Screen Printing Equipment & Supply Startup Checklist


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 overbuy. Most printers rarely use more than a 13″ wide film, so an inexpensive device like the Epson 1430 will do the job.

Screens – Static aluminum 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. You’ll need Temperature Strip #5 for the proper temperature range.

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.

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.

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4 Responses to Screen Printing Equipment & Supply Startup Checklist

  1. Thanks for sharing this excellent list. What kind of strength of pressure washer do you suggest? That’s something that comes in a wide variety so I am curious what other people are using. Once again, great post! Thanks!

    • Terry Combs says:

      Thanks Jeff. I’ve tried lots of power washers, and found that the minimal pressure machines will do the job just fine. If your screens are properly prepared, the emulsion should wash out with good garden hose pressure. A pressure washer just makes this a quicker process. Any device will do the trick.

  2. I constantly spent my half an hour to read this blog’s articles or reviews every day
    along with a mug of coffee.

  3. Pedro M says:

    Hi Terry, I’m interested to find out if you will be offering in the near future an screen printing seminar like the one in Youtube. I’m very interested in taking a full course with an authority like you in the business, I’ve been thinking about this career change for a while now. I’m an ex Marine living in Costa Rica, so I can travel to the States and take the course.

    Thank you
    Semper Fi
    Pedro M

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