Here is a list of equipment and supplies that are recommended for every new screen printer by industry expert, Terry Combs.
Six Color Manual Press – With a six color machine you can print most anything.
Conveyor Dryer – Required for any real production, and air flow is a plus.
Flash Dryer – A must if you’re printing on dark garments. Buy basic. Extra bells and whistles won’t matter here. ON and OFF are all the controls you’ll need.
Exposure Unit – Pinpoint light source is best, but the sun will work on a budget.
Washout Sink – You can buy something professionally made or improvise.
Power Washer – Used for reclaiming screens for reuse.
Heat Press – Optional but necessary if you plan to do any team printing.
Film Output Device – An Epson inkjet printer and RIP software is the package of choice for creating your film positives. Don’t over buy. Most printers rarely use more than a 13″ wide film, so an inexpensive device like the Epson 1400 will do the job.
Screens – Wood frames are fine, and you should buy them pre-stretched.
12 -156 mesh – general printing
6 – 230 mesh – fine line
6 – 87 mesh – puff and athletic
Others as needed. You’ll want to end up with enough screens for several days production.
Squeegees – You’ll need them to be a minimum of 1” smaller on each side than the inside dimension of your screens.
6 approximately 15” with medium durometer blades
6 approximately 5” with medium durometer blades for left-chest designs
Others as needed – purchased by the inch
Inks – Buy a starter mixing system that allows you to mix any color, plus white, black and any common colors such as for local schools.
Scale – Necessary for weighing inks in mixing system.
Quart Containers – For use in mixing ink colors.
Spotting Gun – For cleaning plastisol drips, drops and fingerprints from printed garments. Requires spotting gun solution as well.
Curable Reducer – This product is used for thinning your inks.
Emulsion – A dual cure emulsion is the most forgiving and easiest to work with.
Scoop Coater – Used to coat emulsion onto your screens. At least 1” clearance required on each side from the inside dimension of your screen.
Emulsion Remover – Chemical used for degrading emulsion for screen reclaim.
Degreaser – Chemical for cleaning screens prior to coating with emulsion.
Ink Degrader – Chemical used to clean ink from screens after use.
Brushes – Soft bristle brushes (and separate) used for 1) Ink Degrader, 2) Emulsion Remover, and 3) Degreaser.
3” Tape and Tape Gun – For taping the inside of your screens before printing.
Temperature Tapes – These will help you determine actual dryer temperature.
Spray Adhesive – Low tack adhesive used to hold garments in place during printing. Comes in web or mist spray.
The Wish List
Retensionable Frames – After use, screen mesh will lose tension. Retensionable Frames allow you to tighten mesh after each use.
Safety Kleen Part Washer – Most larger shops use Safety Kleen part washer tanks to clean their squeegees and spatulas.
Tension Meter – This device when placed on a screen will tell you the tension of that screen, measured in Newtons.
Jacket Hold Down – Jacket printing requires the jacket be held firmly in place during printing with this printer attachment. Also you’ll need a plastisol ink additive such as Union Ink’s Nylobond.
Vacuum Platen – Another printer attachment, the vacuum platen holds flat stock products in place during printing. Required for printing transfers and bumper stickers.