If it’s well organised, a screen printing workshop needs very little space, an area measuring just 2 metres by 3 metres is enough. Here are some tips on how to design your screenprinting workshop to make the most of your available space.
- In this article:
- A screen printing workshop: always divided into two
- The 4 things you do in a screen printing workshop
- The 4 things you do in a screen printing workshop
- Screen printing: what you can do “remotely”
- An area measuring 6 square metres is sufficient for printing
- Useful idea: a screen printing workshop… on wheels!
In this article we set out everything you need to consider when setting up a workshop that’s capable of printing on small quantities of T-shirts, carrying out small runs for posters or leaflets, or that enables you to create a graphics studio and provide additional services to your regular customers.
Screen printing at home only requires a small space: a garage, a room in an apartment or an area in the graphics studio can be suitable for setting up your workshop. What’s important is to know exactly what you need, because space – never more than in this case – is valuable.
So, let’s take a look at how best to organise and position your equipment.
A screen printing workshop: always divided into two
- A screenprinting workshop should always be organized into two separate areas:
- one area should have all the equipment and devices necessary for preparing the design, such as computers and inkjet printers. It’s very important to keep your computer and inkjet printer separate from where you do the exposing and printing. These devices can easily be damaged if any water, emulsion or ink is spilled onto them. The area they’re located in must be very clean and tidy.
- the other area should have all the equipment for exposing the frame and carrying out the actual screen printing. In fact, the frame should be exposed in an area that’s dark or lit with a yellow light-safe bulb, because this is where light-sensitive emulsion will be used. However, if space is severely limited, you can just temporarily dim the light while exposing the frame, and then turn the light back on – or open the curtains – in order to carry on printing.
The 4 things you do in a screen printing workshop
- If we put all the screen printing steps in the order that they’re carried out, we find that the tasks conducted in a workshop can be boiled down to four:
- preparing the file with the designs you intend to print: requires an area that’s clean and tidy
- emulsifying and exposing frames: requires an area that’s lit with a light-safe or yellow bulb
- printing: requires an area that’s very well lit
- packaging up the printed items: there are no hard and fast rules here, we just recommend a space that’s free from obstacles and obstructions.
It’s important to keep this subdivision of tasks in mind, as it will be useful when organising the space.
Each activity requires its own tools and equipment. Are you unsure as to what you might need? Click here for an article that covers our starting kits and manual.
Screen printing: what you can do “remotely” – i.e. outside your screenprinting workshop
Not all of the screen printing steps need to be carried out within the same working environment. For example, the files can be prepared in a small office, or in a room that’s outside the workshop, and can be located separately from where you’ll be doing the printing.
Similarly, the frames could be emulsified in a basement, or a garage, so there’s no need to cover up any windows with curtains. The only thing you must bear in mind is that this place needs a system for disposing of – and recirculating – water, because the dirty water that’s generated in the process of exposing the frames cannot be disposed of in the sewage system.
Finally, the printing area can be bright and open, with no obligations in terms of lighting, as the frame has already been exposed. A good level of ventilation is advisable, but if you’re using the latest water-based or plastisol inks, a ventilation system isn’t actually required.
If you’re printing with solvent-based inks, an air outlet with a fan is mandatory, but these inks aren’t commonly used for basic screen printing activities.
An area measuring 6 square metres is sufficient for printing
Now, let’s focus on the printing phase. After years of observation, experimentation and planning, we’ve come to the conclusion that all the necessary screen printing equipment can be located in an area as small as 6 square metres.
- In particular, these are the items you need and they fit perfectly into 6 square metres:
- a 1-colour screen printing press
- a shelf for storing the frames
- a dryer for drying the t-shirts or posters after printing
- a shelf for storing inks and squeegees
- a heat press for drying plastisol ink (mandatory) or water-based ink (recommended)
Tip: setting up a small air conditioning unit can be a good idea, especially when printing with water-based inks in summer. The ink dries quickly in high temperatures and can clog up the screen’s mesh. The ideal temperature for screen-printing is 20 degrees.
Setting up a screenprinting workshop in the way that’s shown in this floor plan can, in reality, be an advantage rather than a limitation. It’ll force you to be very organised and tidy, to get rid of what you don’t need and to keep only the materials and accessories you really require.
Plus, a small space keeps movements to a minimum – think how far you have to walk inside a warehouse – and all your tools and equipment are immediately to hand.
Useful idea: a screen printing workshop… on wheels!
One thing that we’ve always found really useful in the CPL Fabbrika workshops, and that we now use all the time, are tables on wheels.
All of our racks, tables and some items of equipment are on castors and are easy to move, so we can probably say that the best way to organise a workshop is to make it flexible and variable, able to change according to your needs. This is even more important when space is at a premium. In particular, castors are essential for the workbench, where all the necessary accessories are placed during printing.
Keep in mind that the best workshop is the one that fits your printing needs and ways of doing things. So, use our advice and plans as a starting point. Then, use your own initiative to set up a workshop that works for you: not all spaces are the same and we all have different needs and ways of doing things.
- To conclude, here’s how we suggest setting up your screen printing workshop if you only have a small amount of space available:
- separate the space into two areas: for creating the designs and for printing
- remember that not everything needs to be done in the workshop, some things can be done elsewhere
- keep the tools and accessories to the minimum necessary
- put everything on wheels, it will be much easier to get organised and work.