Printing Minimums: What Are They and Why Do They Exist?

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“Can I order just one shirt?”

Don’t worry, you’re not the first person to ask. This is an incredibly common question in the screen printing world. At Threadbird, the short answer is “no”. We have a minimum of 24 pieces on every order of up to 2 colors.

“But why? I don’t need 24 shirts.”

Great question. It all comes down to time. Screen Printing is a mechanical process that involves machines, manual labor and time. It takes the same amount of time to setup a job with 1 shirt as it does a job with 100 shirts. When the costs involved are averaged over 100 shirts, the order is affordable for the customer. But, when the same costs are averaged over 1 or 2 shirts, the order is no longer affordable.

At Threadbird, our minimum is 24 pieces per design because that is the lowest point at which your order is still economically feasible.

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“Makes sense. But I’ve seen places that will print just 1 shirt.”

Indeed you have. There are many places out there where you can have just 1 shirt printed. These places use a completely different printing process called Direct-to-Garment (DTG). DTG printing is digital printing. It’s like running your t-shirt through a color printer, rather than dyeing and painting each t-shirt.

“Why doesn’t Threadbird print Direct-to-Garment?”

Another great question. Quality has always been one of our highest priorities at Threadbird. And while DTG printing can meet peoples needs, it does not hold the same quality as traditional screen printing. Colors are not as vibrant and printing typically needs to be done on light colored garments.

“Are there any other factors that affect the minimum order amount?”

Yes, as we mentioned above, 24 pieces is the minimum for all orders of up to 2 ink colors. The following minimums are based on the # of ink colors in your design:

  • 3 Ink Colors – Requires a 36 piece minimum
  • 4-6 Ink Colors – Requires a 50 piece minimum
  • 7-10 Ink Colors – Requires a 100 piece minimum

And lastly, there are a few other situations where minimums are a little bit higher.

  • Tag Printing – Requires a 50 piece minimum
  • Sewing Hem Tags – Requires a 50 piece minimum

“Makes sense. I’m ready to place an order! Now what?”

If you have your order and design ready for us, you can start here. Our team of all-stars will help you figure out pricing and answer any other questions you may have along the way. You can also always shoot your questions to printing@threadbird.com.