Understanding screen printing estimates and pricing

When it comes time to ask a screen printer for a quote, you may not know what to expect. This guide will help you, as a potential customer, understand how screen printing pricing works.

Before we discuss pricing, let’s quickly go over the basics of screen printing.

What is screen printing?

Screen printing is the process of using a flat squeegee to press ink onto a garment through a mesh screen covered in an emulsion film with openings where the ink should pass through the screen onto the garment. Each print color in a design will need a different screen, so all screen printers will factor in the price of setting up a screen for every ink color.

Each screen, or mesh stretched over a wooden or aluminum frame, is covered with emulsion which is sensitive to light. In order to “burn” or create a screen, a positive of the image is placed onto the screen and placed over a light for a specific amount of time. The emulsion which is not covered by the positive will harden while exposed to light while the emulsion that is covered by the positive image will wash out using water from a hose or pressure washer. The process of burning a screen, from start to finish, is a significant part of the screen printing process.

Screen Printing Pricing

Pricing for screen printing is dependent upon multiple variables, so you can’t expect to get an exact estimate unless you provide the following details.

  • The Garment: There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of different t-shirt, sweatshirt, tank top, and other apparel styles you can choose from. Be specific if you want a specific brand or fabric type, like 100% cotton, 50/50, or tri-blend. Most printers would offer discounts for larger quantities, so ask what the quantities ranges are so that you can determine the best value. You may also pay extra for certain types of apparel, like nylon jackets or 100% polyester garments.
  • The Print: As explained in the Screen Printing basics, every color in screen printing is printed separately, so the print price will increase with every color you add to your design. Sometimes you may want to combine two similar colors to save money. If you require a print on more than one place on the garment, you will pay for each location to be printed.
  • The Art: Do you have high-resolution artwork that you can provide to the screen printer? High resolution artwork should be 300dpi and true to the size you want on your garment. This means a 10″ x 5″ design should be 3000 pixels wide and 1500 pixels tall. Images that you see on websites are only 72dpi, so if you provide a small image that you found online, the screen printer will need to recreate the artwork and may charge extra for this work.
  • The Ink: Just like garments, there are many different ink colors and ink types. You may decide that you want glitter in your design, puff inks to make your design to look and feel 3D, or that you want a reflective ink that appears to glow when exposed to light.

Every printer is different, and there are many other things that a screen printer must remember when setting up an order, but if you can provide details around the garment, the print, the art, and the ink, you will have a better experience with getting your first quote.

Breaking Down the Quote

Let’s pretend that you want 100 black Gildan DryFit 50/50 t-shirts, printed one color on the front and three colors on the back with glitter ink on the front. Your quote may look something like this:

100 Black T-Shirts: $400 ($4 per t-shirt)

One color print on front: $100 ($1 per t-shirt)

Three color print on back: $300 ($3 per t-shirt)

Glitter Ink: $50 ($.50 per shirt)

4 Screens: $100 ($25 per screen)

So your total cost would end up being $950 for 100 t-shirts or $9.50 per t-shirt using the numbers above. To get an estimate from Lehigh Valley Printing, visit the apparel page, choose the garment you want, and get a free instant quote for screen printing, embroidery, vinyl names and numbers, and full-color direct to garment t-shirt printing.

by Lehigh Valley Printing