Exposure Unit

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What is the cost, manpower, and resources required to start a screen printing operation? (Medium Scale)?

Our company sells many products that can be screen printed. We already do embroidering w/an in-house embroidery setup, but we'd like to bring in screen printing equipment as well to fill those types of orders. How many extra staff members, machines and cost are associated with starting a new operation?

Alot of it depends on quantity of product you want to screen print, and how much room you have in your shop.
A small beginner operation would need at least a 4 color manual press (6 or 8 color is preferable though), a flash dryer for the press, a range of inks (best to get a mixing package so you can match pantones etc), A small belt dryer for curing, an exposure unit for the screens, the screens themselves (a range from low mesh of 72 up to 300 depending on the styles of prints you will be doing), emulsion and emulsion applicators, squeegees, and the ability to output separations to film. You will also need a reclaimation room (spray guns, bath for screens, racks for screen drying which also needs to be light blocking, varsol tank) Just a few things hehe
You can really run this as a oneman operation if you are doing very little.
If you are planning on doing more production (enough to make a living), you will need much more.
At least a couple manual presses with many colors. An Automatic press (as many colors as you can afford and will fit in the space). If you are running an auto, ideally you would want one person loading, one unloading, and one stacking at the end of the dryer. You should also have different people for screen reclaimation, burning, printing, stacking etc. I would recommend 5 people minimum for a serious operation. Obviously if you ran more autos - our shop runs 4 - you will need many more people and alot more room. We have 14 color presses, 12's, and 8's. All of which take up lots of room. We also have different manual presses for hats, bags, etc. You will also need bigger belt dryers in this case due to the speed of the output on the presses.
Best thing to do is figure out your budget and what level of production you want, and to go from there.
Also, some people outsource films, screen cleaning etc as well if you dont want the equipment - but of course this will be more expensive in the long run.
Startup costs can be anywhere from $10,000 to $500,000 in total.
btw, there is alot of used equipment out there if you are just looking for a little manual garage operation.

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