If you've always been a creative soul with a passion for fashion, then starting your own t-shirt printing business might be the perfect way to turn your hobby into a money-making venture. And with technology becoming more and more advanced, it's now easier than ever to get started - all you need is a compact t-shirt printing machine for small business needs.
With a growing market and numerous eCommerce platforms available, there's plenty of opportunity for those with a knack for design to get their t-shirt printing business up and running in no time.
But before you take the plunge, it's important to do your research and make sure you have all the necessary equipment and supplies. In this article, we'll give you an overview of what you need to get started with t-shirt printing.
1. HTVRONT Auto Heat Press Machine
15" x 15"
automated heat press
- ⦿50% faster press time
- ⦿Auto pressure exertion
- ⦿Even heat distribution
- ⦿No manual pressure adjustment
Dimensions of the printer: 20x20x16in
Weight: 38 lbs
HTVRONT Auto Heat is an automatic printing machine for shirts that comes with FCC & UL certificates that guarantee your safety. Unlike traditional heat presses with manual pressing and uneven heating, this one lets your creativity shine with a single press. The machine is lightweight and comes in two colors - mint and white. Whether you want to print t-shirts on fabric or on ceramic, metal, or glass, this machine can do it all. HTVRONT Auto Heat also supports Heat Transfer Vinyl, Sublimation, and other tricky heat transfer projects.
An extremely easy-to-use clothes printing machine, the HTVRONT comes with detailed instructions so you can deliver your first product to the customers in no time. To get started, you should simply set the appropriate temperature and time for your material, pull out the drawer and place your product in the designated space. You'll then be required to choose one of the six modes - four presets and two customizable modes. There is also an automatic mode which is ideal for small businesses that need to make batches. The machine will then start automatically heating up and releasing clothes once it's done.
HTVRONT Auto Heat Press Machine comes with a heat press that measures 15x15 inches and offers a variety of features, including an LCD control panel, automatic lifting structure, and thermal insulation cover. The digital printing t-shirt machine also has a uniform heating feature that uses a pioneer dual-zone heating engine. It lets the printer heat up fast and reaches a maximum temperature of 420F (210C) in only six minutes. With exclusive H-Cooling technology and multilayer heat insulation material, the press machine is designed to protect your hands from heat.
Instead of manual press adjustment, HTVRONT boasts an auto pressure exertion feature. It allows the machine to automatically apply even pressure to all your prints that are up to 1 inch thick and control the optimum pressure, ensuring every design turns out flawless. This is a great feature that takes all the guesswork out of heat transfer printing. Finally, instead of having to wait and keep an eye on your t-shirt project, the machine will auto-release the item after pressing it so you can move on to the next one.
When it comes to this t-shirt printing machine price, rest assured that HTVRONT won’t break the bank. It is a bit cheaper compared to other similar machines on the market, but it doesn’t mean it lacks quality. On the contrary, this machine is made of high-quality materials and features durable construction that will last for years. At the moment, you can get it on Amazon for $285.99, and you can add A-SUB Sublimation Paper sized 11x17 inches (110 sheets) for as little as $32.99, and HTVRONT Clear HTV Vinyl for Sublimation which will cost additional $7.99.
2. VEVOR Heat Press 15 x 15
15” x 15"
manual heat press
- ⦿Teflon insulation coating
- ⦿Adjustable pressure knob
- ⦿Able to reach very high temperatures
- ⦿Requires lots of manual work
Dimensions of the printer: 25.6 x 15.7 x 13.9 inches
Weight: 39.7 lbs
VEVOR is one of the leading brands that specialize in equipment and tools, and have a large selection of top-rated shipping label and receipt printers, vinyl cutters, office chairs, and more. With a predicted service life of 20,000 hours, the VEVOR Heat Press is a durable and reliable t-shirt printing machine for a small business that will serve you for years to come. It lets you easily transfer images onto various kinds of materials, including cotton, cloth, HTV, ceramics, glass, fabrics, flax, nylon, puzzles, phone shells, etc.
With a 15" x 15" heating pad, this machine lets you print designs of almost any size and shape. The machine is ETL/FCC listed, meaning it meets all the safety standards in the US.
The VEVOR Heat Press comes with a control panel that allows you to easily set the temperature and time. The machine features a temperature range of 0-450oF and a time range of 0-999 seconds. Thanks to its silica-gel pad and Teflon coating, the printer provides consistent temperature and uniform heating, which results in vivid and long-lasting prints. You'll also get an additional heat-resistant sponge that you can put under the silicone mat to achieve better printing effects.
This commercial shirt printing machine is easy to use and comes with an instruction manual that will help you learn the ropes. First, you'll be required to set the pressure, program temperature and time, and start transferring the design. Once the heating is done, you'll hear an alarm to remind you to take out the product. Unfortunately, there isn't an automatic mode that would let you set the machine and walk away. However, the whole process is pretty straightforward and doesn't require any technical skills.
We love the VEVOR Heat Press adjustable pressure knob, which lets you adjust the pressure depending on the thickness of the materials. It's a full-range knob, so you can turn it clockwise or counterclockwise until you achieve the desired pressure. The handle has a double arm force structure, so you can be sure that the pressure is evenly distributed on all sides.
Even though it’s not the cheapest t-shirt printing machine in our selection, the VEVOR Heat Press is affordable and provides great value. It will cost you $169.99, and you'll also get a Silica-gel pad and sponge pad in the package. You can purchase a package of 110 sheets of A-SUB Sublimation Paper for $32.99 and three PTFE Teflon Sheets for Heat Press Transfer at $6.99 along with the machine.
3. Cricut EasyPress 2
12” x 10”
manual heat press
- ⦿Portable and lightweight
- ⦿Affordable price
- ⦿Heats up in under 3 minutes
- ⦿Relatively small heating area
Dimensions of the printer: 16.69 x 7.55 x 15.35 inches
Weight: 14 lbs
A lightweight and portable machine that comes with a carry bag for easy transportation and an iron-on press, the Cricut EasyPress 2 is one of the best heat transfer products on the market. With a 10" x 12" heating area, it's perfect for small projects, and you can take it with you wherever you go.
The high-quality t-shirt printing machine has a temperature range of up to 400°F and a time range of up to 60 seconds, and you'll be able to transfer your designs onto various materials: t-shirts, sweatshirts, banners, blankets, and even use it for sublimation printing. It is also compatible with all infusible ink products and most major brands of heat-transfer vinyl. It boasts a beautiful and modern design and comes in several colors to choose from: Lilac, Mint, and Raspberry.
The Cricut EasyPress 2 boasts an advanced heat plate design that ensures even heat distribution and consistent temperature throughout the entire surface. Thanks to its ceramic-coated heating plate, Cricut heats up quickly and evenly, while the iron-on press heats up in under three minutes, making it the best t-shirt printing machine for beginners.
The speed of delivering prints is excellent, as it takes about one minute to transfer a design onto a t-shirt. The machine also features an auto-shutoff function that turns the machine off after 13 minutes of inactivity or no button push. Once you're done with printing, you can lay the machine on the insulated safety base that protects your working surface.
When it comes to the actual printing procedure, you need to set the temperature and timer to preheat your garment. If you're not sure about the right setting for your project, you can consult the online Cricut Heat Guide. Then, apply gentle pressure using the evenly heated iron-on plate over your design for the specified time. When the timer goes off, carefully peel the carrier sheet while the design is still warm to avoid peeling or cracking.
At the moment, you can get this t-shirt printing machine on Amazon with a 38% discount for as little as $147. There's an option of purchasing bundles that come with the machine and other necessary materials. The Essentials Iron-On Bundle will set you back $149.99, and offers a set of tools and a variety of iron-on materials, along with the printing machine. Everything Iron-On Bundle is $219.99, and boasts an expanded set of tools, a pressing mat, a tote, iron-on materials, and more.
4. F2C 5-in-1 Pro Heat Press Machine
15” x 15”
manual heat press
- ⦿Versatile use
- ⦿One-year warranty
- ⦿360-degree rotation for high precision
- ⦿Clunky and a bit difficult to use
Dimensions of the printer: 20.7 x 18.2 x 11.3 inches
Weight: 38.8 lbs
F2C Technology is a reliable manufacturer of high-quality machines and tools. Its 5-in-1 Pro Heat Press Machine is among the most efficient ones on the market. It can be used for printing t-shirts, mugs, plates, as well as hats and caps. The printing shirt machine comes with a large size 15x15 inch heat press platen covered by Teflon that's non-stick and easy to clean.
F2C 5-in-1 Pro Heat also features full 360-degree rotation and a swing-away design that allows for easy placement of your garments. Even though it has a sturdy and industrial-grade metallic body, the machine is still lightweight and portable, so you can take it with you wherever you go.
This machine isn’t the easiest to use, but it comes with a detailed operating manual that will guide you through the process and lifelong online technical guidance and support. The first thing you'll need to do to start printing is to adjust the height and pressure according to the product's size. Then, you'll have to place the material on the working table and close the self-lock handle, which you don't need to hold during the press.
Once this professional t-shirt printing machine reaches the time you set, it will alert you with a sound and stop heating so that you can release the handle and take out the material. You can follow the whole heating process on an LED that shows the temperature, time, and alarm settings.
As there is a thickened silicone pad and sponge pad on the heat plate, the machine is suitable for even heating transfer on various materials. On top of that, there's an Upgrade Slide Out Drawer with 360-degree rotation that makes placing and removing your garments a breeze.
Moreover, the F2C 5-in-1 Pro Heat Press Machine offers a preset sublimation printing mode for a wide range of materials, including cotton, silk, fabric, polyester, glass, metal, plastic, and ceramic.
Finally, printing t-shirts at home with this machine will be safe and secure as it provides a protector button that will pop up when the voltage is unstable or too high. It is FCC & CE certified as well, which guarantees that the machine meets all safety standards.
The current price for the F2C 5-in-1 Pro Heat Press Machine on Amazon is $196.99, and it comes with a one-year warranty. You can also buy it in a bundle with all the materials you need to get started - A-SUB Sublimation Paper (11x17 inch, 110 sheets) and PTFE Teflon sheets (three-pack) for Heat Press Transfer for $236.97. This machine offers great value for money since it’s much more than a t-shirt printing machine, as it lets you print on mugs, plates, hats, and caps.
5. WLL-DP All in 1 Auto Open Professional Pneumatic Heat Press Machine
260 × 380 mm (10” x 15”)
auto pneumatic heat press
- ⦿3D sublimation technology
- ⦿Fully automatic operation
- ⦿Built-in vacuum pump
- ⦿Quite expensive
Dimensions of the printer: 24.4" × 17.1" × 18.1"
Weight: 31 kg (68 lbs)
The best t-shirt printing equipment and the most expensive product on our list, WLL-DP All in 1 Auto Open Professional Pneumatic Heat Press Machine is worth every penny. It is a top-of-the-line product that offers 3D sublimation technology for the highest quality prints. As such, the machine is perfect for businesses or individuals who are looking for the best possible print quality.
It enables printing on t-shirts, bottles, mugs, plates, phone cases, mouse pads, and more. When you order it, you will get a machine along with all the necessary accessories: mug clamps, mold, heat-resistant gloves, a silicon tube, and vacuum films.
WLL-DP All in 1 Auto Open Professional Pneumatic Heat Press Machine boasts fully automatic operation. It comes with an open drawer-out design and an auto-lifting board, so you won't need to waste time or energy on manually opening or closing the print shirt machine. The whole process is executed automatically and smoothly. Moreover, this machine is equipped with a built-in vacuum pump, which improves the sublimation heat transfer printing quality and efficiency, while the inflating pump ensures maximum pressure.
This robust t-shirt printer has a big LCD where you can check the temperature and time settings. The transfer size is 10” x 15”, which is large enough for most purposes. The machine itself is quite big and heavy (24.4" × 17.1" × 18.1", 68 lbs), but it is still portable enough to be transported from one place to another if necessary.
However, WLL-DP All in 1 Auto Open Professional Pneumatic Heat Press t-shirt printing machine isn’t cheap. It will cost you a steep $1,942.49, but it is still the best possible option on the market.
6. VEVOR 4 Color 2 Station Silk Screen Printing Machine
21.7” x 17.7”
- ⦿360° rotary design
- ⦿Adjustable spring device
- ⦿Large printing area
- ⦿Relatively difficult to assemble
Dimensions of the printer: 32.28 x 7.87 x 74.8 in
Weight: 81 lbs
Even though screen printing is a traditional method, it is still widely used today. Screen printing is a great technique for eCommerce businesses that want to showcase their brands with custom-designed t-shirts and other merchandise. We recommend VEVOR 4 Color 2 Station Silk Screen Printing machine for those who are looking for a high-quality yet affordable screen printing machine.
This t-shirt printing machine for small business needs has a large printing surface of 21.7” x 17.7” and can print on clothing (especially t-shirts), woven fabrics, metal, paper, copybooks, plastics, circuit boards, wood, glass, tiles, umbrellas, leather, and more.
This VEVOR Screen Printing machine is an excellent option for small businesses or individuals who need to print large quantities of t-shirts quickly and efficiently. It is particularly suitable for monochrome t-shirt screen printing. The machine is easy to operate and comes with two springs for better adjusting the tension and adapting to different weights. Its 360-degree independent rotation design enables you to print accurately and quickly.
Still, keep in mind that this VEVOR model isn’t the best t-shirt printer for inexperienced users as it’s relatively difficult to assemble even though it comes equipped with all the parts and tools necessary for the installation process. Once you have assembled it, the machine is quite easy to operate, even for those who have never used a screen printing machine before.
Simply choose a stencil, place your t-shirt on the pallet, pour the paint, and spread it evenly with a scraper. Then, you'll need to wait for the paint to dry before you can remove the stencil. The whole process is quick and easy, and you'll be able to print a large number of t-shirts in a short time.
Regarding this t-shirt printer machine cost, it can be purchased for $149.99 on Amazon, which is a good price considering its features and performance. We suggest adding the Speedball Fabric Screen Printing Ink Starter Set with six colors and a Dual Edge Aluminum Emulsion Scoop Coater at the total price of $198.93.
Top-Rated T-Shirt Printing Machines for 2022
HTVRONT Auto Heat Press Machine
VEVOR Heat Press 15 x 15
Cricut EasyPress 2
F2C 5-in-1 Pro Heat Press Machine
WLL-DP All in 1 Auto Open Professional Pneumatic Heat Press Machine
VEVOR 4 Color 2 Station Silk Screen Printing Machine
Our Methodology for Picking the Best T-Shirt Printing Machine
Learning how to start your own t-shirt business from scratch requires a bit of creativity, some business acumen, and, most importantly, the right tools of the trade. Here's a list of criteria we used to evaluate the top-rated t-shirt printers for your store:
Ease of Use
We selected machines that are easy to set up and use, even for those with no prior experience in printing, even though there's a possibility of on-site installation by a professional technician. As you're running a small business, you'll likely be the only one operating the printer, so it's important that it's user-friendly and not overly complicated.
The last thing you want is to be spending hours trying to figure out how to operate your apparel printing machine when you could be using that time for marketing and design. There are different types of t-shirt printers, such as heat press machines, screen printing machines, or DTG printer options. Depending on which technology you choose, the learning curve will be different.
Obviously, you want a machine that's going to produce high-quality prints - after all, that's what your customers are paying for. We looked at each machine’s print quality, taking into account the resolution, color replication, and overall finish. Clunky designs and poor print quality just won't cut it in today's market. High-quality prints with sharp detail and vibrant colors are what you should be aiming for.
Printing Speed and Quantity
Time is money, so you'll want a digital shirt printing machine that can churn out prints quickly. We checked the printing speeds of each machine, as well as the estimated time it takes to set up and load a design. The faster, the better - customers won't want to wait around forever for their custom t-shirt. On top of that, the quantity of prints that a machine can produce in an hour is also important to consider, especially if you're planning on accepting large orders.
If you're planning on doing any sort of heat transfer printing, then you'll need a machine that comes with temperature control features. This is important for ensuring that your prints come out looking sharp and without any defects. The very best t-shirt printing machines on our list come with some sort of heat control, but we did pay extra attention to those that offered more precise temperature regulation.
We prioritized those machines with a "smart" heating system - these models can automatically adjust the temperature according to the type of fabric you're using, which takes all the guesswork out of the equation. Also, a LED display shows the exact temperature, so you can always be sure that your prints will come out looking perfect.
We also looked at all the extra features that each machine offers, such as the ability to print on a variety of materials, including sweatshirts, banners, and blankets, or allow sublimation printing. Some of the best printing machines offer automatic cutting, which can save you a lot of time, and others come with built-in dryers so that your prints are ready to wear as soon as they come off the machine. These are all nice-to-haves that can make your life a lot easier, so we certainly took them into consideration when making our selections.
Price and Maintenance
We know that the budget is always a consideration when setting up a new business, so we looked for machines that offered the best value for money. We took into account the initial purchase price as well as the cost of consumables such as inks and replacement parts. You don't want to be spending a fortune on your machine, but at the same time, you don't want to sacrifice quality for the price.
The best t-shirt printing machine for a small business needs to be low-maintenance as well, so we also looked at the overall running costs. Before purchasing, it's essential to check the frequency of cleaning and servicing required, as well as the cost of replacement parts. While you can't avoid some maintenance costs, you can definitely minimize them by choosing a machine that's easy to keep in good condition.
Yes, it is perfectly safe to use a t-shirt printing machine at home as long as you follow the manufacturer's instructions. Make sure to read the manual carefully before you begin, and always keep it clean and well-maintained. The best shirt printing machine should have a reputable certification, such as FCC and CE, which can provide peace of mind. Also, if you're using a heat press machine, it should have heat control or cooling features to prevent accidental fires or come with heat-resistant gloves.
Depending on the type and model, a t-shirt printer can cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. The price will also depend on the features and the performance of the machine. For example, a high-end machine that's capable of printing large orders quickly will obviously cost more than a basic model. Our list contains models that cost from as little as a couple of hundred dollars to over a thousand, so you should be able to find one that fits your budget.
If you're just starting out with your small business, then a basic model should be sufficient. However, if you're planning to do a lot of printing or if you need to print on a variety of materials, then you'll need a more sophisticated machine. DTG printers and heat press machines are the easiest to use, whereas screen printing machines require a bit more experience.
It's also important to consider the cost of consumables, such as inks, sublimation papers, and replacement parts, as well as the frequency of maintenance required. Our list includes a variety of machines that are suitable for small businesses, so you should be able to find one that's perfect for your needs.