt you want to print on. The cheapest option screen-printing is to opt for white fabric. The darker the shirt is, the costlier it becomes. The choice of colors explains why black colors are always high on the pricing list. As you know black is a mix of multiple colors.

The main difference in t shirt printing prices between the two shirts is whether it is black (dark color) or white. That is why some printers charge slightly lower for light colors like navy blue and increase prices for dark colored apparel.

Dark garments require either additional colors or an under-base color to allow the ink to sit on the garment’s surface and enhance the color. Without an under-base, each color must be used at least two to three times for better coverage. Because of this extra base color the printing cost of shirt color increases.

Every additional color means you will be paying for more ink, more electricity, more investment funds, pay more labor and more additional fees that are two or three times higher than an average custom shirts printing when using white or light colored fabric.

2. Number of Colors The Design Has

The more the number of designs to be used on the shirt the more expensive it will be. Printers usually separate each color to get the desired design. What you need to understand all the colors in the artwork are independent and are printed separately.

The reason why the number of colors increases the price is simply that more colors equal more materials and consequently, labor increases the cost. So more additional color means more additional cost in screen printing process.

3. The Fabric Used in Shirt

In the screen printing business, printing costs depend on fabrics as well, like other screen printing equipment. The most cost-effective garments are cotton fabric-made shirts. The price remains almost the same for blended cotton or pure cotton fabric made shirts. As long there is some percentage of cotton fabrics in clothes price will remain in a similar range.

Fabrics like nylon and moisture-wicking are on the higher side of the pricing scale.

Also read: History Of Textile Printing & History Textile Fabrics

4. Quality and Type of Shirt

Shirts can’t be the same and it is the printer’s job to know what to do when working on different fabric made clothes. The heavier the garment, the higher the cost. Heavier shirts and other garments are usually most used during festival time. Promotional products activities do not last for a long time.

As much as style increased by custom screen printing the price will increase as well.

How much does Screen Printing Cost

5. Quantity of Printing Shirts at Once

Large quantity may not necessarily mean a high cost, although it’s decreased cost in many ways. Most printing companies will have a non-official policy to lower the price per shirt when the order exceeds a specific large number. Most companies call them bulk discounts.

Some businesses may work on the reverse by reducing the cost per shirt when you increase the order and thus do not need a minimum quantity to affect the immediate cost.

6. Screen Print Size & Garment Size

The size of the garment to undergo screen-printing also determines the price therefore the argument is that smaller shirts have less fabric than the adult ones but they undergo the same printing process. Here screen printing machine has no role in pricing all most.

In case you want to know the price of a youth tee screen printing cost, the price will be more than what would pay for normal popular sizes. It’s mainly happens to screen setup costs and repeated screen fee.

So in printing business its important to go with popular common sizes to get cheap costing output.

7. Placement of Design in a Screen Printed Garments

Placement depends on designer’s mind, where he wants to show the print. But most common areas you can expect to see a print is on either the back or the front of the shirt, around the chest area.

Some firms decide to treat the placements differently by calling those special print locations with some running on the sleeves and may incur extra coins for that. People like to see artwork running the neckline along the ribs or any other points of interest.

Sometimes printing on exceptional place of a shirt can increase or decrease the cost. You need to consider the placement of a design as a factor that can interfere with your pricing.

8. Type of Ink And Its Color

Special screen-printing inks or ink colors may increase the screen printing prices and eventually the cost. Likewise, using rhinestones or glittering elements will, of course, increase the cost. We need to choose ink carefully.

So we can say costing of screen printing depends on Ink type as well.

9. Design of Artwork to Be Printed

The artwork is an important consideration that you should not fail to scrutinize its implications on cost per shirts piece. In many cases, people seem to have a better idea of what they want to see as a final print output. Most of them have designs from the internet but don’t have a clear idea about pricing.

Artwork as a serious consideration has many myths surrounding it. The best you can do is to get a serious designer with screen-printing skills to get a replica of an original version of a design that you can use. You will be able to control the pricing by recreating the design by controlling the design size and color combination.

If you’re assuming that a screen printer who knows how to print on paper will be able to do the same with fabric, you may be surprised to find that the design costs go up. That’s because printing on fabric is a different process than printing on paper.

Screen Printing Setup Fees

The screen-printing setup fees involve preparing the printer to push the ink through screens and into the shirt. Printer preparation involves three main stages:

  • Preparing the screens so that your designs can pass through them
  • Exposing the design through the screens
  • Clean the screen after the printing process is complete

Still, the setup fees depend on many external factors as well. Like the business location in the world. To take a rough idea you can calculate yourself, if the setup fee for one design is $20 then it will be distributed into the total number of printed shirts. For example:

  • For 30 shirts, 3 color print = $60 set up. $60 costing for 30 shirts, so $2.00 per shirt
  • For 100 shirts, 2 color print = $50 set up. $50 costing for 100 shirts, so $0.5 per shirt
  • For 700 shirts, 1 color print = $30 set up. $30 costing for 700 shirts, so $0.04 per shirt
  • For 20,000 shirts, 1 color print = $30 set up. $30 costing for 20,000 shirts, so $0.0015 per shirt

I hope now you can see clearly how bulk printing can minimize the setup and overall cost of a screen print of a shirt.

5 Ways to Price Your Screen Printing Competitively

The most straight forward answer to this gives the following calculation:

(Price of Garment * Garment Markup) + (Printing Fee – Quantity Discount) = Shirt Price

Some would like to add other things such as overhead costs, ink costs, setup fee, screen charges, time taken on the press machine capacity of the printer, etc.  If we decide to follow every aspect of pricing based on such details will give us different costs. Some general principles will give any printing business company the best approach to getting competitive prices in the printing market.

You only need to observe the following 5 things to maintain an edge in screen-printing prices. These are:

  1. Research your competition’s pricing.
  2. Find out what your customers are willing to pay.
  3. Set your prices based on your printing and others costs plus a fair profit margin, calculate it before you make any decision.
  4. Offer discounts and other incentives to attract customers.
  5. Review your prices periodically to make sure they are still competitive.

All others expenses may include, which will all add up to the overall costs and need to be part of the budgeting price.

A printing business that ships shirts to its customers should not ignore shipping and fulfillment costs as well. During the production process, make sure that your costs include all transit costs when moving shirts from one region to another.

FAQs on Screen Printing

Is screen printing expensive?

Screen printing is a bit more expensive than other printing methods, but it is worth it because the results are amazing. Screen printing is a great way to get high quality prints on a variety of materials.

Is heat press or screen printing cheaper?

There is no direct answer to this question as it depends on a number of factors, as you know already. In general, specially in bulk printing (what printing business normally do) screen printing is typically more affordable than heat press printing.

Read this article to know more about how to heat set screen printing ink with heat press.

Final Words

The information shared above gives the impression that screen-printing requires each color to be treated independently. For example, if you have a design artwork with five colors, you need to prepare five different screens so that one screen takes a single color.

The entire printing process needs time, materials, and labor to complete. And the onus is on the company to cover costs and factor them into the total cost.

Some printing companies place advertisements indicating no printing setup fees in order to offset other costs. However, this should not dissuade you from considering their services, as these costs can be covered in other ways. One way to avoid these fees is to print large quantities in bulk.

I hope this guide helped you to understand what’s the screen printing cost for a shirt all about. Thanks for reading!

Read More Printing Guide on:

How to do Screen Printing on T-Shirt

Heat Transfer vs. Screen Printing & What The Difference?

How to Wash Screen Printed Shirts (11 Pro Tips)

Types of T-shirt Printing & Let Know About All the Different Methods

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