Why Can’t I Print Just One Shirt?

Screen Printing Quantity MinimumsIf you’ve wondered this, you’re not alone. We hear this question about screen printing minimums all the time at Threadbird. We dive into this and the reasons behind it in this post!

Think of an office. If you own a laser printer and a copy machine, and had to make a single print of something, you’d use the printer. But if you wanted 1000 of the same thing, you’d never use the printer, always the copier to get a faster and more cost-effective outcome. Screen printing is similar to this.

So when it comes to printing just one shirt, the simple answer is no, with time and money as the two main reasons. Screen printing is a mix of a manual and mechanical process that involves a lot of time to deliver the quality you deserve.

Setting up the screens takes the same amount of time for any order, whether you print 25 or 2500 shirts. In regards to cost, the base cost is averaged out over the number of shirts printed. So printing one shirt would be insanely expensive because of base fees. This is also why it often makes sense to print more shirts at once.

Our minimum is 24 shirts per design. This keeps it economically feasible for you so you don’t spend a fortune on a handful of garments.

Now, you’ve probably heard of companies that can print one shirt, but what they do is direct to garment(DTG). DTG prints directly onto the shirt instead of using a screen to run ink through. It’s like using a printer to paste ink onto a garment. These printers enable single orders, but this process is completely different than traditional screen printing. This quality and feel is much different than classic screen printing, and we know this tangible difference is why screen printing has stood the test of time.

  • threadbird ink color screen printing pantone

Why does the minimum shirt quantity increase if the ink colors increase?

We do not charge a screen fee for any orders! However, more colors means increasing materials and time, so the cost goes up. We recommend printing at least 50 shirts of any design. This helps keep your order cost-effective. When you increase your total quantity it allows the screen printer to eat up a lot of their overhead cost. This is why you get a much better price break when going with a larger quantity of tees!

Threadbird Screen Printing

What’s the deal with screens?

This is the basic screen printing process: One screen is used for each color to be printed. Screens must be lined up and printed on test sheets to ensure that all of the colors line up correctly. Inks are then pushed through the screens one color at a time onto the apparel. Finally, each piece is run through a large dryer to cure the inks.

What if I want a sample of the shirt before I decide to go big and place an order?

We understand that you want a tangible preview of what your garments look like before you order 500 of them. As you know, we can’t print one shirt as a test run, but don’t worry! This is why we have such a great mocks team and where our top notch customer service comes in. They create a mock-up of your order so you can get the best idea of what it will look like. You get a photo-realistic example of your shirts. These samples are so great that many of our clients use them on their websites!
Before your mock-up goes to print, we send you this image so you can look over it one last time. Then the print process begins!

You can see how many steps go into one order. Preparing the art, screens, and more takes time. We do it this way to ensure you receive the best quality prints. If you want to know more about screen printing minimums head here.

2 Responses to “Why Can’t I Print Just One Shirt?”

  1. Scot Symon

    Great articke, thanks! What do you do if a customer is missing an item from their order?

    Reply
    • Threadbird

      hey Scot! Great question. All orders can have up to 5% under run. Some shirts could be damaged during printing. Because of this, we cannot guarantee that you will receive 100% of the garments in your order. We strongly recommend ordering a few extras to account for this possibility. We always strive to give you everything you ordered, however, if there is a shortage with your order, we will refund or credit you for the difference.

      Reply

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