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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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Hi, I am planning to make this ,and I am wondering if I can use it with all its arms down

Progfellow (author)  bsjxndnksoanznsma17 days ago

Hi- is it because you have limited vertical space? If so, you could very easily modify it so the arms don't go up so high. If all of the arms are completely down it won't turn very easily.

KennethR32 months ago
Hi ..do you have instructions for 6 color 6 press machines?

Thank you
Progfellow (author)  KennethR32 months ago

Sorry, I've just kept it simple and only use a 4 color, one station press myself.

RonniThomsen3 months ago

Hi!

I want to make this, but i can't buy regular 2x4's here in Denmark (Metric systems you know), do you have any tips in other sizes of Wood to use, and not ruin the build?

Progfellow (author)  RonniThomsen3 months ago

As long as the main arm that you put the shirt platen on is the same width as the screen arms, it should work fine.

BrandonC46 months ago

This plan is awesome. I plan on attempting to build this, but had one question. I have noticed that the screen sizes used are 20 x 24. I have some custom screens and the largest size I have is 23 x 28. I was wondering what steps would I need to take in order for the screens to not collide into each other when all are in the upright position.

Progfellow (author)  BrandonC43 months ago

Hi Brandon, sorry for the late reply. You can use large screens as is, but only two at a time and across from each other. To modify it to work with 3 or 4 larger screens you'd have to at least make the rotating top larger but probably make the whole thing wider and deeper as well. I haven't done it so this is just off of the top of my head.

Amity111 months 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)  Amity111 months 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!1 year 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.

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Progfellow (author)  bullseye1231 year 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.

edged1 year ago

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

edged1 year 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)  edged1 year 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!

sebzapata1 year 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)  sebzapata1 year ago

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

Progfellow (author) 1 year 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!
dgarner21 year ago
What are the chances on making a 8 to 10 color screen printer?
RedSynergy2 years 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)  RedSynergy2 years 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)  hugocontreras3 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.
mugwedi13 years ago
i want to build a 4colour 4station machine using steel can one help with a plan?
Progfellow (author)  mugwedi13 years ago
I haven't built one out of steel. It actually works really well with wood, so I haven't tried. Good luck!
XaqFixx5 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)  XaqFixx5 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)  Devleigh5 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 t0ast5 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)  sidsideboard6 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 name6 years ago
Could I make one of these with just 1 arm?
Progfellow (author)  A good name6 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.
tsilvetti6 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)  tsilvetti6 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
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