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Build your own t-shirt printing press

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Have a great idea for a t-shirt? Interested in customizing clothing or making your own prints? Here's how to make a press for making shirts similar to rubber stamping.

Any mention of this project or our high roller 1d20 shirt design must provide a link to www.betaart.com with credit to Kevin Dean and a link to www.zieak.com with credit to Ryan McFarland.

There are many other options for making shirts with great tutorials on this site about how to silk screen or make stencils. This stamping method has the benefit of being able to make more than one (a limitation of some stencil techniques). Also this style allows the use of multiple colors without waiting for a color to dry. You can have free-floating content (like the inside of an "O") which is difficult with some stencil techniques - and if you're just doing lettering the letters can be reused for another shirt design or another project entirely.
 
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Step 1: Tools and Materials

Table or flat surface you can bolt into
LCD desk mount arm
Scrap wood or counter top
Double stick foam tape
Foam
Scrap booking letters
Silk screening ink or specialized paint
Drill and bits
Screws
Hobby knife
Sharpie marker
Square, level, tape measure
Wood, acrylic, aluminum or cardboard to put inside the shirt
Cloth to print on
White lynx4 months ago
does the print remain after a wash
zieak (author)  White lynx4 months ago
Using enamel paint - it sure does!
I like this idea a lot - I made my own screen print to do a one-colour design, but apart from the satisfaction of building it, it was probably not worth it overall, whereas THIS makes it an absolute doddle, or doozy as them Yanks say. You have cheered me up, and for that, the t-shirt buying fans of my band salute you :)
callmeshane6 years ago
I just had a thort... a very productive thort..... In Straya, they have what is called the $2 shop - or the Reject shop... and they sell them rolls of camping mattress - made of the same foam.... usually about 1.8 meters by 0.6 meters... it's crap to sleep on.. but that's another story... There is a type of printing press that has a "rolling flat bed" and it goes under a rotating drum... The diameter of the drum and the surface speed of it, is linked on a 1:1 basis with the bed.... They are a manually operated device.... well the one I am thinking of is.... Thinking of a WWII soviet vintage kind of thing.... Anyway... stick foam on drum, paint, run T shirt through, recoat, run another shirt back through the other way....... etc. Or run roller across T shirt...????
Please explain what a "thort" is
"Thort" = Short Thought ? lol
Would you please tell us where Straya is, somewhere in eastern Europe , is it ?
It's a term for Australia, because of the distinctive accent.
perhaps you are thinking of a mimeograph machine...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimeograph
zieak (author)  callmeshane6 years ago
Nice idea - i may just have to give that a try. I was thinking of trying the camping mattress foam but all i have kicking around are the Therm-a-rest style.
GREAT !
Unmortal3 years ago
its a nice idee maybe this wil be my new building idea ^_^
gone print my own dragons on t-shirt maybe =)
thx for this posted instructabal its brings idea's
What are some silk screening inks?
zieak (author)  INVADER SCOOGE5 years ago
Speedball is a very common one.
Thanks and cool shirt. Is there any cheap foam easily available, and durable a 13 year could buy?
Foamboard should work. If not then you can buy huge pink sheets of foam at home depot/lowes/ace/any hardware construction store.
Googling eva foam that Eric mentioned, it turns out the foam exercise mats walmart, and others sell are made from that material. Garage and yard sale season is nearly here, so you should find something affordable. Use your local free cucle, craigslist or other free venues to find some.
A young lady created an instructable about, how she made an instructables robot doll. I doubt if the instructables management thought there was a copyright issue, they wouldn't have made her instructable available. I'm not an attorney, but I believe the problems would start, if you started making money from printing copyrighted material.
zieak (author)  INVADER SCOOGE5 years ago
Check your local thrift stores. I find this stuff at my local Salvation Army often.
DarienJ5 years ago
where do you get silk screening ink?
http://www.screenprintingsupplies.com/
http://www.silkscreeningsupplies.com/
zieak (author)  DarienJ5 years ago
Look in your yellow pages under "art supplies." That's the best place to start.
if i wanted to build this without the lcd arm what else could i use and how would i attach it/them?
Cool idea, I would do the Instructables Robot but that's copyright or whatever.. great job!
You can still do it, just be sure to put a copyright symbol somewhere.
NuclearDog 1up5 years ago
Uh, no you can't. Not legally anyways. The whole point behind copyright is that you can't copy something without the creator's permission. You're effectively saying "It's okay to copy that movie, just put a copyright symbol on it." or "It's okay to photocopy that painting, just put a copyright symbol on it." And it doesn't matter if you don't plan on selling it, that only comes into play when determining damages or fair use, and this is likely not fair use. With that in mind, if you got permission from Instructables, you could print yourself the shirt legally. Or, if it's just for yourself, go ahead and do it anyways. I doubt anyone will notice or care.
Yes. I understand that it is illegal but people won't care... Buuut What about the hundreds of thousands of instructable robot "instructables" Showing not only what you have done but how to do it So clearly if they don't care about them, go ahead, just show the finished product PLEASE
I've always been of the opinion that the morality of the action should take precedence over its legality, and in this case I can't see that there would be anything wrong with it. You are promoting the site, after all--creating a net gain on their part, theoretically. True, it would be better for the site if you paid for one of their shirts, but since the whole philosophy of the site is doing things yourself to save money and they promote creative commons licenses, I think it's morally acceptable
THey can, as long as they don't sell it for monetary gain...
Lance Mt.5 years ago
Love it! But instead of a LCD screen holder i'll use this meathod. http://www.instructables.com/id/Screen-Printing-Machine%3a-Print-Faux-co!/

But instead of gluing on to the wood i'll just glue onto a piece that i can slot in.
ewilhelm6 years ago
Nice tip on using EVA foam as a stamp.
Is this how you guys make your shirts?
zieak (author)  GorillazMiko5 years ago
No way - their shirts are made far better than this. This is a step below stenciling. I like some really primitive technologies though.
zieak (author)  ewilhelm6 years ago
I knew that stuff had a better name.
zstarski5 years ago
Great instructable. Really helped me out. Thanks.
rasta_bhoy6 years ago
nice. but i tried something similar to this on illustration board and it works like a charm. plus you get both the positives and negatives of the image.
i think the white on blue looks good kinda distresed you know? though i got to be careful when cutting last time i did it i ended up bleeding all over my school
zieak (author)  SuperCoPilot6 years ago
I just did one that is all white on a dark blue. It required a lot more paint but i really like the faded look that it has. You're right - it looks pre-distressed.
cubemonkey6 years ago
I'm am all about this instructable, I was looking for an easier way to print my own shirts, thank you so much!!!!!!
What is an LCD desk mount arm and where do I find one?
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