The advent of prints, merch, and the creative community through personalized merchandise has been steady. It has reached a certain point where the merchandising and printing companies can no longer meet the demand, and hence, personal tabletop printing machines have made a huge splash in the market, and their demand is at an all-time high.
The humble screen printing machine can sustain the entire small business, and this is the best time to invest in one, even if you are remotely interested in the field. Purchasing a robust and handy machine allows for a small-scale business, band merchandise, or even corporate handouts that are cheap and handy to produce. This convenience can liberate small businesses that depend on expensive printing partners to produce their products.
This comprehensive study shall compare and analyze a few common table printing machines today. We will also try to elucidate what exactly should be the features of a good screen printing machine.
What Makes A Good Screen Printing Machine?
Portability V Robustness
A good screen printing machine could be a small handy personal use machine or an industrial-grade printer that takes up a whole warehouse. While the personal use machine is handy, it will break down more often than an industrial-grade one, but it is a lot more portable, which is essential for small moving businesses.
You should choose a machine that gives you the best of both worlds, as it is sturdy and robust, prints in larger volumes, and can be moved around using vehicles if needed.
Ease Of Usage
The ergonomics and design of a machine should be intuitive. Even beginners do not have a lot of problems understanding the basics of the machine. They should be running it like a professional within a short learning curve.
It includes easy tutorials, application integration, and even intuitive and easy-to-understand manuals with the printer. You should also look for printers that adapt to your particular choice of printing style.
A printer should be low maintenance, or it will lead to more repair costs than profits from its products. A printer should be able to robustly maintain a long queue of print requests and manage to do it without mechanical fatigue.
Warranties And Durability
One should look for a printer company that offers a good warranty duration for repair, exchange, refund, etc. It shows that the manufacturers are comfortable with their product and are sure about its durability. A sturdy and durable printer would mean more return on investment for the printer, even after depreciation and inflation.
Many cheaper low-end printers have a low frequency of inkjets and other heating apparatus, leading to skewed and low-resolution prints. Many screen printing devices are available on online marketplaces at a very cheap price. Screen printers provide a professional and clean finish to your prints. Your priority should be choosing the best resolution within your budget.
Now that we are versed with the features a good screen printer must possess, let us look at this list of screen printers we have scoured the internet for and analyze their pros and cons.
Top 5 Screen Printing Machines 2022
MERCHMAKR is a leading brand in personal and professional screen printing solutions. It offers the easiest and most approachable way to start a career in printing and making your merch.
It is the best do-it-yourself machine on the market that’s super easy to set up and start using, so it gets a big plus on its ease of usability. The machine is sturdy and compact and can be moved around if needed. It can easily fit on top of a table and has raisable levers to adjust your workstation elevation if needed.
- It weighs 19.5 kilograms and can be moved around easily by two people.
- It features the HotSwap clamp, which can effortlessly switch your screen and adjust if needed with very minimal movement. It ensures your prints are never ruined. You will take some time to get used to the technology behind the clamp, but it is honestly the most beginner-friendly and intuitive design for screen adjustment clamps out of all the ones we’ve mentioned.
- Other features are a digital timer, a safety light that tells you if the machine is cool enough to touch, black and white ink chambers, a paint scooper, and a hydro dip emulsion remover.
- It also provides you with your first screens kit, ready to be printed immediately.
MERCHMAKR is best suited for printing t-shirts and other garments, but it can print on other softer surfaces, provided you use a lower temperature setting. Hence, MERCHMAKR is best suited for small, personal workshops for artists and people with a small merchandise or t-shirt business. You can also print for other people, as the quality and finish are superb. The consistency of ink is amazing and helps make some fresh and sleek designs that can be matte or glossy, depending on the paint used.
It is sturdy, robust, and can print long queues, and at the same time, it is surprisingly lightweight and portable. It is the easiest to use amongst all its competitors. It also provides a 6-month repair warranty and instructional DVDs to maximize your return on investment. Buying from MERCHMAKR is not just buying a printer; it is like buying the whole kit required to start your small printing business.
Although MERCHMAKR is not the most pocket-friendly option on this list, we recommend it as the best because its intuitive design makes it the most approachable and beginner-friendly screen printing machine. It can be the perfect tool to jump-start a small business from the comfort of your home.
It can last for a very long time without any maintenance and hence is a solid one-time investment for someone looking to get into printing. These t-shirts can fetch more than ink prices, and over time you can pay for your machine with its output, which is steady and consistent. There is only one screen, meaning you will need to use the different inkjet brush for working with different colors, switch it back, and vice versa, which may be inconvenient for an industrial process but helps boost artistic choice in the case of personal usage.
One can also experiment with MERCHMAKR, as it is the only screen printer that allows modification and customizability. The filters and screens may be custom-made and allow for numerous patterns that would not be possible on the base machine.
Keeping all these factors in mind, one could say MERCHMAKR is the best choice for a beginner looking to be eased into the small business arena, as it is not invasive and takes a fraction of the space of its competitors, it is a proper investment, as its quality is at par with industrial printers. It works for a long time with minimal maintenance.
The VEVOR screen printer is one of the oldest and most reliable screen printers. The company has been making printers for more than two decades, and hence one can rest assured that the quality of the printer will be up to the mark.
- It has a spring design on its printing board, meaning that you can elevate your workstation depending on your needs.
- It is made from high-grade steel, not aluminum, meaning the machine is heavy-duty and lasts for an extremely long time without much maintenance.
- It is on the larger side, as its weight is around 50kgs. It takes up a large space.
- It cannot be kept on a table, but the spring adjustment ensures it is always at working levels. The size of the board is larger, meaning that it can print on larger surfaces and take heavier queues.
- Unlike MERCHMAKR, VEVOR can print on various surfaces such as metal, glass, plastic, ceramic, and even leather because of its silkscreen and temperature adjustability. Because of VEVOR’s robustness and printing capacity, any flat surface can be printed on.
While there are disadvantages to portability that arise because of the larger weight, VEVOR is meant for a different purpose altogether. It is designed to handle semi-industrial printing loads, which can print hundreds if not more than 800 t-shirts in a single day. It is not recommended to overuse the machine, as it might overheat, but the VEVOR boasts such capacity. It can also print on larger fabrics, repetitive prints for clothes, or even customized towels and other bigger cloth.
The silkscreen is a large flat board, which can be covered with a heated clamp. The design is easy to navigate but needs some time to get used to the nuances of the procedure and get the optimal result. It has industrial-grade brass micro brushes, which ensure that ink is distributed efficiently and evenly, meaning that your ink economy will also improve with this device. Each brush can move independently, meaning you will not have to invest in stencil screens and waste your precious ink to get multiple colors onto your fabric. It can work as a tabletop or rotating printer, depending on your undertaken project. You can adjust your brush flow to decide the amount of ink you need to be putting into the inlets. You can adjust your silkscreen, courtesy of the spring-style elevators. All these ensure maximum productivity and incredibly fast speeds while printing. You have four screens, and each screen has its dedicated brush, meaning you can operate with four different colors at once.
The assembly may be confusing for someone just starting with printing but is easier than traditional printer setups, which are expensive and require several technicians. It can be easily done by you, as the VEVOR kit comes with an instructional manual on how to assemble it initially and how to use it to its maximum potential.
It is a very versatile, robust, and sturdy machine that requires little to no maintenance for a very long time. It is a bit of a pocket-pincher, but it can become your small business’s backbone. The machine’s size is big, meaning it is not extremely portable, but it can handle more loads and queues and thus, compensates for this problem.
It is easily the most affordable screen printer on the market that is still valued for its price. It is a one-color,one-screen and single brush jet pair screen printing machine, but it is perfect for hobbyists and other people looking to learn to print for artistic purposes.
You can support your small business with this machine, although its output is slower than the machines we have mentioned before.
- It comprises a full steel body with some plastic parts, yet it is the lightest and most portable product on the list.
- It takes up minimal space and can very easily be set up on a tabletop, meaning that it is not overly invasive and perfect for people who do not print for a living, but mostly as a hobby or to get some extra cash.
- It prints only on fabric, which can be a letdown for some people. The frame and clamp allow only one color to be worked with at a time, which can be a hassle. Apart from this, the printing quality at this price is extremely professional, and the finish on the designs is also excellent.
- It is ideal for printing simpler, monochrome designs at a faster rate.
- The machine can be moved around easily and is best suited for entrepreneurs who move around set kiosks at different locations for their printed products.
It is an investment because it can give you the initial experience of starting a small printing business, but managing large orders with a small machine like this is not feasible. On the other hand, a business model aimed at customization and small orders would be the perfect target audience for this machine.
It is not a whole kit with a seamless setup and transition to printing. The setup is tricky to perform and might need technical assistance if you have zero experience with such machines. It is the only con in a long list of pros. It can also be eliminated if you watch simple instructional videos available for free and vetted by the company that manufactures them.
The steel body is very durable and will last for two years without maintenance. You can easily earn back the machine’s worth as it is a cheaper machine. The quality of the board, brushes, and inkjet is still top class, and you can print high-quality industrial-grade clothing.
Printing quality ensures a steady stream of income. The small price tag means that more of your business investment can go into sourcing better dyes, a better quality of the fabric, and better locations to sell your handmade merch or printed product.
The screen is silken and smooth, although made from a synthetic material, unlike VEVOR or even MERCHMAKR. The tight price point means that there are some compromises with quality. Still, overall, it does not affect the print’s result and makes sure the machine is more approachable to hobbyists or people with micro-scale grassroots businesses.
While marketed for personal usage, the YUDU screen printer is a robust printer capable of handling industrial-level loads and very complex designs. As it is one of the oldest small-scale screen printers in the market and is one of the main reasons behind this sudden surge in DIY printing and print shops worldwide, you can be assured that YUDU printers are of premium quality, providing a high-quality printing experience. The YUDU was one of the first personal screen printers on the scene, starting sales around the beginning of the millennium, and is still one of the leaders with a large market share in the personal screen printing market, which means that YUDU provides quality printers for a fair price.
While the machine is light, it takes up more space than INTBUYING, a newer and smaller entrant in the personal screen printing market. YUDU was one of the smallest printers available at its inception, but over time as technology has progressed, it can now be classified as a bigger printer.
- While it takes more horizontal space, it can still be placed on a tabletop and is more portable than a VEVOR machine.
- YUDU provides people with the perfect blend of portable and non-invasive, with industry-strength printing capacities.
- YUDU can churn out upwards of 30 individual items an hour, and it can prepare even 50 items of clothing if they have simpler designs.
- It has a sturdy build, with polyvinyl trays for holding brushes and other scrapers. It comes with four trays, meaning that it can handle up to four colors at once.
- It even has adjustable brass inkjets and speed and temperature adjustments, making it versatile.
- YUDU can also print on almost any flat surface, provided it passes the temperature guideline. It can print on glass, ceramic, acrylic, nylon, polyester, polyester blends, and even pure 100% cotton.
- Its clamp has adjustable hinges, meaning that it can also accommodate bigger fabric sizes. Its base size perfectly fits a free-size t-shirt, and the setup is also simple.
- YUDU comes with its instructional manual, two screens for replacing, one full black and white ink cartridge, and a DVD with several designs. A beginner can approach to discover the machine’s full potential.
- Overall, YUDU is also pocket friendly for the value it holds.
As it is peak Japanese engineering, it can last up to 10 years without minimal maintenance and provide rapid returns on the initial investment. YUDU can print at an absurd speed for its smaller size, yet you will never see it falter in quality or consistency.
YUDU is the perfect choice for people with an issue for space but a need for a large-scale localized printing business. The machine is not heavy, meaning two or more YUDU machines can be moved around from place to place to comprise a pop-up shop or other business models many merchandise sellers adopt.
SHZOND Screen printers cover a niche of screen printing machines not seen in this list. It is best suited for do-it-yourself printing projects, but it works out for small businesses. It targets the artist niche, as it provides extreme customizability for color and design placement.
- It has two platens and silkscreens, which means it can handle two colors in one session
- It stabilizes your workplace and can adjust the platen in a 360-degree spread. It is made of wood, which makes it easier to handle.
- The entire machine weighs less than 25kgs, even with the extra plates.
- It is fairly easy to adjust and set up, targeting a hobbyist audience and amateur printing enthusiasts.
- It can also print on various surfaces, like wood, glass, or circuit boards. It has a patented squeegee technology, which controls the flow of ink.
- It does not have brass brushes, but the nylon brushes provide a steady stream of ink that prints at a very good quality, regardless of the loss in durability.
- The manufacturers also provide a lengthy warranty, depending on the machine, as they have three variants at different price points and one with a three-color and three board option.
Overall, SHZOND screen printing proves to be a nifty deal as it provides all the features of the high-end printers at a very affordable price. Like MERCHMAKR, it is very approachable for beginners and hobbyists and works as a good workstation for small businesses. Its portability and durability tradeoff is also extremely desirable for people whose machine usage is not strictly in the do-it-yourself territory or a full-blown small business. It is perfect for a company that prints regularly for different corporate events or a person who prints large volumes for short bursts.
Buying a personal screen printer might have seemed unapproachable to do in the past. Still, with the sudden increase in demand for screen printing at home, it now seems like a feasible investment, as the prices have been driven further by improvements in technology.
While this list makes a comparative analysis, it also highlights the pros and cons of different screen printers, as they are all of the different prices and are sometimes meant for different purposes.
Depending on your usage and budget, you should use this list as a starting point for your research and eventual purchase of your screen printing machine.