Instructables
Picture of Build a 4 Color T-Shirt Printing Press
***12-31-09 NOTE: A few steps have changed on printingplans.com and will thus be different between here and there. For instance, the manufacturer of the Lazy Susans has changed their size, so the plans have been adjusted accordingly. At this point the plans have NOT been adjusted here.***

Due to the high cost of Four Color Printing Presses (for screen printed T-shirts), I decided if I wanted one of decent quality on my limited budget I'd have to make my own. But buying 4 pairs of standard clips for holding screens, or "jiffy hinges", was a big investment on its own (about $130!!!). So a friend and I created our own design and built this entire press for about the cost of those expensive hinges.

You can download a PDF of these plans at http://www.printingplans.com

Plan on a few days to finish the press as it is very involved. It is recommended to have a second person help out as several steps could use one person holding while the other person attaches.

A few notes before the main instructions: The sturdiness and precision of the press is important for the success of multi-color images, so its important to be as accurate as possible in your measurements. It is also recommended that you use wood glue at each joint in addition to screws so that the press is as stable as possible. You may also want to predrill holes before putting in the screws to avoid splitting of the wood (use a bit thats slightly smaller than the screw). This table is designed for a six foot tall person. To alter it for someone of a different height, adjust parts N and O accordingly.

Tools Youll Need:

Power Drill/Screwdriver
Wood and Metal Bits
Miter Saw
Table Saw or Circular Saw
Electric Sander
Workbench Vise or Drill Press
Yardstick/Measuring Tape
Pencil
Level
Square
Clamps
Wood Glue
Welding Glue (or tools/materials for welding)
Paper or Cardstock

 
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Amity126 days ago

hi frns i'm amit i'm an animator artist from India im really interested in screen printing ...i want to make this 4 color printing press at home can any one plz let me know what is the name of Tools to make it rotating..... and what wood i can yous for it .....plz help ...me frns

Progfellow (author)  Amity125 days ago

Hi there! You might want to check out the web site that has all of that info:

http://www.printingplans.com

bullseye123 made it!7 months ago

Hallo, Thank you for taking the time to put this into plans ( Must say working in the metric system it was no easy task finding some of the things and making it work ). I have now finished most of the plan. I just want to find out from you about the screen's themselfs. Are those custom build too ? Where can I find those measurements. Also just one thing regarding the Heating and printing. Do I screen my first color then remove the shirt and dry, or do I screen all the colors before I have to place the shirt in the oven for 1 min at 320 degree's ? Is there a way to build your own flash dryer ? Thank you.

20140304_155719.jpg20140304_155727.jpg
Progfellow (author)  bullseye1237 months ago

Hello! Well done- the press looks great! Sorry about the lack of metric measurements. I don't personally build my own screens as the slight amount of money saved is not worth the amount of time it takes. If you are printing multiple colors, you can't remove the shirt in between colors or you'll never get it realigned. Sometimes you don't even have to heat the ink in between colors. This is called "wet on wet" printing. Whether you can do this really depends on the design, so just use some old shirts for testing first. You can use a heat gun (like the kind to strip paint) to bring your ink to 180 degrees if you do need to dry the ink in between. 180 degrees is dry to the touch and is called a "soft cure". It can be printed on but will wash out if not brought to 320 degrees later. Also try and get a hold of a laser thermometer to make sure you are getting up to the desired temperature both for the soft curing and final curing. As for making your own flash dryer, my friend built one but didn't write down how. It's not easy!

Hi, Thank you for the reply, I will lookinto the Heatgun you mentioned. I am very close to my first print, can't wait to test it.

edged9 months ago

Thanks for the reply! Will try to use two layered turntables with other adjustments. Thanks again for this awesome plan. you rock! :)

edged9 months ago

Hello,

Great tutorial, I'm planning to do this one, except I was thinking of making it 4 colors and 4 stations. Do you have an available plan on this? wood works good for me.

Thanks

Progfellow (author)  edged9 months ago

Hello there. As I haven't done this personally, I can't give a lot of tips, but I know that several people have. It can be done, it just takes a little more forethought, work, and several extra parts. Good luck!

sebzapata9 months ago
If I wanted to make this a one arm press, could I replace piece F and the Lazy Susan with an extension of piece U going into the centre.
Am I right in thinking that this would still ensure that piece B is the same height as piece I?
I ask this because after looking around at screen printing press designs, yours seems to be the most thought out and most robust. However I only need to print the one colour.
Thanks
Progfellow (author)  sebzapata9 months ago

Hi! Yes, you've got the right idea. Thanks for the kind words!

Progfellow (author) 11 months ago
Well, it's possible. Some people have built their own versions with 4 colors and 4 stations. There would be a number of modifications to do, but I think it could be done. It would be a whole lot bigger, so get ready to expand the footprint by quite a bit so it's still sturdy. Good luck!
dgarner211 months ago
What are the chances on making a 8 to 10 color screen printer?
RedSynergy1 year ago
Hey I've built the four color press, but I'm having an issue getting the tension on the springs right. I haven't been able to get them set to hold down with a screen on without some sort of clamp to keep it in place. I'd like to fix this because it renders the springs useless using a clamping mechanism to keep the screen down. Thanks and I really appreciate you posting the plans it was a lot of fun :D
Progfellow (author)  RedSynergy1 year ago
So it doesn't stay down even with a screen in it? Can you loosen the turnbuckles a bit and still have the screen stay in the upright position? Springs with too much tension can cause the same problem. Are you're two guides (that hold the screen arm in position) tight enough? Another thing to check is if your small lag eye screws are twisted in enough. If they're too high then they'll pull the screen up too much. Let me know what you've tried and I can try to think of anything else. Thanks!
this is nice! I'm going to do it for my small adventure in printing t shirts, just one question, how do you center the image in the frame? I have some problems when I want to use more than 1 color :(
Progfellow (author)  hugocontreras2 years ago
Try putting the top color on first, and print it on a test shirt. Then use that print to align the rest of the screens. It takes some practice, but works well once you've got it figured out.
mugwedi12 years ago
i want to build a 4colour 4station machine using steel can one help with a plan?
Progfellow (author)  mugwedi12 years ago
I haven't built one out of steel. It actually works really well with wood, so I haven't tried. Good luck!
XaqFixx4 years ago
 Great press, great plans!  My wife was vending at a local art show (she designs, I print)  and got to talking to another screen printer, we both use this press, and are both making $$ with it.  
Progfellow (author)  XaqFixx4 years ago
That's so cool to hear- thanks for letting me know!
Very nicely put together. I see this press is available in kit form. Would this be available for shipment to South Africa and if so ay what cost?
Progfellow (author)  Devleigh4 years ago
Thank you so much! I can't ship the full kit out of the country because it would cost around $350 for shipping alone, but I can ship all the hardware and then you can just find the lumber locally. You can see the costs here: http://www.printingplans.com/hardware.html
Sorry if you have already went over this, but the turntable, is it 7x7x1, or 6x6x3/4?
It seems like this instructable and your site say 2 different things
Progfellow (author)  French t0ast4 years ago
Hi- The company that made the 7" ones changed them to 6", so I've had to alter the plans accordingly. This instructable was made before the change.
hi this looks very good, think I may have problems getting the hardware locally is there anywhere on line that will deliver to rep of Ireland thanks very much for the inspiration
Progfellow (author)  sidsideboard5 years ago
Hello- yes, you can order the parts directly from www.printingplans.com to the Rep. of Ireland. You'll see a link on the right side of the page, or here's the direct link: http://www.printingplans.com/hardware.html

Thanks and best of luck!
A good name5 years ago
Could I make one of these with just 1 arm?
Progfellow (author)  A good name5 years ago
You could, but I wouldn't recommend it. Mostly because you'd be doing a lot more than necessary. For instance, there'd be no reason to have the rotating top if you only have one arm. There are some plans for 1-color presses readily available on the net if you do a quick search.
Ah, I think I will do that... I'm not sure if I'd be able to get the money to do it though.
tsilvetti5 years ago
Hey there , I just completed my press , question is what size screens should I use? And does anyone know a good site for buying the good mesh material ? Thanks!!
Progfellow (author)  tsilvetti5 years ago
It was created with 20" x 24" in mind. Sorry, I haven't bought mesh online. Do you have the proper stretching equipment?
Hey there , no I do not have the proper stretching equipment , as far as I know I would jut stretch it myself. I have bought mesh fabric from Hobby Lobby , what do you use and any advice on actually building the frames? Thanks
Progfellow (author)  tsilvetti5 years ago
I haven't build any frames of my own so I can't give much advice. You may have some trouble getting the mesh tight enough and therefore have registration problems. However, if you are able to make a semi-deep groove in the center of the wood all along the back side of your screens, you can then use rope to push the screen into those grooves, and in so doing get a pretty tight screen.
haha, nevermind. i just had to read a little bit:]
how much would you say the entire press cost you??
Progfellow (author)  wompuscatgilly5 years ago
About $150.
lonerayven5 years ago
Big question. Maybe it's been answered before but exactly how many boards of what kind of wood and what size should I get to encompass all the wood cuts cheaply and easily? I mean someone who has had experience with this Instructable. Ex. like two N x N x N coated boards and 3 N x N x N presswood/plywood boards. Sorry I'm going out shopping for the stuff and unless I have to, maybe I can avoid the calculations before hand if some one else has. :-D If not, just tell me I'm lazy and I'll do it lol... Um also, an idea, if I wanted, could I corner cut those angled 2x4's on the frame and inset them to line up with the two vertical 2x4's and screw them into the inside of base and side of the frame? What are your thoughts on that. Or would the stability be shot? (Don't have much of a carpenter's logic) Oh and THANK YOU SO MUCH! This is going to help me get my printing ideas going!
Progfellow (author)  lonerayven5 years ago
Hi there. The only wood you need very much of are the 2 x 4's. I believe I mention on www.printingplans.com how many 8 foot lengths you'd need to cover it all. The rest of the wood you'd only need scraps if you can find them. Full sheets will be way more than enough. Not sure exactly what you mean about moving those 2 x 4's. Having them at an angle to create triangles is probably better for stability. Depends on what you mean, though. Triangles are always much stronger than only right angles. Best of luck!
Amir5 years ago
Excellent answer, thanks so much. I'll send you guys a picture when it's done.
Amir5 years ago
Guys, this is awesome. Hell, this is awesome squared. I love it. I've got my hands full with projects right now, but this one is coming up on my list. I'm trying to set up my attic as an art studio complete with home built screen printing press and my question is this... Can anyone tell me what the dimensions are of this thing when it's completed. I'm wondering if I'll be able to make it fit. Thanks, Amir
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