Screen printing costs and pricing can be confusing.
Most screen printing companies will provide you with a price table, price guide, or screen printing pricing list. This is a way to quickly see costs associated with printing. Most price lists are broken down by the quantity and number of colors in your artwork.
Pricing lists will typically be supplied to you by request, as most companies do not provide this information directly through their site.
We recommend gathering several different price guides, and shopping it around to make sure you are getting the best deal. Remember that you get what you pay for. It is not uncommon for brands to lose money going with the cheapest printer. The cost to reproduce your order with another company due to mistakes, and spoilage, can be much higher than simply working with a reputable company.
As a good rule of thumb, most quality places are not the cheapest but will supply you with premium quality and service.
How much does screen printing cost?
Screen printing pricing is dependent on several major components.
Factors to consider, include:
- Quantity of garments and prints
- Number of colors printed
- Size of print
- Amount of ink coverage
- Number of locations
- Type of garment.
The process of screen printing is very different from other forms of printing. Each color in the artwork requires a separate screen. As you get into higher volume orders, there are price breaks per garment, and per set-up fee.
By working with a reputable and reliable screen printer, you can assure your project is going to be produced to the highest quality which will save you money and time.
+ Garment price
+ Set-up cost
+ Printing costs
+ Fulfillment and shipping costs
= Your screen printing pricing.
What other costs are associated?
The screen printing rate per shirt is not the only cost involved with printing apparel. There are other costs to be aware of.
Some of the additional expenses include the following;
- The blank shirt cost
- The quality
- The fit
- The brand of the blank apparel supplier
- Setup fees (artwork prep, screen setup, etc)
Business’s can set up wholesale licenses and provide a state and federal tax id to get access to wholesale distribution. However, screen printing partners can order shirts for you and will typically have aggressive pricing discounts, due to the larger volumes ordered on a monthly or yearly basis.
Another large expense can be shipping and fulfillment costs. If you are ordering your shirts direct from a supplier, you will need to ship the goods to your printer and perhaps ship them again to you or your customers. Make sure you consider all shipping and transit costs when pricing your apparel for merchandise production.
What are setup fees for screen printing?
Although technology has increased exponentially in the apparel industry over the last decade, screen printing is still one of the most labor intensive industries. This is especially true when it comes to set up costs and processes involved for setting multiple styles, colors and skus.
The process for setting up screens is one that has to be repeated, recycled and cleaned each time. There are several reasons that screen setups exist and effect screen printing pricing. Burning a screen is a 5-8 step process depending on the shop or operation.
Artwork preparation is also often factored into the screen cost. You then need to print to film, expose each screen, produce/print, reclaim and coat for next production.
Not only is there time associated with burning the screens, there is also a lot of material cost that goes into re-creating a film / screen.
Some rough general pricing for setup can be estimated as:
- 50 shirts, 3 color print = $20 set up. $20 into 50 shirts = $1.2 per shirt
- 200 shirts, 1 color print = $20 set up. $20 into 200 shirts = $.30 per shirt
- 800 shirts, 1 color print = $20 set up. $20 into 800 shirts = $.07 per shirt
As you can see, when you have a graphic with a lot of colors it can cost more to produce a smaller amount, than a larger volume.
Screen printing minimums?
Screen printing minimum quantity requirements vary depending on which company you are working with. In most cases, an order of 5 shirts or less will be produced with a digital print either by direct to garment or heat transfer. However, there are some places that will screen print single shirts as long as the color count is low.
Most places have minimums per style, color, and artwork, that can look like this:
- 24 shirts – minimum for 1 color print
- 36 shirts – minimum for 2 color print
- 48 shirts – minimum for 3 color print
If you are producing a new design or something for the first time and need samples, in most cases you can pay a premium and produce just one shirt. Remember that it is best to at least hit your printers required minimum for sample runs to make it worth the cost.
Why does it cost more for dark garments?
Dark garments cost more to produce for several reasons. The first is that it requires additional colors to be printed or an under-base to allow a surface for pigments to sit on making the colors brighter. If an under-base is not use, each color has to be printed 2-3 times to allow for better coverage.
So you are paying for more ink coverage and up to 3x the amount of work to achieve the same color opacity as what would show on a light colored garment.