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Making something instead of buying is waste of time? Answered

While searching the Internet for someone that has made their own Hot Press for making WPC (wood plastic composite) boards, I stumbled upon a Tshirt forum.  A man had posted a topic about how to make his own Tshirt heat press for making Tshirt designs.  The other forum members all decided it was a waste of time.  He should not bother trying because it's complicated.  In the end he would spend way more, and he could buy a used or cheap heat press locally.

Is that not the ultimate irony?  People who post in a forum about making Tshirts tell another member that do-it-yourself is a bad idea.  Like buying a heat press to make your own Tshirts is a much better idea.  Do they all think they will be the one with that great design to put on a Tshirt and corner the elusive $100Billion Tshirt market?  Or do they just like to make their own Tshirts instead of buying one pre made.


1) Tshirts are a very saturated market. There are almost as many people trying to "make" shirts as there are consistently buying them.

2) Even people who "make" t-shirts don't really make them. Most of the time, they are just buying an existing t-shirt and printing on them. Since labour and distribution costs have already gone into the shirt, you've already lost a lot of markup.

Not really answering your question, but I don't know what your actual question is.

Exactly. When you decide you need a heat press to print Tshirts, then you are engaged in a hobby. Maybe you think you can turn that hobby into a business, but it's still a hobby. If you think someone should not bother trying to make their own heat press, then you should probably take your own advice and call VistaPrint or Staples to make your Tshirts for you.

No question, just an observation.

I can't agree with that.

No one makes everything they own or use; we all buy some stuff and make other things ourselves. So we all make choices here. Just because someone makes these choices differently from you, that doesn't mean they don't enjoy making stuff.

There's nothing wrong with making our own choices in a way that suits us. Where it goes wrong, in my view, is when we start judging others based on those choices, and telling them 'not to bother'.

Then again, it all depends on the reasoning. If it's really more expensive to make something than to buy it used, which is plausible in many cases, and if you don't seem to particularly enjoy the process of making that specific part of equipment, I, too, might be tempted to tell you not to bother.

Personally I like hand-stenciling T-shirts. Not in the hopes of making money, but for my own personal use and enjoyment. Am I equally interested in making a T-shirt press? Not really. Different crafts, different interests.

I run into this a lot with power inverters.

It can cost less to buy than to build, and I am talking parts, not the time to build.

Now when you can't buy or import, OK you have no choice but to build.

The only other reason to build is the Mount Everest syndrome, (To prove you can do it.)

It depends on things like skills, material costs, safety, stability and usability.
I could maybe build a t-shirt press for under 100$ from scrap, someone else might already all the parts in his junk box while the next guy does not even have acces to the right junk.

And speaking on a commercial level you have to factor in reliability and safety as well.
Noone cares if you burn your hand, but do it badly so you are unable to work and it can mean your home made stuff is extremely costly - especially if you end up in court for hraming yourself during on unsafe machinery you build without following the code.

you have to factor in how much is your time worth.

Google shopping has Tshirt hot presses for less than $450. Sure he could probably design and build something for a little less than $450 but in the long run would it be safe, durable and how much time is he wasting that he could be printing and selling shirts?

I think it depends on where you are focusing your creativity - are you making t-shirts, or t-shirt presses?

I could build a laser cutter, if I wanted, but I'd rather cut stuff with the laser I bought.

I could process ore into iron, and forge a steel blade, or I could slice some bread for my sandwich business.

There is a line that divides Makers from Muggles, but it's a vague and blurry one...

I don't think it is irony but more of people voicing their opinion based on experience. The t-shirts forums are probably filled with users trying to launch a t-shirt business and that demands better or professional tools to make a good sellable product. As a DIYer would be more inclined to make their own heat press for the satisfaction, it might not be suitable for long production runs. The whole DIY thing of 3D printers is to build and improve the printer but if you are in a business, you go buy one that has customer support.