Buyers Guide for a T-shirt Printing Business (or any Customization Business)

You are ready to start (or grow) your own business. This leads to a tough decision, what are your next steps? Potentially… What are your first steps? At this point you have made some choices though, you want to create customized products for your customers. Now that you know you want to do that, how will you do it. That is what this information is all about, what is the right machine for you to create customized products for your customers.

The answer to this comes by answering a series of questions, in a very specific order. This will help you make the best decision that will lead you towards the road of success. Rather than starting your journey by picking a machine or technology, then choosing a brand. You should consider what machines best suit your t-shirt printing business (or any customization business). Although t-shirts are the most popular, today’s printer technology can be used to customize a wide range of items such as mugs, phone cases, keychains and so much more.

Question 1

Who will you sell to or what do you want to sell?

This is the most important question to consider when choosing a t-shirt printing machine. You should understand who you want to target and what you want to sell. This will help narrow your choices and make sure the technology you choose suits your business needs. When this idea first came into your head it probably started with one of these two things.

  1. You have a product that you want to make. Custom t-shirts, tumblers, beer can coolers, etc.
  2. There is a group of people you want to target. Local schools, New Moms, Urban Fashion, Car clubs, etc.

Start off by writing down a few sentences on one (or both) of these questions. Once you know who or what, you can move on to question two.


Question 2

What technology will allow me to customize the blanks I want to sell?

Now you have a better understanding of what product or group of people you want to sell. The next question is what technology will allow you to accomplish your goal. This is important because the technology you choose will ultimately help determine your success. Many people get the idea of a technology they have heard about, but it’s actually not ideal for their customer.

Here are some popular technologies and what they can offer your business.


With this technology, you can get vivid colors for both hard goods and apparel, including polyester and light-colored fabrics. These transfers are created by using a special ink and paper that ‘sublimates’ or ‘transfers’ from the paper to your blank good with heat and pressure.



Vinyl Cutting

This easy-to-use technology is very popular cause of its versatility and simple operation. You choose colors of vinyl material and cut a design into it. You then heat press the vinyl onto t-shirts and other garments. Vinyl comes in a large amount of colors and styles, including glitter and patterns.



Print & Cut

Combining a printer and a cutter together creates the best of both worlds. You can digitally print pictures or logos, and then cut them out to transfer to t-shirts or create stickers. This is a versatile technology that can create beautiful professional prints.



White Toner Printing

One of the newest technologies for customizing goods. This uses a toner printing technology to print white toner and colors on a special transfer paper. This allows you to create full color prints at a fast pace.



Question 3

How much will I need to produce in a day / week?

Before you start looking for a t-shirt printing machine or other technology, it’s important to consider how much you will need to produce in a day or week. This will help you determine the size and type of t-shirt printing machine that best fits your needs. For instance, if you plan on printing t-shirts part time, for small businesses, you may find that your goal is to sell 50 shirts a week. In this case, a printer that is small would fit your needs. Conversely, if you are working with a school that you know orders at least 1000 shirts a month, then you need to make sure the time you are working can handle doing 250 shirts a week (in the time you plan on working.)

If we break down a specific example.

You plan to work part time, 10 hours a week on a side hustle. You are thinking you will spend 5 hours a week making shirts and 5 hours a week talking to customers and doing paperwork. Your goal is to sell 50 shirts a week for this side hustle. Thus, you will need to be able to make 10 shirts an hour, which is reasonable for most technologies. Now if that goal were to double or triple, you would need to make sure the machine or technology could handle that extra throughput.

In conclusion, when looking for a t-shirt printer, consider the size of your printer. Generally speaking, larger printers will give you faster production.

Question 4

What space do you have for your business?

Another important factor to think about when starting a t-shirt printing business is the space you have for your business. Printing requires some type of space to store the equipment, materials, and finished products. This can be anything from a room in your home dedicated to your business or a space in your existing shop. Think about the size of the printer, heat press and supplies to make sure you are able to get it all to fit in the space provided. A large print and cut machine can do a lot, but it’s almost 3x wider than a compact toner printer.

Question 5

How much are you willing or able to invest?

How much are you willing or able to invest?

Your budget will play a role in deciding what type of t-shirt printing machine you can get. Larger and more versatile machines tend to be a larger investment but can do a lot more for your business. A larger investment could help you produce a more versatile product line, or faster production. This is great for a growing business, yet there is risk involved as you have to get the business up and running. Many people wish they would have gone bigger or better after a short period of time, so think through what you are willing to do to get your business going.

The great news with all of this is that financing is available for almost all equipment packages, so not all the money has to come out of your pocket at once. Both start-ups and existing businesses can finance equipment with all types of options including deferred payments or potentially 0% financing.

Question 6

After considering the above, which option is best for your business?

After considering your daily or weekly production needs, the space you have available, and how much you are willing to invest in a t-shirt printing machine, it’s time to make a decision. Many businesses are able to find the perfect t-shirt printing machine for their needs without much difficulty.

For example, if you need to produce 50 shirts a week on a part-time basis and have relatively limited space, then a compact toner printer may be the best option. This type of printer will allow you to produce small, unique designs quickly and efficiently.

On the other hand, if you need to produce more than 250 shirts a week and have access to a larger space for your business, then you might want to consider going with something that’s a larger investment to reach your business goals.

Further if you want to produce mugs and shirts, you will want to consider a sublimation printer and heat press, which can handle both products.

Remember that the best printer for your business is a question for you to answer. It might not be the same as someone says online or a friend did for their business. Your individual ideas and goals are unique and so is the best printer for your business.

To learn more about printer packages visit the buyer’s guide product page for more information and videos on how everything works. Of course, if you need more help our team is here to answer all of your questions.