Wondering where to start with screen printing machines as a beginner?
With any hobby, it can be really easy to do almost too much research at the start, leading to an almost ‘freeze’ in terms of your buying decisions on the types of gear, equipment or accessories that are the best for someone starting out.
Beginning in the wonderful world of screen printing is no exception, and I’ve put this guide together to help you not only find the better presses on the market for beginners, but to also give you a sense of why there are some machines out there that simply work better for beginners.
You can also find some of the more commonly asked questions related to screen printing at the bottom of this guide. They are not only common things I’ve heard asked by other printing enthusiasts in my circles, but many of them are ones I’d wish I had asked (and had the answers to) at the very start.
But first, let’s look at the overall selection.
The Top 10 Screen Printing Machines To Start With
1. Techtongda 1 Color Screen Printing Press Kit
This screen printing press is one of the best entry-level products for beginners looking to learn the process and start printing those single-color designs. While there is a lack of instructions with the Techtongda 1 Color Screen Printing Press, it is easy to operate and is perfect for single color T-shirt printing, whether it’s your hobby or business.
When printing, there are a few ways to adjust how your frame comes down and makes contact with the platen, helping you control the overall process. You can adjust the tension of the springs, keeping that top arm in the right position and ensuring your clamp comes down as you want. The platen itself can be adjusted, allowing you to move it forward and backward around five inches, making DIY pressing a doddle.
To accommodate larger or different style speedball frames you can set this up so the clamp doesn’t come down on the actual platen, meaning your frame is going to be completely flush with the surface. The platen is finished with an advanced melamine plate that is suitable for use with platen glue, allowing you to fix your cloth to the surface without worry. For a steady press, this machine comes with a bracket, allowing you to fix this in place to your workbench and keep your lovely designs printing in a consistent manner.
This press has a printing area of 22 x 18 inches, with the overall size expanding to 35 inches including the arm giving the press a total weight of around 7.5KG. The design of this particular press is rather simple, as you would expect, with the steel arms being a bright royal blue and the platen a plain white. The manual may not be the best but the Techtongda screen printing press comes with all the necessary tools to set this up, meaning you can start on those tees in no time at all.
- Great for making T-shirts for your family and friends
- This screen press is excellent for both business and hobby printing
- The adjustable platen can be moved backward and forwards five inches, meaning you can use larger frames if needed
- Adjustable clamp so you can get the frame exactly as you want it on your platen
- Dual springs stabilize the screen frame
- Suitable for use with platen glue
- Large 22 x 18 Inch printing area
- Simple to operate
- Lack of instructions, you need to figure this out for yourself
- Platen is made of fibreboard which could raise a few durability questions if you are rough with the product
2. Hat Champ Screen Printing Machine
The Hat Champ printing press is a great addition to any printer’s workstation, with incredibly easy operation and simplistic setup.
The hat champ is designed to fit on any screen printing press or direct to garment printer, meaning you won’t be needing any special screens or fittings to start using this elsewhere.
The hat champ printing press comes with interchangeable platens and uses thumb screws to help keep them secure, while simultaneously making them easy to interchange. This interchangeable design means you can keep on printing regardless of the style of hat you plan on using. This is great for printing on all types of caps and even visors, plus if you are planning on printing on seamed six-panel hats, the two foam pads on either side of the clamp can be removed.
Furthermore, one of the removable foam pads for the platen features a groove, making printing on a six-panel hat a much easier task.
The pull and lock system on the hat champ is very secure, giving you all the reassurance you need when creating multi-color prints. Due to this lock system, there is little need for any adhesive, making the whole experience much more user friendly. The entire hat champ is incredibly easy to use and while it lacks instructions, it is certainly a product you can get to grips with. Whether you are creating a hat for a friend or producing hats to order, the simplicity of this printing machine helps improve general production.
With the kit, you’ll be getting a 6 x 3.4-inch standard platen. The platen is extremely robust and will never move or falter. The brand is so confident of the quality on the hat champ, they offer a 100% money-back guarantee. The entire machine weighs around 3.5KG and features an all-red aesthetic, giving you a product that doesn’t just perform but looks great too.
- Very easy machine to operate
- Simple setup means you can get printing straight away
- Will improve your general production of hats
- Free shipping in the US
- Designed to fit on any screen printing press or direct to garment printer
- Comes with interchangeable platens, making this great for printing on all types of caps and even visors
- No need for adhesive thanks to the secure pull and lock system
- Thumbscrews keep interchanging platens simple
- No instructions for assembly or use
3. SPM Screen Printing Press
This one color one station screen printing press machine from SPM is perfect for beginners and experienced printers alike. This would be an ideal printing press for anyone looking to create some personalized t-shirts for their business or friends. The SPM Screen Printing Press isn’t just great for t-shirts but many other printing substrates too. That’s right, whether it is bags, pillowcases, woven fabric, or wood, this press has you covered.
This machine simply sits on top of any surface and evenly distributes the weight when you are going through the printing process, so there is no need for a bracket or further setup after assembly. This is particularly good for beginners who maybe don’t have a printing setup yet but in any case, it’s a flexible printing machine.
When it comes to the matter of printing, this works like any other, you can adjust this printing press in multiple ways to ensure you get the perfect end result. The special design of the springs means you can adjust the screen up and down and get the perfect clamp for when it is time to squeegee your ink. Aside from being able to adjust spring tension, you can adjust the clamp, which is suitable for frames up to 1.8 inches in thickness.
The platen is made from a hard and robust piece of wood with a glossy white coating. The platen itself is 21.7 x 17.7 inches in size and will accommodate some large printing substrates without too much fuss. The platen can be moved but you will have to loosen the screws underneath and adjust accordingly before securing it in place.
The SPM screen printing press is one of the heavier one color one station machines on this list, sitting at around 13.5 KG. The design, like all printing machines, is simplistic but still quite attractive to the eye. The all blue steel is finished nicely with some black plastic caps to keep the whole product looking neat and tidy on the desk.
- Can be operated at any station as there is no need to secure this down to your bench
- Simple to operate, great for beginners
- Spring design makes adjusting up and down much easier for the user
- Screen clamp can be moved up and down and is suitable for a screen frame within 1.8 inches
- Lifetime warranty
- Platen can be adjusted
- Lack of assembly instructions may make this a tricky task for some
- Platen could be easier to adjust
4. Techtondgda 4 Color 1 Station Screen Printing Machine
The Techtongda four-color printing press is a great machine to get you going with multi-color prints. This press features a single station and comes with a stand, meaning you can use this anywhere you desire and transport it without fuss.
This space-saving press is constructed of all steel and the stand offers great stability, ensuring quality and a consistent print. This is an upgrade on the older model, with this featuring micro-registration.
This makes the whole printing process much simpler for the user. With the older model, you would have to align the frame with your registration marks manually before securing it in place. With this, you can use the red knobs to alter the alignment of your frame without unclamping or touching the frame itself. Furthering the ease of use to this printing press, you can adjust the platen forwards and back by four inches If you are someone looking for precise color matching, this is going to be a great screen press for you.
If you are using a heavier frame, you can easily adjust the double springs to get the perfect clamp. The screen clamp, which moves up and down, is suitable for a frame thickness of 1.6 inches. This press combines the power of four individual screen presses into one mechanism, eliminating any worries you may have with your printing process. The clamps rotate into position and slide in between the rollers for a smooth print.
This machine uses an advanced electrostatic spraying process for the various parts. Each part is corrosion-resistant, will not fade, is very easy to clean, and should maintain its color and finish for quite some time. The platen is finished with an advanced melamine plate, which means you can use this with platen glue and easily fix your cloth to the surface. The platen on this printing press measures up similarly to the others above, with a length of 21.6 inches and a width of 17.7 inches.
- Uses micro-registration, making it much easier to align your prints during the process
- Four color press allows you to make multi-color prints in an easy and efficient manner
- Can easily adjust the clamps and springs for the perfect print
- Platen can also be easily adjusted and will move 4 inches front to back
- Quality all-steel construction makes this press extremely robust
- Advanced melamine used with the platen, making this suitable for platen glue
- Comes with a sturdy steel stand
- Could be quite a challenge for beginners to assemble
- Excellent features and functionality comes at extra cost
5. Vevor Screen Printing Press
Here we have a high-quality manual cylinder screen printing machine from Vevor. This is one of the best manual machines for cylindrical printing on the market and is constructed to the highest quality. The entire frame is made from a durable steel plate and its high-level design keeps the whole machine steady during the printing process.
The Vevor screen printing press is ideal for cylindrical and cone-shaped products such as bottles, cups, mugs, cosmetic containers, pens, fishing rods, and even baseballs! The features of this press will greatly improve the quality of your prints, regardless if you are a novice or experienced printer. The adjustable lift is very easy to operate and simplifies the overall process. When you combine the lift with the adjustable base, you can easily fix the product you are printing on in a suitable position, improving the efficiency of your printing.
This manual cylinder printing press is incredibly user friendly and features a comfortable, non-slip handle so there are fewer chances of mistakes during printing. Towards the back of the machine, there is room for what Vevor calls a “stowage plate”. This stowage plate gives you some room to store a few bits and bobs you may need during the print or of course a cup of coffee. The adjustable lift and the silk screen feature large hand screws, making precise adjustments easier than ever.
This press comes with a large printing size silk screen that is 7.9 inches in length with a width of 3.9 inches, making this ideal for slightly bigger cylindrical products. Despite looking rather bulky on first appearances, this press barely takes up much room at all and will easily fit into most workshops. The base is 20.9 x 18.5 inches and will fit on a bench no problem, with the max height of the press sitting at just 22.4 inches.
This press is of high quality, is user friendly, and great for a wide variety of applications
- Constructed with durable, high-quality materials
- Very user friendly and will greatly improve efficiency when printing
- Features a stowage plate, giving you a bit of space for the odd tool or cup of coffee
- The silk screen is 200 x 100mm, making this large printing size ideal for a variety of printing applications
- Can easily adjust the lift and case for the perfect cylindrical print
- The lift and silk screen features large hand screws for easy adjustment
- Lack of assembly instructions
- Lack of operation instructions
6. 4-2 Screen Printing Press Starter Kit
This 4 color 2 station printing press is perfect for anyone looking to start single and multi-color printing. This kit comes with everything you’ll need from the press itself to the squeegees, frames, and well everything else you can think of!
The original model of this press has been upgraded to feature micro registration. Thanks to the micro-adjust, this press is perfect for color matching as you can use the four small red knobs to assist you with adjusting the frame left and right. There are also four more red knobs, allowing you to easily adjust the frame forwards and backward, giving you extra precision during the process.
The frames rotate 360 degrees, so you can focus on multicolor prints without fuss. The platens can be adjusted back and forth by around 10cm, with the easy to use hand screws. As you would imagine from a machine of this quality, you can adjust the frame clamp to accommodate larger substrates. Finally, you can ensure you get the best up and down tension from your frame clamp by making use of the twistable springs. All in all, this machine provides you with enough adjustment options to be precise with your printing method.
This press is suitable for a tabletop and its combination design with the clamps and dual platens makes this a real space saver. Additionally, the 22 x 18-inch platen is coated in a melamine plate, making this suitable for platen glue when you fix your cloth to the surface.
As mentioned, this is a starter kit and it packs everything you are going to need in one package. Aside from the machine, you will be getting two squeegees, two frames, A4 transparent film, ink spatulas, two bottles of white paste, two bottles of transparent base, aluminum foil tape, a water gun, a scoop coaster, photographic emulsion, remover powder, pallet adhesive, adhesive scraper, a bottle of ghost cream, two clean up cards, and two t-shirts for testing. Just in case that wasn’t enough you will also get black, blue, green, scarlet, and yellow pigment thrown in too!
- Easy to use 4 color 2 station machine is great for multi-color printing
- Features micro-registration for precise adjustments during the printing process
- The starter kit comes with everything you are going to need to get printing straight away
- Excellent levels of adjustment will enhance your printing efficiency.
- Convenient tabletop design, with 360-degree rotational frames
- This product is suitable for platen glue thanks to the advanced melamine
- The included pigment is non-toxic and water-based
- Bundle doesn’t include an exposure unit
- Could be tricky for a beginner to assemble
7. Ving 4 Color 1 Station Printing Press Machine
This manual silk 4 color 1 station press from Ving offers incredible value for anyone looking to start producing multi-color prints. This is perfect for hobbyists or businesses that operate out of small areas, whether you are printing to order or just getting creative. This machine is really simple to operate and great for beginners and experienced printers alike, with durable materials coming together to create an all-round robust press.
This printing press is a table type and does not require being fixed into a position, so no need for a bracket or extra set up time. In order to be stable while operating, this comes with a stand that distributes the weight evenly and keeps everything steady during printing. This design saves a lot of space and makes the press quite versatile while also being easier to transport. The main feature of this 4 color 1 station, is its 360-degree rotating screen layer.
The four arms rotate independently from the base, making the whole printing process simple and generally improving your efficiency. Towards the platen, we see the companies double blocking system, which helps hold the arm in a controlled manner and goes a long way to making sure your prints come out precise.
With this machine, there are plenty of adjustment options to keep even the most seasoned of printers happy. The tension of the screen layer arms can be easily adjusted by the double springs on either side. This adjustment is great when using slightly heavier frames, ensuring you get the perfect print no matter what. Furthermore, unlike other printing press machines on the market, this makes use of large hand screws to make your life easier when making adjustments to the clamp.
The all-metal construction has incorporated advanced electrostatic spraying and electroplating to keep everything durable, easy to clean, and maintenance-free. If that wasn’t enough, Ving has also thrown in a squeegee, full installation tools, and two t-shirts for testing to get you on the way to printing your designs. Overall, a superb DIY printing press.
- This machine offers great value, simple operation, and excellent durability
- Perfect for the tabletop, saving space and easier for transportation
- Stand keeps the weight evenly distributed
- 360-degree rotation screen layer makes the process much easier and will improve the printing efficiency
- Great adjustment options and features hand screws to make your life easier
- Comes with a squeegee, two t-shirts, and installation tools
- Could be trickier to assemble than others for beginners
- Uses manual registration
8. Shzond 1 Color 1 Station Printing Press
This 1 color 1 station machine from Shzond is the perfect way to get your single color printing off to a flying start. This is an excellent option for beginners, with its easy assembly and simple operation. Whether you are looking to create snazzy t-shirts for yourself, friends, or clients, this is a great product to start learning your trade.
The Shzond silk screen press features a sturdy two-legged base that will remain sturdy throughout the printing process. There is no need for a specialized bench or bracket with this machine, you can simply assemble it and being printing. The screen clamp features thick hand screws to easily adjust for different sized frames up to 1.8 inches thick. You can also adjust the double springs responsible for the arm tension during printing.
To adjust the tension you simply twist the lower part to the spring and ensure you get a consistent print throughout your use. The platen can be adjusted back and forward to help you if you have a particularly large frame, furthermore, the platen can be completely removed, making this even easier to transport if needed.
The included platen is made for a very robust piece of high-density fibreboard. This board is very durable and should last for quite some time. The platen features a glossy white coating and measures at 21.7 x 17.77 inches, accommodating for large printing substrates without worry. The Shzond press has quite a bit of heft to it for a 1 color 1 station machine, weighing in at around 14.5KG. Despite its weight, its a massive space saver and feels rather compact on the desk, with it also being really easy to transport.
While the assembly instructions could be a little clearer, the Shzond printing press a brilliant place to kit start your printing. Whether its t-shirts circuit boards or woven fabric, this machine will see you through.
- Excellent starter unit, very easy to assemble and even easier to operate
- Good value
- The base provides decent stability throughout the printing process
- Great for t-shirts but also other plain substrates like wood, metal, and plastic
- Screen clamp can be adjusted to accommodate frames up to 1.8 inches thick
- Space-saving unit makes this ideal for small operating areas
- Platen can be adjusted back and forward or removed entirely with ease
- Large hand screws make this much easier to use
- Assembly instructions could be better
- Quite heavy for this type of unit
9. Techtongda 6 Color 6 Station Full Set Printing Press
The Techtongda 6 color 6 station press is one of the best multicolor machines on the market. Not only is this press ideal for business projects, but the kit also comes with everything you are going to need to produce high-quality prints. Whether this is to be used by one person or multiple, the end results are going to be of the highest quality.
The rotary screen layer combines with excellent adjustment options for precise color matching. What makes this press stand out is the fact the screen layer and platen layer can both move 360-degrees independently, for impressive versatility and unrivaled printing efficiency. In terms of adjustment options, the base can be adjusted up and down very easily, helping you get this at an optimal height for printing.
This press also makes use of micro registration adjustments for the frames with small red thumbscrews. These screws will allow you to make small adjustments to your equipment without the need to manually align it by eye alone. This extra precision will assist you with printing consistent products in an efficient manner.
As you would expect from a machine of this caliber, you can adjust the spring tension on all six arms, making printing a doodle, regardless of the frame weight. This level of precision with the spring tension will also prevent your squeegees from expelling ink or screens from loosening.
This kit offers the full set and gives you everything you will need with your day to day printing. This Techtongda press comes with a 1800W flash dryer that can be wheeled over the platen for a quick-dry during the printing process. To further assist you with drying, you will also get a screen drying cabinet that can store up to four frames at any one time.
You will also get a UV exposure unit, hand screen stretcher, and washout tank with a water gun for easy cleanup. Finally, you will get all the other printing amenities such as photosensitive emulsion, scoop coaters, transparency film, blackening agents, frames, foil tape, pallet adhesive, spatulas, squeegees, and eight bottles of ink.
This full printing kit is sublime and just what is needed to get your small business thriving.
- The full kit comes with everything you could possibly need to get started
- Uses micro registration for precise adjustments and accurate end results
- Screen layer and platen layer rotate 360-degrees independently for an extreme efficiency
- The stand can be easily adjusted to get this to the perfect height
- Comes with a flash dryer and drying cabinet to get your prints set in no time at all
- Comes with six squeegees, six frames, and a UV exposure unit
- Very heavy and will need a decent amount of room for this to operate properly
- For experienced printers
- Lacks of instructions
10. 4 Color 1 Station Printing Machine Kit
This 4 color 1 station printing kit is perfect for beginners and experienced printers alike, with it featuring everything you will need to get started. This press combines simple operation with high-quality materials to bring you an altogether superb bit of machinery. This unit is ideal for printing enthusiasts or small business owners who love to do precise color matching.
The main feature of this press is its 360-degree rotating screen layer, greatly improving the printing efficiency. The screen layer features four arms that all make use of micro-registration.
Using the small thumbscrews dotted around each individual arm, you can make minute adjustments to your alignments, without the need to take anything out of the clamp. You can also easily adjust the tension of the screen layer arms by rotating the double springs. This adjustment will come in handy if you are ever using a heavier frame, ensuring you always get a consistent print.
This press features very easy to grip thumb and hand screws all over, generally making your life a lot easier when you need to adjust the various parts. This type of machine will need to be secured to your workbench via the bracket but doesn’t take up too much room.
Impressively this kit comes with multiple units and all the other bits and bobs you are going to need to start printing immediately. This press features a 1800W flash dryer and a drying cabinet that can fit four frames, giving you everything you need to set your designs.
The flash dryer operates on wheels and can be easily dragged over the platen for quick, efficient drying. A UV LED exposure unit and hand screen stretcher also come included, as well as a washout tank and water gun.
Along with these various units, you get all the materials and extras that are essential to get you printing. Included with the set are emulsion scoop coaters, A3 and A4 transparent film, screen fabric, eight frames, screen frame adhesive, photographic emulsion, eight squeegees, and loads of bottles of ink and pigment.
If you are looking to take your printing to the next level, dive in headfirst with this superb full printing kit.
- This full kit is perfect for enthusiasts and hobbyists alike, with simple operation and everything you need to get started
- Great kit for precise color matching
- Easy to set up
- Screen layer can rotate independently 360-degrees
- Uses micro registration for precise adjustments
- The arm tension can be easily adjusted, accommodating for heavier frames
- Thumb and hand screws make this very user-friendly
- Ships with flash dryer, drying cabinet, and UV exposure unit
- Comes with four bottles of ink and four bottles of pigment
- Only one station
Frequently Asked Questions
Is screen printing expensive?
Naturally, any process that requires extra steps in the form of chemical additions and added tools is going to be more expensive than a digital option. However, screen printing also has multiple benefits such as quality and durability, which massively outweigh the different in price to digital options.
Is screen printing better than using a heat press machine?
If you’re using a heat press for t-shirts, then chances are you’ve opted for the heat press because you’ll be doing designs in bulk. There is, naturally, a trade-off in terms of quality when doing any pressing process in bulk.
The difference here is that a screen printing method provides a higher quality, however there is less wiggle room in terms of creative control.
Hopefully this guide has not only shown you the reasons behind taking the time to find the type of screen printing machine that is right for you, but also why you would consider screen printing above alternative options in the first place.
If you liked this guide, be sure to check out related advice for beginners such as the guide to rosin pressing and the best small heat press machines for people just looking to get started but may be stuck for space.