We have put together a top 5 best screen printing kits we like. After using them, we took our pros and cons and put together a comparison guide as well as our personal reviews of our favorite Screen printing press!
A while back, I bought my very first screen printing press. It was the ultimate press, with 4 rotating arms and the ability to use 4-colors. It was awesome and still is. But now I live in an apartment, and I wanted to find a smaller DIY Silk Screen kit. I still will use that 4-color press, but I need a one color , store under the bed kit.
I started searching the online forums and talking with friends. DIY screen printing supplies is where I found some potential keepers. So, two things interest me, printing shirts and posters. How can I do both? I didn’t realize how many choices I had out there, this is great!
So, we put together our reviews that we tested over the last year. We reviewed each press and tested them out. I hope our guide we put together will help make your decision for the screen printing kit you want.
DIY Print Shop for $99, by Ryonet
This is Ryonets $99 dollar DIY Silk Screen Kit. This is a perfect price point for if you’re just starting out printing. I would recommend this kit, if you’re not sure if screen printing is right for you and you want to try it as a hobby. Granted you could make your money back selling 4 t-shirts on etsy….This could be the kit for you.
The kit comes with: 1 Instructional DVD 8 Parchment Papers 5 Premium Rite Films 8.5 x11 1 Manual 10 Cleanup Cards 1 16×20 Wood Screen with 156 mesh 4 Disposable Gloves 2 Sprayer Tops for the two bottles included in the kit 1 screen emulsion stripper bottle 1 screen degreaser bottle 1 2oz screen adhesive bottle 1 yellow safe light bulb 1 uv bulb 1 8oz WP black ink 1 scrub pad 1 11” plastic scoop coater 1 2” clear screen tape-low adhesive 2 hinges 8 screws 1 10” durometer squeegee 1 pint of WBP emulsion
- DVD video
- 1-10″ squeegee
- Pitch Black Ink, water based
- 1- 16X20 156 mesh Silk Screen (reusable)
- Emulsion and removal chemicals
I want to point out right away that this kit does not come with a “press”. It does come with hinges to drill to a wood board to make one. ( This is the down side to the kit, however the PROS to this would be you could make it any size. Now I can have one for posters and one for T-shirts.) It can mount to just about any surface.
Silk screen press
DIY Shop Kit, by Ryonet
It is a nice upgrade to the DIY press for $99 by Ryonet. This kit does come with a great press. Overall this is a great press if you plan on making more than a few shirts here and there. This DIY kit also comes with everything you need to get started, except blank shirts. The tutorial guide is easy to follow and you will be up and printing in no time. Highly Recommended for a great Starter printing kit.
- Solid Steel and aluminum Printing Press
- Exposure Light
- Environmentally safe chemical
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
- Made in the USA!
A great kit, one small complaint is the platen is smaller than the screen. But easily adjustable and you could also upgrade and get different size platen in the future.
Speedball Ultimate Screen Printing Kit, by Speedball
Speedball has been selling this particular kit for years. Speedball was the pioneer of water-based screen printing nearly 40 years. For the price it has everything that you need to print on fabric, paper, cardboard ,wood and just about any ink receptive substrate. The ultimate kit comes with 2 different size screens.
A 8X10 and a 10X14. Also comes with 2 nine-inch squeegee. A nice thing they have is you can coat your screens with emulsion in broad daylight if you wanted. It does have to dry in a dark place though… 1 – 9 inch squeegee 1 – 4oz Process Cyan Acrylic Ink 1 – 4oz Process Magenta Acrylic Ink 1 – 4oz Process Yellow Acrylic Ink 1 – 4oz Black Acrylic Ink 1 – 4oz Red Acrylic Ink 1 – 4oz Screen Filler 1 – 4oz bottle of Drawing Fluid 1 – 4oz Diazo Photo Emulsion 1 – 4oz Diazo Photo Emulsion Remover 1 – 1/2 gram of Diazo sensitizer 1 – Paint Brush, Mixing Sticks – Tracing Paper – Instruction Booklet – 55 minute instructional DVD
- 2 Screens 8×10 and 10×14
- 2 squeegee
- Emulsion and Emulsion Remover
- Ink – CMYK
- Instructional DVD
I like this kit as a starter for someone who wants to print on paper, wood or fabric. I don’t like that it does not come with light source, but overall its not needed with their emulsion. I would probably recommend this kit to someone who is super new and doesn’t want big equipment and complicated instructions. OR as a gift.
Screen Printing Posters
I was very excited to try this one out. Printing posters has been a passion of mine and I’m super happy to see a Screen printing machine just for posters. A bigger platen is a feature right off the bat and it comes with a bigger squeegee and bigger screen to get you going! (Yes you can print T-shirts too)! Everything you need to print comes with this DIY GIg poster kit. Band posters, broadsides, advertisements and fine art can be printed from this kit. A solid steel sturdy press
- Rock-solid screen printing press
- GIG poster sized palette
- Eco-friendly ink
- Eco-friendly cleaners
- Stack of French Paper
Overall an awesome kit to print poster sized poster prints. Everything is slightly bigger than a t-shirt printing press. Bigger squeegee, bigger 230 mesh screen and bigger pallet.
Personal Screen Printer, by YUDU
I’ve seen this product name at Michaels art store in the past. To be honest, it just doesn’t look like your typical screen printer. It has a more plastic generic look to it. It does come with, printing machine, mesh screen, emulsion sheet, squeegee, t-shirt platen, platen adhesive sheet, ink-jet transparency, 2oz black ink.
- Easy-to-use control platen
- Instructional DVD
- Exposure unit
- Emulsion sheets ( Just attach to screen ) No chemicals
- 32×21 and 11 inches high.
Overall it’s an easy to use machine, even for first timers. It’s almost mess free, no chemicals or extra clean up and set-up, that can be a good thing. But you may end up getting emulsion anyway down the road. The DVD isn’t great and you may need to ask youtube for more information. I would not recommend this if you want to do detailed graphics or fine prints. If you are just making easy logos, it would be fine.
How to buy a Kit
Overall, these are exceptional silk screen kits. But you can always search for your own. Some of the things you should look for when searching for looking for a kit are the following:
- Printing Press
- Exposure Unit
- Ink and chemicals
- DVD Instructional Video
But in my opinion the most important 3 things I would look for are, price, quality and customer reviews.
A kit is a great way to get started printing. Keep in mind, you will eventually need to buy more screen printing supplies as you go through them. So a kit, is really about the equipment for me. A nice solid press, with some screens and squeegees is where you need to be looking.
When it comes to the printing press, look for a solid press, with a built-in platen. You can use this on a table top or build a separate table to use it on. I like the ability to store it in a closet and pull it out when needed, since I really don’t have that much space. Some kits only come with hinges, no press at all. That works too, but keep in mind you will need some carpentry skills and some extra wood to build a nice place to print.
I really liked the kit that came with the printing press and everything else you needed to start printing. That’s the one I went with and I have no regrets. You can read more about it here.
Out of the box was chemicals, like emulsion and emulsion remover. De-greaser which is necessary for the emulsion to stick to the screen and screen cleaner and re-claimers. This is a great almost tutorial of how and why those are needed in your print shop. Yes, you will be re-purchasing stuff like that in the future, but a great and necessary addition to any good kit.
Screen and squeegees are the other important pieces of the kit I look for. A good solid screen with about a 150 mesh count and 20×24 inch. And a squeegee that is about 10″ long and a sturdy grip.
Any good kit will supply you with ink. Black and white would be a great combo to get, but you might only get one color to start with. You might think you are getting a small amount of ink, but keep in mind, ink goes a long way when screen printing t-shirts. So, a good kit will supply you with enough ink for your first 25-50 t-shirts!
A light unit is necessary for exposing images onto the screen. Usually, it’s a halogen lamp you can pick up for $10 bucks at any hardware store. So, if your kit doesn’t come with one, you can pick one up for cheap. But, the kit I bought did come with light unit.
I keeped these in mind when searching for my silk screen kit. I read reviews on amazon and found overall satisfaction with reviews from people who bought the DIY screen printing kit. I’m happy with it and will need to order some new ink soon!
So, with all that information, what do you prefer? Which one was best for your needs? For me it came down to the kit and the overall good ratings I read online. Not to be confused with the most ratings, but the ones that I actually read and they all recommend.
So there’s my top 5 kits. Overall I can say, they are all decent kits, and they all have great qualities, it depends on what your needs are. I can say, that if you are in this as a hobby then stick to the $50-100 dollar range like the Speedball kit or the Yudu. If you’re like me and you want to make some money on etsy, ebay, or what ever, my pick would be the DIY shop Kit by Ryonet. Hands down this is the best silk screening kit i’ve used.
During this experiment I considered just making my own and buying the screen printing supplies piece by piece. But i don’t think that would be any easier and would be more of a headache. The DIY kit Ryonet has put together is EVERYTHING you need to start printing out of the box. Watch the DVD first! And then jump in, you’ll like the tutorials Ryonet has put together and you’ll find the process is super easy. Best of luck with your screen printing adventure!