Screen Printing vs Heat Transfers: Cost, Time, Profit

As a garment decorator, you have two primary methods of doing business – screen printing and heat transfers. Stahls’ performed a time study to find out how long it took to complete a job of 6 with screen printing vs heat transfer
For this test we used a 2-color design and left chest placement.

**Screen Printing**

Screen printing has a far longer set up time. In order to print the design you have to:

– Create and expose the screen
– Wash and dry
– Prep the screen
– Register
– Print

Altogether, the process of printing the 6-shirt job takes 38 minutes with screen printing. Without labor, the cost of screen printing per design comes out to $6.67. Now let’s take a look at heat transfer printing.

**Heat Transfer Printing**

Here are the steps required to apply a design to a garment using a heat press:

– Cut the design from a vinyl cutter
– Weed the design
– Apply with a heat press

The same job took 21 minutes to complete using heat transfers. Without labor, the cost of heat transfers per design comes out to $0.45

**Cost with Labor**

Now let’s factor labor in. With screen printing, most of the labor happens up front with setup. After setup the cost of labor falls considerably and the amount is amortized over the number of pieces that you make. With heat transfers, the same amount of labor is involved with each piece.

**Screen printing and heat transfers go hand in hand**

When you do a side-by-side comparison of cost with labor added, you’ll see that each method is well suited for specific types of jobs. Screen printing makes sense when the quantity is high enough because the quantity will outweigh the labor in set up. Smaller quantities are well-suited for heat printing, since the labor cost remains the same throughout.

Heat applied graphics and screen printing go hand in hand, so in order to make the maximum profit for your business, you need to have access to both.

The heat press featured in this video was the Hotronix Fusion heat press, available at:

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