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Screen Printing Costs and Pricing can be confusing.  Here’s our breakdown so you understand why it’s this way.


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. There are companies that go on a job to job basis but this is fairly uncommon.

Screen printing pricing lists will typically be supplied to you by request as most companies do not provide this information directly through their site. Its best to gather several different price guides and shop around to make sure you are getting the best deal. However, 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. Most quality places are not the cheapest but will supply you with premium quality and service.

Screen printing pricing list on office desk

How much does screen printing cost?


Screen printing is a unique process used to transfer ink onto apparel or other substrates.  Screen printing pricing is dependent on several major components. The most important factors in pricing are the quantity of prints ordered, and the number of colors printed.

Other variables that can affect cost include the following:

  • Size of print
  • Amount of ink coverage.
  • Number of locations
  • Type of garment.

It is important to review our FAQs to make sure you know everything associated with making a successful project.

The process of screen printing is very different from other forms of printing. Each color in the artwork requires a separate screen. Screen printing is cost effective for higher volume orders because there are quantity breaks which helps lower the cost per shirt price. Set-up fees also decrease per shirt.

It is best to shop around to make sure you are getting charged a competitive rate. However, you’ll find that you get what you pay for, especially with screen printing. It can often end up costing more if you don’t align with the right partner. The cost of replacements, misprints and missed deadlines can add up. 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 + artwork + set-up cost + printing costs + fulfillment and shipping costs = Your screen printing pricing. Your price x2 or x3 is the proper formula for success when it comes to selling your printed tees.




What other costs are associated with screen printing?


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 and the brand of the blank apparel supplier. 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 prices due to the larger volumes ordered on a monthly or yearly basis.

Other expenses may include screen fees otherwise known as set-up or art prep fees. These can all add up to your overall cost and should be considered when pricing out jobs or shopping for different rates for your project. Artwork fees are another expense that are often not thought about.

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.

Most shops charge anywhere from $10 – $30 per color per screen. If you are printing less than 50 shirts and have more than 3 colors in the graphic, the cost will be much higher per shirt due to the set up costs. For example….

50 t-shirts 3 color print = $20 set up. $20 into 50 shirts = $1.2 per shirt

200 t-shirts 1 color print = $20 set up. $20 into 200 shirts = $.30 per shirt

800 t-shirts 1 color print = $20 set up. $20 into 800 shirts = $.07 per shirt

So… When you have a graphic with a lot of colors. It can often cost more to produce a smaller amount than a larger volume because the cost per shirt is so much higher.


Screen Printing Minimums?


Screen printing minimum quantity requirements vary depending on which company you are working with. Some places do not have minimums. 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 a 12 shirt minimum per color in the artwork. For example..

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. But if you if you do it this way don’t expect it to be cheap. Its 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 underbase to allow a surface for pigments to sit on making the colors brighter. If an underbase is not use, each color has to be printed 2-3 times to allow for better coverage.

Not only do you have additional cost due to extra screen set up fees, you are also 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.