Starting a Silkscreen or Screen Printing Business

If you are looking for a low cost business with good profit potential, you might consider going into the silk screen printing business. Despite the advent of newer digital printing techniques, there still are many situations where the silk screen process is the most cost efficient and versatile. It is versatile because you can print on almost any surface, from paper and plastic to garments.
Silk screen printing involves printing of images by making ink pass through a fine mesh screen template. Setting up a silk screen printing business is very easy. Here are the key steps to starting one:
Focus on a product line. It is recommended that you specialize on a niche. This will simplify your work, utilize less capital, and make your company easier to recall as you will be remembered by your product specialty. This does not mean that you should refuse other types of silk screen printing—only that you should have a main line. One of the most promising is t-shirt printing as it has a large market.
Obtain the equipment needed. The main equipment is the silk screen printing machine. There are three types of silk screen printing machines: flat-bed, cylinder and rotary. You can also categorize them into manual, semi-automatic and automatic. Note that the most expensive automated machines cost several millions. However, you can start manually with a small capital since you will only need the screen fabric, the frame, squeegee, exposure unit, computer and image manipulation software, emulsion scoop coater and emulsion rack. If you have sufficient capital and are targeting large buyers, you can buy the most expensive automated machines in order to meet volume orders on time.
Get silk screen supplies. Silk screen printing uses specialized types of inks which serve different purposes. Learn what type of ink to use. Some of the types of inks used are Plastisol (used in printing to garments), water based, UV curable and special effects inks. A variety of inks are essential to be compatible with the material you will print on. For making images, you use photo emulsion chemical; for cleaning the emulsion from the screen, you need emulsion remover chemical. There are other essential supplies you should research about.
Hire manpower needed. If you are starting small, you may be able to do almost everything yourself. In case you do plan to hire, here are the critical functions: Silk screen printing operator, graphic artist and sales person. You will need a graphic artist because the image given by customers must be transformed into a usable screen. That is, unless the customer already has a screen done or is reusing an old screen.
Try to make money from graphic design. Very often, customers do not have ready images for screen printing and would want to have art work done. If you have a skilled graphic artist, you could charge a reasonable amount for the service and earn substantial extra income. Offering graphic design services also makes it less likely for customers to go to other printers.
Recycle materials. Screens are very expensive; you should try to reuse screens whenever possible by proper use of emulsion remover and water. You should also retrieve excess ink for use in other jobs.
To know more about the business, BusinessCoach, Inc., a leading business seminar provider, conducts a seminar entitled “Starting a Silk Screen Printing Business.” Contact (02) 727-5628, (02) 727-8860, (0915) 205-0133 or visit for details.

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*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. C-4, Sunday, November 11, 2012. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.