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how to buy custom printed T-shirts

Confused about how to order custom printing?

If you are unclear about the screen printing process, basic terminology and what to expect, you will find your answer here.

If there is something pertaining to custom printing or screen printing you would like to know that is not addressed here, please click to send e-mail and we will do our best to provide an answer. Please Note: The content of your question may be publicly posted; no personal information will be posted. See our note on privacy.

The basic screen printing process consists of preparing a screen and then passing ink through the screen on to a surface. The density of the image determines the density of the ink.

An extremely broad range of items are screen printed. The divergent list runs from the huge banner hung across Main Street for the parade, to the logo on the water bottle you may be drinking from. Included are textiles, car windshields, eating utensils, plastic house insulation sheets, watches, furniture, industrial machines and of course, our favorite, the humble and magnificent T-shirt.

A screen is prepared through the application of a photographic surface emulsion on the screen. Current technology allows for a special paper to be printed on an ordinary computer printer. Since each screen can only print one color, an image may be broken separated into layers; that is, each layer is one color. The layers are then "reassembled" during printing. Through the "indexing" process, the actual printing can be done with great precision. This image is then transferred to the screen.

Screen printing machines vary greatly in size. There are small manual units that can be operated by one person. There are high volume 16 color automatic presses. The principles are the same. Ink is pushed across a mesh screen on to the printed surface.

The bottom line is that screen printing is a labor intensive process. There is a noticeable difference in quality between a good printer and a not so good printer. Most screen printers are competent.

Sports clothing is actually very standard. Almost all printers carry the same catalogs. The market is dominated by a few companies such as Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, Lee, JERZEES, Gildan, Anvil and Gitano. Size does vary between manufacturer. If you are ordering for a large group, X-Large seems to fit most people. Be wary if ordering tie dye as the process may shrink the shirt down a full size. Your critical choice is in determining a printer.

Screen printing is a major industry. Retail market entry does not necessarily require a great deal of capital. In fact, at least a few of the press manufacturers provide equipment and supply packages that allow for a small set up with little or no cash up front.

The practical risk to the consumer comes from the usual risks of contracting for goods and services. The printing itself will probably be done in a competent manner. Will it be done on time? Will there be some hidden charge not disclosed until after the fact? Will your "managing" of the Order take inordinate time? exists to help the small and large custom printed T-shirt buyer. We use our experience to process these Orders and give all but the largest organizations far greater buying power than they would have individually. We are confident enough in our business to say that if you have been dealing with a screen printer for awhile and are happy with the quality, service and price, by all means stay with that company.

If you have had problems with a printer, are new to the market or cost conscious, please try out our Request For Quote (RFQ) form. Potential custom printed T-shirt buyers can quickly obtain price and availability information.

You need to have the following clear. Of course, the more you order the less your per unit cost. Look at the total overall cost, don't be misled by printers that will waive "screen charges" and then jack up the cost elsewhere.

Each color requires the preparation of a screen. Therefore, there is usually a "per color" or "screen charge." Extra charges come in on pockets, X-Large+ sizes, colored shirts, heavier material and much more.

Make sure costs and dates are clear. Any experienced printer will require you to "sign off" on the final art and contract.

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