Best Printer for Screen Printing Transparencies in 2022

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Sep 07, 2022 •  Guides

Screen printing is not the easiest craft. But I think it’s doable and fun, and you can end up with such amazing results (and, potentially, such beautiful, unique, and incredibly sellable products) that it is well worth the time and effort!

So let’s look at which screen printing printer you should get to print on transparencies and support you in your craft!

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Top 4 Printers for Screen Printing Compared

Here is a quick summary of my favorite printers for transparencies. There are more picks in the overview below.

My Pick
Budget Pick
Value Pick
Art Studio Pick
Description:

My Pick for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl and Transfer paper

8-color dye-based ink system :: 4800×2400 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 11.8mil (0.3mm); manual feed 23.6mil (0.6mm) :: Late 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Description:

Budget Pick for Art Prints, Cardstock, Canvas, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

6-color dye-based ink system :: 5760×1450 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 23mil (0.6mm) manually :: Late 2017 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Description:

Value Pick for Vinyl, Transfer paper and Transparencies

5-color hybrid dye- and pigment-based ink system :: 9600×2400 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Supports transparencies and vinyl stickers :: Max paper thickness: 6mil (0.15mm) :: Early 2014 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Description:

Art Studio Pick for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

10-color pigment-based ink system :: 5760×1440 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13″×19″ (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: 50mil (1.3mm) :: Integrated roll feed :: Early 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Wider version: SureColor P900 17″ Inkjet Color Printer

My Pick
Description:

My Pick for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl and Transfer paper

8-color dye-based ink system :: 4800×2400 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 11.8mil (0.3mm); manual feed 23.6mil (0.6mm) :: Late 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Budget Pick
Description:

Budget Pick for Art Prints, Cardstock, Canvas, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

6-color dye-based ink system :: 5760×1450 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 23mil (0.6mm) manually :: Late 2017 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Value Pick
Description:

Value Pick for Vinyl, Transfer paper and Transparencies

5-color hybrid dye- and pigment-based ink system :: 9600×2400 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Supports transparencies and vinyl stickers :: Max paper thickness: 6mil (0.15mm) :: Early 2014 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Art Studio Pick
Description:

Art Studio Pick for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

10-color pigment-based ink system :: 5760×1440 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13″×19″ (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: 50mil (1.3mm) :: Integrated roll feed :: Early 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Wider version: SureColor P900 17″ Inkjet Color Printer

Table of Contents

Overview: Best Printers for Screen Printing Transparencies in 2022

My Pick: Canon Pixma PRO-200

My Pick
Canon Pixma PRO-200 13″ Inkjet Color Printer

My Pick for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl and Transfer paper

8-color dye-based ink system :: 4800×2400 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 11.8mil (0.3mm); manual feed 23.6mil (0.6mm) :: Late 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Get it on Amazon

For the first pick in my guide for the best printers for screen printing transparencies we go to the wonderful Canon Pixma line, this time the legendary Pixma PRO-200 professional color inkjet printer.

It may seem strange that this more expensive printer has lower specifications than other recommendations on my list. In practice, the PRO-200 will make sharper, more detailed, and more accurate prints than any of the already excellent printers below.

The high-grade mechanical construction, which moves transparencies, or any paper, as well as print heads, with such precision, ensures that anything from simple silhouettes to the most complex drawings or paintings comes out with unparalleled sharpness and clarity.

The print heads themselves are brilliantly engineered and well made to offer this superior performance reliably and repeatedly over the long term.

And although you may be only printing in a single color for your screen printing designs, you can rest assured that the Pixma PRO-200 has stunning, professional quality color reproduction, with a full 8-color ink system, which provides essentially archival quality prints of any commercial or fine art pieces up to 13 by 19 inches.

Yes, this is perhaps more printer than you will ever need for screen printing transparencies. Yet, the Canon Pixma PRO-200 is still an easy choice for the best professional printer for screen printing.

When you experience startlingly crisp and precise images, you will understand why.

Specifications of Canon Pixma PRO-200

Budget Pick: Epson Expression XP-15000

Budget Pick
Epson Expression XP-15000 13″ Inkjet Color Printer

Budget Pick for Art Prints, Cardstock, Canvas, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

6-color dye-based ink system :: 5760×1450 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: rear feed 23mil (0.6mm) manually :: Late 2017 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Get it on Amazon

The Epson Expression HD XP 15000 is probably the printer I often recommend and is certainly an easy recommendation for screen printing transparencies and silk screening.

It will give you extraordinarily sharp and clean images. It will handle transparency paper with the same precision as any other paper, up to heavy card stock.

A tough, reliable, and extremely well-made printer, with superior material quality and engineering, the Epson HD XP 15000 can use paper up to 13 inches wide and make borderless prints up to 13 x 19.

The superb Claria 6-ink system provides beautiful and long-lasting colors, and the resolution is incredible – a full 5760 x 1440 DPI – for noticeably sharper prints and amazing fine detail.

The XP-15000 gets my strong recommendation as the best budget printer for silk screen and transparency printing – a truly high-end printer for a moderate price and amazing value!

Specifications of Epson Expression HD XP-15000

Value Pick: Canon Pixma iX6820

Value Pick
Canon Pixma iX6820 13″ Color Inkjet Printer

Value Pick for Vinyl, Transfer paper and Transparencies

5-color hybrid dye- and pigment-based ink system :: 9600×2400 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13×19 (A3+) :: Supports transparencies and vinyl stickers :: Max paper thickness: 6mil (0.15mm) :: Early 2014 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Get it on Amazon

You can get a printer that will do quite a bit less for a bit more money – the Canon Pixma IX6820.

Huh? No, that’s a good thing! This lovely Canon Pixma focuses only on printing and does it brilliantly.

Whether you are screen printing transparencies or any other paper or stock, the colors, resolution and detail, range of light, and energy are unrivaled at this price. And it is a wide-format printer with a maximum page size of 13 by 19 inches.

Needless to say, it will print simple silk screen images beautifully.

If you want the best printer for silk screening, the best printer for screen printing transparencies, and also the best budget printer for art prints, photos, crafting, or any type of printing, and for an incredible price, the Canon Pixma IX6820 wireless printer is a great choice and warmly recommended!

Specifications of Canon Pixma iX6820

All-in-one Pick: Brother MFC-J497DW

Budget Pick
Brother MFC-J497DW Inkjet Multifunction Printer

Budget Pick for Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

4-color dye-based ink system :: 1200×600 DPI :: Prints up to 8.5×14 (A4) :: Supports vinyl stickers :: Mid 2018 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Get it on Amazon

My favorite all-in-one budget printer recommendation, the Brother MFC-J497DW, may not have the catchiest name, but it is a super-impressive printer for very little money.

Great resolution ensures that screen printing graphics come out clean and clear, and a 4-color ink cartridges system makes any art print or craft project pop, with vivid, well-saturated colors and great range.

And not only does the Brother MFC-J497DW work well with transparency paper, but it will also work with pretty much any medium, even up to heavy card stock – a crafter’s dream!

The MFC-J497DW is a multi-purpose printer, which means you can use it for copying and scanning as well, with superb results, and it is designed to be as easy to use as possible, with its great LCD user interface panel, wireless, cloud, and USB connectivity.

The Brother MFC-JD497DW is also one of the best values today and, for almost no money, will provide any artist or artisan much more than you could possibly dream of – for screen printing and about a million other things!

Specifications of Brother MFC-J497DW

Art Studio Pick: Epson SureColor P700

My Pick
Epson SureColor P700 13″ Inkjet Color Printer

My Pick for Art Prints, Canvas, Cardstock, Stickers, Vinyl, and Transfer paper

10-color pigment-based ink system :: 5760×1440 DPI :: Borderless prints up to 13″×19″ (A3+) :: Max paper thickness: 50mil (1.3mm) :: Integrated roll feed :: Early 2020 model :: Wireless & AirPrint

Wider version: SureColor P900 17″ Inkjet Color Printer

Get it on Amazon

One of the finest inkjet printers on the market today, the Epson SureColor P700 has one of the best resolution, color quality, mechanical precision, and reliability.

It consistently produces perfect results, making it superior to every other printer in my guide for the best printers for screen printing.

Don’t get me wrong – every printer I’ve listed here is wonderful, and I believe them all to be the best in their price range in so many ways, but the Epson SureColor P700 is in a class by itself.

Even simple silhouette printing, of the type you’ll most likely be doing for the silk screen process, is much cleaner, clearer, and more impactful.

The P700 is unbelievably good when you get into more complex and advanced images.

Ultra-high resolution, stunning color depth, accuracy, saturation, and range, incredible range of light and shadow, superb geometry and registration, fast, quiet, and reliable operation.

This is easily one of the finest inkjet printers I’ve ever used, and while it is not cheap, customers, again and again, say it is the best investment they’ve ever made.

The best high-end printer for screen printing or any arts or crafts work on absolutely any level, the Epson SureColor P700 wide format inkjet printer receives my strongest recommendation.

Specifications of Epson SureColor P700

Do You Need a Special Printer for Screen Printing?

It kind of depends on what we mean by “special printer.”

Most printers should be capable of printing onto transparency paper.

But a surprising number – even more expensive ones – have difficulty accurately and reliably moving the thin, slippery film and may not give very good results. 

And if you have an older printer, especially one that you’ve run a lot of paper through, its rollers may be pretty tired and have probably lost some tightness and friction, and it may also not give ideal results.

In either case, you may get images that are blurry or distorted, and if the print head is not very fine, or again is old, and at all clogged or worn, this too can make an image something less than crisp and clean, which will never allow a screen print to look as good as it can.

So if you are planning on getting a new printer anyway, even down the road a bit, you might want to consider doing it now – especially if you can get a really good brand new printer that works great not just for screen printing and transparencies, but for everything else – including beautiful art prints and photos – and at a really good price.

What Supplies do you Need for Screen Printing?

Screen printing, also known as silk screen printing, is a way to print incredibly bold, durable images onto t-shirts, bags, jackets, or other cloth materials. 

Not just print, but paint – you are using technology and a clever process to paint your designs directly onto fabric with beautiful, thick, flexible, and washable paint.

The images are so strong and striking that customers always find screen prints attractive and are willing to pay quite a bit for them – knowing they are beautiful and long-lasting.

There are a lot of steps to screen printing, and while it doesn’t necessarily need to be a complicated or difficult process, having just the right equipment makes it much easier.

Let’s look at what supplies you will need

Screen Printing Transparencies

Here are some of my favorite transparency papers/films, including a roll when you get the Epson SureColor P700.

A4
A3
Roll
Description:

8.5 x 11″ (A4) :: For Silk Screen Printing ( 50 or 100 Sheets )

Description:

13 x 19″ :: For Silk Screen Printing ( 50 or 100 Sheets )

Description:

13 x 100″ (A3) :: For Silk Screen Printing ( Roll )

A4
Description:

8.5 x 11″ (A4) :: For Silk Screen Printing ( 50 or 100 Sheets )

A3
Description:

13 x 19″ :: For Silk Screen Printing ( 50 or 100 Sheets )

Roll
Description:

13 x 100″ (A3) :: For Silk Screen Printing ( Roll )

Screen Printing Frame

You may hear that you can make your own screen printing frame, but it is so much easier, and you’ll get better results by buying an inexpensive specialty screen for screen printing like on of the ones below.

24″
14″
Description:

20 x 24 Inch Aluminum Silk Screen Printing Frame with 160 White Mesh and 1 Piece 13.7 Inch Screen Printing Squeegee for Screen Printing

Description:

10-Inch by 14-Inch

24″
Description:

20 x 24 Inch Aluminum Silk Screen Printing Frame with 160 White Mesh and 1 Piece 13.7 Inch Screen Printing Squeegee for Screen Printing

Screen Printing Paint

Having the right paint, a good squeegee, and a solid, adjustable lamp can make all the difference, and even all of this together is still not expensive.

 
 
 
Description:

Fabric Paint

Description:

Fabric Paint - 2 Versatex Starter Sets

Description:

Fabric Paint for Screen Printing Low Temp Cure 6 – 8oz Ink Bottles by Screen Print Direct

Description:

Fabric Paint - 2 Versatex Starter Sets

Description:

Fabric Paint for Screen Printing Low Temp Cure 6 – 8oz Ink Bottles by Screen Print Direct

Squeegee for Screen Printing 

14″
Set
Description:

14″ :: 75 Durometer wooden ink scraper

Description:

75 Durometer wooden ink scraper for screen printing :: Three sizes: 6″, 9″ and 14″

14″
Description:

14″ :: 75 Durometer wooden ink scraper

Set
Description:

75 Durometer wooden ink scraper for screen printing :: Three sizes: 6″, 9″ and 14″

Lamp for Screen Printing

My Pick
Globe Electric Architect 32" Lamp

Swing-Arm Clamp-On Lamp, Black Finish, LED Bulb Included

Get it on Amazon

Good Printer for Printing onto Transparency Paper 

⬆ Quick jump to Printers ⬆

You should also consider getting a very good printer for printing onto transparency paper, which will handle that paper with no problems and provide crisp, clean images.

And while printers can be expensive, you can find some of the best printers for silk screen printing at a very low price. 

Even if you get a somewhat higher level printer, one that costs a little more, it can still be a great value – especially if you end up with a printer that is good for not just screen printing but for anything and everything you might do in arts and crafts, and one which is well made and will last a long time.

Of course, you can get the last few items locally and may have them around your house:

Clear Glass

Black Poster Board

150 Watt Incandescent Lightbulb

And you can use any clean, flexible squeegee – though I would buy a new one and keep it just for screen printing – and any good adjustable desk lamp, as long as it has a dome to focus the light.

Screen Printing Starter Kit for Beginners

For Beginners
Caydo 31 Pieces Screen Printing Starter Kit

Includes 4 Different Size of Wood Silk Screen Printing Frame with 110 Mesh, Squeegees, Inkjet Transparency Film, Ink Knife, Gloves and Mask Tape

Get it on Amazon

You can also get a good starter kit with all the basics, like this Caydo 31 Piece Screen Print Starter Kit, but you still need emulsion, fabric paint, and maybe other stuff, and the kit may have some bits and bobs you don’t need. 

Better, I think, to keep with the list above, which are the basics and the best values.

A Step-by-Step Tutorial on How to Do Screen Printing at Home

Here are the basic steps for silk screen printing at home, specifically for a simple, single-color print – the best way to learn and practice.

Following these instructions will give you excellent results immediately, but if things don’t turn out perfectly the first time, don’t be discouraged – it might take some time and practice, but the beautiful end results will be well worth it.

1. Print Image onto transparency

Using a good printer for transparencies, print a simple, clean design onto transparency paper – clean lines and basic shapes work best, especially when you’re just starting, and clean, clear lettering also works great.

2. Prep your screen

  1. Combine the two parts of the emulsion as per the instructions.
  2. Run a line of emulsion paint along the top of the fabric.
  3. Using a squeegee, spread the emulsion flat and even along the entire fabric.
  4. Do the same on the other side of the fabric.
  5. Do this in a dark, windowless room with enough light to see.
  6. Lay the frame flat (with the wet emulsion) to dry.
  7. Then completely seal the room from light, including cracks around the door, and let dry for 1-3 hours.
  8. If you use a fan to dry the emulsion quicker, be sure it is at some distance, and set to low so as not to cause holes or gaps in the emulsion – better, though, to just be patient.

3. Expose the emulsion

  1. Set up your desk lamp with a 150-watt incandescent bulb to be facing straight down on a non-reflective dark surface – a matte black poster board, for example – using the instructions on the emulsion package to determine distance and exposure time. For best results, this should also be in a dark room.
  2. Careful not to expose it to direct light, lay the frame on top of the dark surface, with the back of the frame up.
  3. Place the transparency with your printed image on the fabric – since the frame is lying back up, the image should be reversed when you lay it down. Simply look at the image as you would like it to appear on the fabric, flip it horizontally, and lay it down.
  4. Put a clean, clear glass on top to keep the image flat.
  5. Expose for the recommended time – probably around 30 minutes, but follow the emulsion paint’s instructions.
  6. Remove the glass and the transparency; you should see a faint image of your original print on the emulsion.
  7. Proceed as quickly as possible to the next step.

4. Rinse the Emulsion Paint Away

Rinse the emulsion from the screen using a fairly high-power stream of water. Where the emulsion was exposed will be cured and will not rinse away, but the paint covered by the printed image will be rinsed off, leaving a space in the image’s shape.

5. Paint your Image

  1. Lay your t-shirt flat on a work surface.
  2. Lay the screen flat, back down (that is, so the dried emulsion is touching the fabric and the recessed part of the screen is up), onto the t-shirt, with the image positioned correctly on the shirt.
  3. Put a sufficient dollop of paint on the screen above the image.
  4. Squeegee the paint all over the image, without applying pressure, thickly and evenly, covering the whole image.
  5. Squeegee again, going in the same direction, with pressure to push the paint through the screen.
  6. Carefully remove the screen.
  7. Hang the shirt, or whatever you’ve printed on, to dry, ensuring there’s no dust, cat hair, etc.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully completed your first screen print! 

You can now either rinse the paint off the screen to use it again or remove the emulsion and start over with a new image.

Either way, you can use the same screen many, many times – just make sure, if you are removing the emulsion to make a new image, to do it pretty quickly, since older emulsion can be really hard to remove from the screen.

That’s the basic process of screen printing. 

There are different variations, even some different basic techniques, and of course, you can get as creative as you want – lots of colors, more and more complex designs – but this clean single color process is a great way to learn and practice screen printing until you’re ready to branch out.

That said, I think it is worth mentioning that these simple, basic designs – even just with a single color – are often very popular with customers (assuming you want to sell your creations), who seem to find them irresistibly elegant and attractive. 

The Joy of Screen Printing at Home

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As I look over my tutorial on how to do screen printing, with its five separate phases and 22 individual steps, it looks intimidating.

But it is simpler than you might expect.

If you follow the directions, take your time and do things carefully, you are likely to have not only a good success the very first time but really beautiful results and a really beautiful screen print.

I am sure that anybody who has tried their hand at any kind of art or craft project can do silk screen printing and do it well, and that you will be surprised at how quickly even the many steps become easy to remember and even automatic.

And once you have your first successful silk screen, you can print from it over and over, cutting out lots and lots of the steps – of course, you could also do just one print from it, or a few, call it a “limited edition” and sell it for even more!

Indeed, customers always seem willing to pay pretty good prices for screen print shirts, bags, and other items, and the relatively low initial investment will be well worth it even in the short term.

And make a larger investment and get a good printer for transparencies and the other basic kit.

You can make sure that the printer will be a good choice for all your printing needs, and a good quality, solid and reliable unit overall, and the investment just makes more and more sense!

FAQs – Best Printer for Screen Printing

Can you use any printer for screen printing?

No, you can’t use just any printer for screen printing. You will need a printer that supports printing on transparencies (transparency film), such as a high-quality inkjet printer Canon PIXMA PRO-200. Avoid laser printers because they don’t support printing on transparencies.

Can you use an inkjet printer for screen printing?

Yes, absolutely! Inkjet printers are the best in terms of resolution and color accuracy. They are well suited for printing on transparency film, which is important for transferring your designs onto different materials. I recommend the Canon PIXMA PRO-200 inkjet printer.

Which printer is used for screen printing?

Based on my and my artist friends’ experience, I recommend Canon PIXMA PRO-200 to support you in the process of screen printing!

What is the difference between sublimation and screen print?

The basic difference between sublimation and screen print is that sublimation uses heat to turn ink (dyes) into gas which then bonds with the fabric or other material you use on a deeper level. This allows for far richer and bolder colors. In comparison, the screen print technique prints on top of the fabric or material, so the bond is not as strong. Sublimation print also tends to be more expensive than a screen print.

I hope my guide helped you get a new printer for screen printing transparencies. And if you are just starting, my tutorial guided you to your first-ever screen print!

Visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for other buyer’s guides, online courses, articles, and other resources.

Other articles in the Printers and Scanners series:

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

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