Printing your T-shirts is a great side hustle or small business idea. You can even run it from home if you choose a suitable T-shirt printing machine. So, here’s my guide to the best direct-to-garment printers available.
If you’re new to T-shirt printing, you’ll need a reliable yet easy-to-use machine. But with so many options, it’s easy to get confused.
- Sawgrass SG500 Dye-Sublimation Printer with Sawgrass UHD Starter Ink Set - 20ml per ink colorSwing's Pro 4-in-1 Mug & Cup Heat Press in Turquoise - 1 - Mug Attachment Large (installed) 1 - Mug Attachment Small, 1 - Conical Tumbler Attachment Tall, 1 - Conical Latte Attachment Short, 12 Pack of ProSub 11oz Mug Blanks100 Sheets of Premium Sublimation Paper specifically designed by Sawgrass for their printers, 4 Rolls of ProSub Heat Resistant Transfer Tape 1/8in, 1/4in, 1/2in , 1in, 5 - Design Access Cards for Sublimation Designs - SVGs, JPGs, Commercial Use (Each card is good for up to 30 designs)2 Year Manufacturer on Sawgrass SG500, Manufacturer 1-on-1 Onboarding, , CreativeStudio Online Designer Software, Printer Recommended with Windows 10 or newer, Mac OS 10.9 or newerIMPORTANT: Please note that Sawgrass includes starter inks with their printers. A large percentage of the ink is used to fill the lines. Even though you may get a low ink warning the starter inks should provide over 200+ full coverage prints.Included components: Printer, Inks, Paper, Mug Press, Blanks, Tape, Designs, SupportMax printspeed black white: 20.0Max printspeed color: 5.0
- Sawgrass S10500 Dye-Sublimation Printer with Sawgrass UHD Starter Ink Set - 20ml per ink color100 Sheets of 11'' x 17'' Premium Sublimation Paper specifically designed by Sawgrass for their printers, 5 - Design Access Cards for Sublimation Designs - SVGs, JPGs, Commercial Use (Each card is good for up to 30 designs)Sublimation Blanks Sample Pack, 4 Rolls of Swing Branded Heat Resistant Transfer Tape 1/8in, 1/4in, 1/2in , 1in, CreativeStudio Online Designer Software, Printer Recommended with Windows 10 or newer, Mac OS 10.9 or newer2 Year Manufacturer , Manufacturer 1-on-1 Onboarding. Sublimation does not work on cotton or dark fabrics.IMPORTANT: Please note that Sawgrass includes starter inks with their printers. A large percentage of the ink is used to fill the lines. Even though you may get a low ink warning the starter inks should provide over 200+ full coverage prints. Sublimation does not work on cotton or dark fabrics and requires a heat press for application.Max printspeed black white: 19.0Max printspeed color: 19.0
- Sold as 1 Each.
- Save up to 90% with low-cost replacement ink bottles vs. cartridges.
- Up to 2 years of ink with each included or replacement ink set.
- Replacement ink up to 7,500 pages black/6,000 color.
- Set of replacement bottles equivalent to about 80 individual cartridges. Auto 2-sided printing. Easy wireless networking. Voice-activated printing.
- 360° ROTATION - With a swing-away and guide rail design, this VIVOHOME heat press machine provides a full range press directly and evenly, which guarantees the quality of finished transfers; The design of the pull handle on top is non-slip and simple to operate during printing; The strong base makes it more stable when using
- LED DISPLAY - Dual integrated digital LED display with controller allows you to pre-set temperature and timer countdown; It can display in both Celsius and Fahrenheit and the alarm will sound when time has completed; When the countdown ends, the light of the screen will be faded if you do not operate the machine within 30 minutes
- POWERFUL FUNCTION - 32-480 °F / 0-250 °C temperature range; 0-999s timer range; Temperature will maintain a constant level once the preset time is reached; It ensures machine solidly works at accurate settings; The small red button on the side of the control box would pop up when the temperature is too high or the voltage is unstable, ensuring your safe use
- HEATING PLATE - The die-cast aluminum-made heating plate measures 12" x 15", providing more choices of printing types for you, from small gifts to commodities; With non-stick Teflon-coated surface, it effectively prevents scorching during thermal transfers; The removable foaming silicon pad can endure maximum heat of 250°C without any distortion
- 8-IN-1 SET - This heat press machine has a wide range of uses and strong practicability; The complete kit helps you easily apply transfers, letters, numbers and images onto T-shirts, caps, ceramic plates, ceramic tiles, mugs, coasters, mouse pads, jigsaw puzzles, letterings, and other misc. fabrics; Different sizes of mug presses in the package could meet different transfer demands for you
- Full 360-degree rotation and professional swing-away design.Note: If the heating plate is not flat, pls check first if the machine is placed on a flat workstation and make sure to add enough pressure by adjusting the pressure knob to secure the plate from shaking
- Digital LED controller, Non-stick surface W/ Detached upgraded aluminium alloy cradle for use of the mugs, hats & pads elements
- Large 12" x 15" Heat Press, provides a big surface to create your own custom T-shirt etc
- This 5 in 1 multifunction heat press machine comes with hat, mug, plate attachments for make your custom mugs, pads or hats besides just T-shirts
- This 5-in-1 Set can widely be used to transfer colorful pictures and characters of sublimating and dissolved printing ink onto ceramics, glasses and textiles such as cotton, flax, chemical fiber, nylon, etc.
- Teflon coated Heating Plate: 15x15 inch. Voltage: 110V. Power: 1400 W. Digital Control Board (Temperature Range: 32-455 F & Time Range: 0-999 s)
- Removable Silicon Mat: The silicon mat is not glued on the bottom board. Advantages: Washable (Easy to clean after work) & Replaceable (Easy to replace with new mat). Please feel free to move or attach as you like.
- Bottom handle: When the heating plate is closed with high temperature, the shape of the machine might change slightly. A bottom handle can then help you open the plate easily and safely.
- Patented Design Control Chip: Makes the machine more powerful, more accurate and safer to control the temperature.
- Replaceable Fuse: Protect machine from overheating and electric short.
You’ll find everything from budget printers to professional printing machines. So, how can you narrow down the choices and find the right T-shirt maker machine?
That’s why I’ve put together this guide to the best printing machines. I’ll walk you through the key factors when buying a printing machine for your small business. Plus, I’ll share my recommendations for the best machines to make shirts for any budget.
Printing T-shirts is a fun, creative hobby. But it can also be a way to start your own business and earn money from your designs.
With the power of the internet, you can sell to people all over the country (and the world). Plus, it’s pretty rewarding seeing someone wearing something you’ve made.
So, let’s dive in and look at the best DTG printers and heat press machines for T-shirt printing!
Top 3 Machines to Make Shirts: Quick Comparison
Here’s a quick summary of the top 3 printing machines if you’re in a rush.
In my opinion, the best sublimation printer for T-shirts is the Sawgrass SG1000. It can produce large designs up to 11 x 17 inches and is a very efficient printer. The SG1000 has the excellent print quality and was designed specifically for sublimation printing.
For the best heat press, I’d recommend the Vivohome 8-in-1. It’s a reliable printer with a large aluminum heating plate and an LED display for easy operation. This heat press can handle designs up to 12 x 15 inches and produces a clean, even transfer.
If you’re looking for a professional printing machine, check out the Col-Desi M2. It’s an excellent DTG printer that can print two shirts at once. It will increase your productivity and output, so you can sell more products and make more money. This desktop printer is a little bulky but would fit in a home office. It’s a considerable investment, but it could be the right choice for your business.
Buying Guide to the Best T-Shirt Maker Machine
Here’s what you need to know before buying a T-shirt-making machine. These are the key factors to consider when weighing up if a printer suits your needs.
Type of Printing Machine
The first decision you must make is what kind of printing machine you want. The main options for T-shirt printing are a sublimation printer or a heat press machine.
(You’ll find reviews for both types below to help you pick the right one for your needs).
But what’s the difference between a heat press and a sublimation printer? And which is better for printing and selling T-shirts?
A sublimation printer uses special ink that sinks into and fuses with the fabric. So, it becomes integral to the material, rather than sitting as a layer on top.
As a result, sublimation printing tends to create more durable, long-lasting designs. However, you’ll still need a heat press to transfer your design to the fabric.
Plus, sublimation inks are only compatible with polyester fabrics. They won’t work with 100% cotton or other materials. So, you’ll need to use heat transfer paper instead.
Heat Press Machine
You’ll need to buy heat transfer paper and print out your design with a heat press. Then, you’ll use the heat press to apply the design to the fabric. As mentioned, using heat transfer paper gives you more options for your materials.
But there’s a possibility the designs won’t last as long compared to sublimation printing. There’s a risk that the designs will start to peel or fade over time.
I’ve reviewed the best products below, whether you use sublimation or heat transfer paper. Either way, you’ll need a printer and a heat press for the entire process.
Or, you could go for a direct-to-garment printer. They can print directly onto the fabric, saving time and streamlining the process. Businesses use these machines to produce clothes on a large scale. And so, they tend to be much more expensive.
Ease of Use
If you’re new to direct-to-garment printing, you’ll want a machine that’s simple and accessible. Some great entry-level machines don’t need an expert to run.
In contrast, a professional T-shirt printer could be much more complicated. It may provide some advanced features or better specs. But that’s not a lot of use if you don’t know how to use the machine in the first place.
Consider how much time you want to spend working out how to use your new printing machine. Do you prefer reading the entire manual and watching a few tutorials? Or are you the type who likes to dive right in? That should help you decide what kind of T-shirt printer to go for.
You also might want to look into the customer support each brand provides. For example, Epson has technicians who help you if you have any issues with your printer. So, that could be a real bonus if you do experience any problems.
You’ll need to know what you can afford before you start shopping around. Otherwise, you may get tempted by a print machine that’s out of your budget.
The good news is that there are good options ranging from low-cost to premium models. So, you can find something that suits your budget. I’ve reviewed the best printing machines for every budget below, so read on to find the right one for you.
Maintenance Overhead & Cost
But it’s not just the initial cost you should look into when it comes to a print machine for T-shirts. The overhead of the running costs and maintenance can soon add up.
So, you should compare how the different brands and models fare. For example, some printers have automatic cleaning programs. And that can keep them working better for longer with minimal input from you.
Brother and Epson printers are well-known to have lower maintenance needs. These printers should run smoothly for a good long time. So, you won’t need to spend much time (or money) on them.
Whatever you go for, make sure you read the reviews carefully. You should look out for any mentions of durability, repairs, and overall maintenance. That can help prepare you for any costs further down the line.
And don’t forget to find out if the printing machine comes with a warranty. That info can provide further peace of mind and confidence in your investment.
The Best T-Shirt Sublimation Printers
Here’s my round-up of the best sublimation printers. I’ve summarized what each printer has to offer. You’ll find details on its specs, pros, and cons, so you can find the machine that best suits your needs.
Sawgrass UHD Virtuoso SG500
Best Sublimation Printer for Home Businesses
(Image credit: Sawgrass)
Sawgrass products don’t come cheap and for a good reason. This company produces some of the best sublimation printers around.
It offers products for home businesses right up to huge professional printing machines. But the UHD Virtuoso is one of the best machines to make shirts at home.
The UHD Virtuoso SG500 is a compact printer that can easily fit on top of a desk. So, it won’t take up too much space in your home. But it’s also super powerful, allowing you to create high-quality printed shirts.
For this reason, the SG500 is one of the most popular printing machines available. It’s an upgraded version of the earlier SG400 model and offers much.
You can create designs up to 8.5 x 14 inches using this printer. However, it also supports bigger designs thanks to the addition of a bypass tray.
So, you can actually make sublimation prints up to 51 inches wide. That provides you with more versatility – although the max length is still 8.5 inches. You might find that a little limiting, but at least it’s cool to have the option.
Another bonus of this Sawgrass printer is its automatic maintenance cycle. That means you won’t need to spend as much time cleaning and maintaining this printer. So, it’s more hands-free, simple to use, and less likely to run into clogging issues.
This printer is a sturdy and durable model, so it’s a great investment. Plus, it comes with a 2-year warranty that covers any malfunction. Sawgrass even offers a free onboarding session to help you start your new printer.
For all these reasons, I think the Sawgrass SG500 is the best T-shirt maker machine around. It’s not cheap, but it provides excellent value for money. With this printer, you’ll have everything you need to create and sell amazing T-shirts.
- Printing Technology: Dye Sublimation
- Brand: Sawgrass
- Paper Formats: Up to 8.5 x 14 inches or 8.5 x 51 inches using the bypass tray
- Printer Output: Color
- A superb T-shirt printer
- It produces bright, high-quality designs
- It’s a hardwearing model that comes with a 2-year warranty
- It’s compact and practical for home businesses
- It’s not cheap
Sawgrass UHD Virtuoso SG1000
Best Wide Format Printing Machine for Small Businesses
(Image credit: Sawgrass)
If you liked the sound of the Sawgrass SG500, keep listening. The SG1000 is another fantastic Sawgrass product for printing T-shirts for your business.
And while this model is more expensive, it has a few advantages over the SG500 model. First, this printer can handle larger media. You can print designs up to 11 x 17 inches, giving you more flexibility in what you create.
But the Sawgrass SG1000 also has a handy bypass tray. And that allows you to print anything up to 13 x 51 inches long. So, you have the potential to create larger products (and make more money!).
Despite being a large-format printer, the SG1000 is pretty compact. That’s much more convenient for home use or small businesses.
This printer uses high-quality SubliJet UHD inks specifically designed for sublimation. So, your designs will appear sharp, crisp, and vividly colored. Even better, the printer comes with sublimation ink, so you can start immediately. No extra cost is necessary.
You don’t just have to use this printer for T-shirts (although it’s ideal for them!). It’s compatible with a wide range of materials. You can also print on glass, slate, ceramics, wood, plastic, and aluminum. So, you could produce mugs, signs, and all sorts for sale.
As you’d expect, it also comes with a 2-year warranty. Plus, Sawgrass offers lifetime support to its customers to help you get the most out of your printer.
- Printing Technology: Dye Sublimation
- Brand: Sawgrass
- Paper Formats: Up to 11 x 17 or 13 x 51 inches with the bypass tray
- Printer Output: Color
- A fantastic dye-sublimation printer for T-shirts
- You can also produce a range of other products as it can print on different materials
- It creates vivid, bright, and sharp designs
- You get a 2-year warranty and lifetime support
- It’s expensive, which makes it a big investment
Epson EcoTank ET-2720
Best Low-Cost T-Shirt Printer
(Image credit: Epson)
If you’re looking for a more affordable printer, check out the Epson EcoTank ET-2720.
This model is one of Epson’s ink tank printers, making it very cost-effective. Instead of using ink cartridges, it has an ink tank you can fill up instead.
As a result, you’ll save a lot of money on cartridges in the long run. Plus, it’s more eco-friendly as it cuts down on single-use plastic.
You can easily convert the Epson ET-2720 for T-shirt printing. All you need to do is fill the ink tank with sublimation ink instead of regular ink.
The ET-2720 has a 1400 DPI image resolution. So, your T-shirt designs will come out crisp and vibrant.
This printer offers a good range of connectivity options, including WiFi and Ethernet. So, you have more flexibility in how you print your designs.
The Epson ET-2720 is a great choice for anyone on a budget. You can print fast, reliable designs without blowing your savings.
- Printing Technology: Inkjet
- Brand: Epson
- Paper Formats: 3.5″ x 5″, 4″ x 6″, 5″ x 7″, 8″ x 10″, 8.5″ x 11″, 8.5″ x 14″, A4, A6, half letter, legal, executive
- Printer Output: Color
- This printer is very affordable
- You can fill the ink tank with sublimation ink
- The cost per print is low – so it can save you money
- It has WiFi connectivity
- The paper tray only holds 100 sheets
The Best T-Shirt Heat Press Machines
Once you’ve printed your designs, you’ll need to transfer them to your shirts. So, you’ll need a reliable heat press machine for the next step.
Here are my reviews of the best heat press machines to make shirts.
VIVOHOME 8 in 1 Combo Heat Press Transfer Machine for T-Shirt
Best Heat Press Machine for T-shirts
(Image credit: VIVOHOME)
The Vivohome 8-in-1 machine is one of the best heat presses for making T-shirts at home. This model is one of the more expensive machines, but it provides everything you need.
This heat press machine can handle designs up to 12 x 15 inches. You can upgrade to the 15 x 15-inch model if you need something bigger.
With the Vivohome heat-press, you get a clean and even application every time. The guard rail ensures that the design is aligned and comes out perfectly.
The LED display and 360-degree rotation make it easy to operate. You can set the designed temperature and timer for hands-off, accurate printing. Plus, this heat press works with all sorts of materials and products.
- It has a good-sized heat plate, suitable for designs up to 12 x 15 inches
- The designs come out clean and precise, with an even application
- It’s simple and easy to use
- You can choose the temperature and set a timer
- It’s more expensive than the other heat presses on this list
F2C Pro 5 in 1 Combo Heat Press Machine T-Shirt
Runner-Up Heat Press Machine for Printing Shirts
(Image credit: F2C)
This heat press is another great option for printing shirts at home. This model can transfer large designs up to 12 x 15 inches. So, it’s suitable for most T-shirts you’d like to create at home.
It has an LED display you can program with the time and temperature. Plus, it comes with separate attachments for printing mugs and hats. So, it opens up the option for selling different products, too.
This heat plate is practical, compact, and has a 1-year warranty. It has a durable build and should last you a long time. So, it’s a fantastic buy for anyone who wants to print and sell T-shirts from home.
- A reasonably priced heat press
- You can create large T-shirt designs up to 12 x 15 inches
- It’s easy to program the LED display
- It comes with a 1-year warranty
- It doesn’t have as many options and features as the Vivohome heat press
PowerPress Industrial-Quality Heat Press Machine for T-Shirt
Best Budget Heat Press Machine
(Image credit: PowerPress)
The PowerPress machine could be just what you need if you’re on a tight budget. It’s slightly cheaper than the other heat presses listed here and a bit more basic. But it does the job, making it ideal if you want to print shirts without spending too much money.
Even better, this heat press is suitable for designs up to 15 x 15 inches. So, you can create large designs that will look amazing on your shirts.
The PowerPress has a removable silicone mat that’s easy to clean and maintain. Plus, it comes with a 3-year limited warranty.
- An affordable heat press
- Comes with a 3-year limited warranty
- You can set your desired temperature
- It’s ideal for printing large T-shirts
- It doesn’t come with any extra accessories or attachments
- You can’t print on other products like mugs
Professional Printing Machines
Here are some of your best bets if you’re looking for a professional printing machine. These printing machines are best suited if you invest a bit more and have enough space for a larger machine.
Best Desktop Professional Printing Machine
The Epson F2100 is ideal if you want a compact yet professional printing machine. It can easily fit on a table and won’t take up too much space. However, it’s much larger than the regular sublimation printers listed above.
But with the F2100, you can produce high quantities of printed T-shirts. The quality is superb, and this printer works quickly and quietly. It has a self-cleaning system and comes with a robust garment design program.
All these features make it perfect as a DTG printer for a home business. The Epson F2100 is a professional printer far more effective than a regular printer. But it will also set you back a lot more money.
If you’re ready to invest seriously in your business, this printer could be perfect for your needs.
- Printing Technology: Direct-to-garment printing
- Brand: Epson
- Maximum Print Area: 16 x 20 inches
- Printer Output: Color
- One of the best DTG printers on the market
- It’s compact, with a tabletop design
- It takes up less space than a freestanding model
- It’s fast, efficient, and quiet when in use
- It’s extremely expensive
Best Professional Printing Machine
Brother is a well-known brand, and this DTG printer doesn’t disappoint. It ticks all the right boxes, from automated maintenance to incredible print quality.
This Brother printer is quite heavy and bulky at 4.5 x 4.25 feet. You can either place it on a desktop or order the custom stand if you have enough space for it.
Despite this, it’s an excellent DTG printer for large-scale T-shirt production. You can produce all sorts of products with this printer, widening your range.
Brother provides outstanding customer support and a generous 2-year warranty. And it makes sense when you’re investing so much money into a machine. So, that provides peace of mind and confidence when buying this printer.
The Brother GTX is a reliable printer for large-scale production with consistent results.
- Printing Technology: Direct-to-garment Printing
- Brand: Brother
- Maximum Print Area: 16 x 21 inches
- Printer Output: Color
- This printer is reliable and consistent
- Your designs will come out crystal clear and vivid
- You can produce a range of different products with the GTX
- It comes with a 2-year limited warranty
- It’s very expensive – a huge investment
- It works best with the custom stand for humidification
- It can be noisy when in use
Col-Desi (DTG Digital) M2
Best Dual Platen DTG Printer
The Col-Desi M2 is another of the most popular DTG printers out there. It’s even more efficient and speedy than the GTX and the F2100.
The reason is that it has dual platens so it can print two T-shirts simultaneously. As you can imagine, that will speed up your workflow considerably. So, you can produce (and sell) even more products.
The Col-Desi M2 is a desktop printer, so you’ll need to have a suitable surface. It measures 4 x 3 ft, so it’s not the most compact printer. But with its printing capacity, that’s not the highest concern. And despite the dual platens, this printer is pretty quiet when in use.
Overall, the Col-Desi M2 is worth considering if you want to increase your output. You’ll print more T-shirts so that you can increase your sales. If you plan to scale your business, this printer could be exactly what you need.
- Printing Technology: Direct-to-Garment printing
- Brand: Col-Desi
- Maximum Print Area:
- Printer Output: Color
- You can print two shirts at the same time
- It brings greater productivity to your business
- You’ll be able to increase your output
- It fits on a desktop
- It’s pretty quiet when in use
- It’s also very expensive
The Wrap Up
Now, you know all your options for T-shirt printing machines, from budget to premium. However much you have to spend, you’ll find the right option out there.
So, which one will you go for? Share with me in the comments below! And let me know if you have any questions about printing T-shirts at home.
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