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The cost of printing custom t shirts is often the number one factor in deciding whether to go with one t-shirt printer over the other. To answer the question of where to get t shirts made for cheap without sacrificing quality presents a challenge if you’re not familiar with t-shirt printers. Making the right decision can impact how your judgement is perceived by family, teammates, or even your boss, so it’s no wonder that choosing can cause some anxiety.

quality printers

What factors into making custom t shirts cheap or expensive? There are two major aspects that influence the cost per piece of custom decorated apparel. The number of colors used in the design and the product the design is going to be printed on.

Some very cheap t-shirt printers do not disclose the type or brand name of the t-shirt that will be used in the price per item, or they only offer unfamiliar products. If you’re unfamiliar with t-shirt products, you may not understand that a really poor quality t-shirt will affect the likelihood that the shirt will make it through the wash a few times. T-shirt printers are rarely t-shirt manufacturers but a reputable printer will have a deep knowledge of quality products. If you receive custom printed shirts and the hems are sewn crooked or they are unraveling, alarm bells should be ringing.

washing clothes

If you’re planning on placing a large order or if a lot is riding on the outcome of the printed t-shirts, a test print is the best way to evaluate a printer. However these do no come free. It’s also important to understand that most t-shirt printers will default to digital printing if you order just one t-shirt or even a few. This is the most cost effective way to print a small batch t-shirt order. If your end goal is to have screen printed shirts, communicate to the printer that you are running a test and need to see the quality of their workmanship before placing a larger order. You’ll then put them on notice to price your test print for screen printing which can be quite expensive but will afford you the best “proof” prior to placing a large order. You can evaluate their print quality and the apparel product at the same time.

The second biggest influence to price is the number of colors in the design. Screen printing requires that different screens be burned. There’s no actual fire involved though. It’s more the fabrication of a stencil. Each color requires a screen of its own and here is where a lot of cost is incurred. It’s a photographic process and the screens are coated with a light sensitive emulsion. The art is sized and taped to the screen in the size required for the t-shirt design and print and then burned onto the screen with use of halogen light.

screen print colors

These steps need to be reproduced for each color in the design. The time spent separating and setting up the screens for each color will factor into the price per unit as well. To keep costs down, stick with a simple, one color design. However, if you need a design that is more complicated, getting custom t shirts cheap can be achieved with the quantity of your order. The price per shirt ordinarily goes down per item when there is an opportunity to produce in volume.

burned screened

A final point to assess when making a decision about a cheap t-shirt printer is the level of customer service and reliability. Check to see if they have customer reviews and the longevity of their business. There is little recourse if you order from a custom t-shirt printer in another country and are displeased with the results. Also consider the longevity of the company. A custom apparel printer that’s been established for a period of time has a reputation to protect. Quality, inexpensive t-shirt printing is no myth if you find middle ground with an experienced t-shirt printer.

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