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Screen printing can be a complicated process, and the quest to find the best printer for screen printing reflected that. We went through a process of looking at over 20 printers over the course of four days to find the best inkjet printers that you can use for t-shirt making or other craft making. The printers needed to be inkjet, be able to produce on transparency film, and achieve high-resolution prints of black ink. The list below comprises the best printers for printing custom clothing, artwork, posters, canvasses, and more.
The top pick is the HP OfficeJet Pro 9015 for its ability to handle varied sizes and weight of transparency paper. Its black ink and printer head also handles the texture of transparency films exceptionally well, adhering almost instantaneously to avoid smudging. The end result is crisp designs with deep black color depth. If you’re a Mac user and need a printer that’s compatible with your device, check out the best printer for Mac. Keep reading about this and our other top picks to learn more about the best printers on the market today.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: The HP OfficeJet Pro is a feature-packed printer that handles thick transparency paper, custom media sizes, and produces crisp, clear black ink at 1200 x 1200 dpi.
One of the best parts about this printer is the ability to access your screen print designs from anywhere. Its intuitive 2.65-inch color touchscreen allows you to access files and documents from Google Drive directly. You can print from the cloud, directly from USB, and through HP’s Smart App and Smart Task, which also lets you manage the printer with easy navigation. The scanner is really nice for those who need to digitize their designs, as it achieves 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution and can upload in seven different file formats. You can also use AirPrint and Google Cloud Print for a seamless printing experience with excellent connectivity. Definitely one of the most modern printers out there.
You’ll be able to use your preferred transparencies with support for custom media sizes and weights up to 110 lbs. This printer also performs especially well printing on glossy and varied textured media. It’s also nice that it accommodates paper up to 8.5 x 14-inches and borderless printing on up to 8.5 x 11-inch media. While this HP has the highest maximum printing speed, what really matters is you can produce high-quality transparencies with it. And for quality printing, it is important to invest in the best printer paper on the market.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This Brother printer stands up to heavy use with the ability to use high-yield ink cartridges that produce 2,400 black pages. Transparency film printouts are crisp and streak-free.
Of the many reasons that make this printer an excellent choice, its reliable performance and cost-effective ink are definitely the standouts. This Brother screen printer can handle all of your printing jobs and reprints without slowing down or committing errors wirelessly through Wi-Fi or a connection. In addition to its reliability, it has a super-efficient ink system that produces up to 2,400 black-ink copies off of one high-capacity version cartridge. That’s pretty amazing considering it still achieves up to 6000 x 1200 dpi resolution on its prints. When you do need to replace your cartridges this versatile printer is Amazon Dash Replenishment ready so you can opt for convenient automatic delivery to your door.
This model gives you flexible print options, whether it’s from your smartphone, cloud services, the built-in scanner, and more, making it one of the best wireless printers. You can even scan directly to Google Drive, Dropbox, and other similar services. It handles transparency film with ease and accommodates sizes up to 8.5 x 14-inches. We encourage artists to compare this model to the best printer for art prints that can produce borderless prints on sizes up to 13 x 19 inches.
Award: Best for Professionals
WHY WE LIKE IT: This printer is worthy of any professional artist as it produces monochrome prints with exquisite detail and up to 1200 x 1200 dpi. It has the added versatility of being able to handle a large format transparency sheet.
For those who want to produce crisp graphics with a professional look, the Designjet provides great black-ink quality and allows a multitude of media types. The most unique feature of this printer is the fact that you can print on transparent roll paper up to 45-inches long and cut sheets in your size of choice. If you’re looking to work bigger, the wide-format printing of up to 24-inches gives you the ability to screen print beyond the usual 8 x 11-inch limit of most inkjet printers. It also handles up to 11.8 mm thick media. It has great paper handling and you never have to worry about paper jams.
This printer was designed for fantastic print quality in black-and-white, specifically for graphic designer and engineer usage and optimal productivity. As such, its black ink production is detailed and crisp with up to 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution. If you choose to work from a roll of paper, its automatic cutting feature takes the work out of having to cut sheet sizes by hand after. For screen printing transfers, this model has amazing features. Another quality model is the best printer for crafting that uses Claria Photo HD Ink that is vibrant and long-lasting.
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Award: Best on a Budget
WHY WE LIKE IT: This compact and budget-friendly Canon printer offers fabulous value with versatile mobile, wireless, and cloud printing while achieving great black-ink resolution.
You’ll find that this printer is very easy to use right from the initial setup process. It has all the features expected of a modern-day smart printer — with printing from WiFi, cloud, tablets — while being very intuitive to use. This is a great everyday printer that can double for use with screen printing, as it achieves pretty clear resolution black-ink printouts of up to 1200 x 1200 dpi. It’s not the fastest printer at 9.9 images per minute, but you don’t need it to be. It gets the job done and gives you high-quality prints without breaking the bank like an expensive printer.
In this price range, it’s great that you can access your digital images and designs from virtually any source thanks to the machine’s great connectivity options. It’s especially convenient for those who work from their tablet and at a reasonable price. The scanner is good enough quality to use as a source as well, in case you’re working from hand-drawn designs or photo prints. But for when you’re at work, consider the best printer for the office that gets you 32 pages per minute and connects through WiFi.
Award: Best for Large Media
WHY WE LIKE IT: For printing on large size media, the Epson Artisan offers fantastic media versatility options in both size and weight along with stellar print resolution quality.
This Epson printer excels as a wide format printer and for high definition, detailed print quality. You can print on media up to 13-inches wide and 44-inches long. It can even print borderless on a 13 x 19-inch transparency. While it can handle transparent film, you probably don’t want to go thicker than the standard 4mm weight.
As for print quality, this unit uses ink designed for longevity. It’s smudge, fade, scratch, and water-resistant, all of which are ideal for screen printing. Additionally, the printhead nozzles can achieve a droplet size of as little as 1.5 picoliters, the detail of which will give your printouts a very professional finish. While you won’t need the additional five-color cartridges for screen printing, they will come in handy if you want fabulous photo printing. You can also compare that to the best inkjet printer.
Award: Best for Hobbyists
WHY WE LIKE IT: HP has made a wonderful printer good for all kinds of hobbies and crafts, including screen printing. It achieves great resolution and comes with useful creative software and additional crafting supplies.
All hobbyists and crafters will love the versatility and creative possibility that this HP Envy printer provides. Two different creative software, Hallmark Card Studio Select and Print Artists Gold, come included with the printer, which can come in handy for designing. It also comes with 12 iron-on transfers, so you can get a feel for the screen printing process before diving right in.
Most importantly, this unit handles transparency film well and produces up to 1200 x 1200 dpi black-ink prints. Clarity is especially good for text and lettering. Ultimately, the HP ENVY Photo 6222 is a smartly designed all-in-one machine that allows you to screen print and get high-quality printouts for your other crafts and hobbies. And if you’re a student, you will want to invest in the best printer for students that offers convenient management of printing functions and monitors ink levels. What about the best printer for small businesses? Read our best printer small business guide.
Award: Best for Detail Work
WHY WE LIKE IT: If you plan on screen printing detailed designs, the Epson SureColor P400 has Variable Droplet Technology that achieves extraordinarily fine, smooth detail for black-ink designs.
For screen printers who want to achieve fabulous detail in their designs and image quality, this is the best printer to use. This Epson is able to achieve deep, dark prints of black from its printhead with Variable Droplet Technology. It can produce up to three different ink droplet sizes on every print line, so even fine edges come across strong enough for the transfer process.
This model is also a great large format printer for variable media sizes, as it accommodates widths of up to 13-inches and can print on rolls up to 129-inches long. This printer has two black-ink cartridges — photo black and matte black — each designed to achieve a different texture for your print. That technology gives you a versatile, wide range when working with screen transparencies and special transfer paper. With 180 nozzles on each cartridge, either one achieves some of the deepest, most dense blacks on your transparency film. To save on ink, consider the best ink efficient printer that has an Ink Save Mode you can switch on to ration your ink use.
Award: Best for Home Office
WHY WE LIKE IT: This convenient, compact Canon prints and scans with photo quality, has a straightforward control panel, and several versatile wireless connection options that allow you to print designs from anywhere.
Here’s your best bet for a do-it-all printer that performs home office work and also works well for screen printing. It can handle transparent paper and achieves a surprisingly deep black color for a printer of its size. The small footprint of 17.2 x 11.7-inches is a bonus for space-saving.
The compatible Canon Print app and EPP Editor app are convenient add-ons for managing your print and scan jobs, printing wirelessly, and tweaking your designs before printing. If you need to scan some hand-drawn stuff, the scan quality of 600 x 1200 dpi is good enough that you won’t lose major quality in the process of digitizing your work for printing. Compare that to the best all-in-one printer that allows for a minimum trifecta between print, copy, scan, and fax functionality, and the ultimate model you can find is an all-in-one wireless printer.
Award: Best Environmentally Friendly
WHY WE LIKE IT: Screenprint high-resolution designs while being kinder to the environment with Epson’s patented refillable ink bottles that save the world from cartridge waste. This printer is also recyclable and Energy Star qualified.
Feel good about your screen printing with this environmentally conscious Epson printer. Not only is the model itself recyclable and Energy Star qualified, it also uses a patented refillable INKvestment ink system that saves you from adding empty cartridges to landfills. Definitely an upgraded technology from regular cartridges.
With up to 5760 x 1440 dpi print resolution, you’re not sacrificing color quality with this ink system. You’ll get quality prints with deep blacks with that maximum print resolution — perfect for the screen printing transfer process. Even though the 1.44-inch LCD screen is smaller than others, it conveniently tilts out and up to give you a better view of the controls. Consider comparing this printer to the best laser printer that has a large 4.3” color touchscreen.
Award: Best for Heat Transfers
WHY WE LIKE IT: In addition to being able to use the Epson Stylus C88+ for screen printing, we love that you can also put its long-lasting, high-resolution ink to use for heat transfer t-shirt making as well.
This printer provides great versatility for t-shirt making. Its Claria Ultra pigment cartridges use pigment-based inks that are instant-drying, fade, smudge, and water-resistant. This is crucial for transparent paper and iron-on transfer paper alike so that your transfer images are clear. The printer can achieve up to 5760 x 1440 optimized dpi resolution for really crisp images and designs.
The black ink head has 180 individual ink nozzles, helping it print really smooth and dense levels of black. The ink droplet size is variable, meaning that the print heads are capable of achieving a higher level of detail in each line of print. Alongside the print head technology, its high color resolution also makes this a fantastic photo printer. It’s wise to compare it to the best photo printer that produces shareable keepsake photos on the spot from just about any digital image you can put on your iPhone, Android smartphone, or tablet. If you want to print artworks and logos on t-shirts, read the best printer heat transfers guide.
Printing for screen printing requires producing as thick and dense ink on the page as possible. This is best achieved by inkjet printing machines. From the outset, we only considered inkjet printers. Laser printers are generally designed for speed and can’t produce the level of ink quality and thickness needed.
We also only included printers that can print on transparency paper. Printers had to accommodate transparency paper of at least 4mm thick and 8 x 11-inch size. While there is a way to screen print using lighter-weight white printer paper, we only considered options that you could use following the standard process.
Since you’re always printing in black-and-white for this process, we required printers to have at least a 1200 x 1200 dpi black ink resolution. The precision on the printhead’s nozzles for black ink was also considered, as the more detail they are the crisper the edges are on your design. Additionally, we looked for printers that used smudge-resistant ink, and that dried quickly. Any blotchiness or smudges can mess up the screen printing process later.
Chances are you want to print on the best transparencies for screen printing. When you’re looking at printers, one of the most important factors is considering what type of transparency paper you want to print on. This includes its size dimensions as well as the thickness of the paper. Most inkjet printers can print your designs out good enough for screen printing, but many can be limited in the size of media they can handle. Make sure you get one that’s appropriate for the media you plan to print on.
Depending on the designs you plan to screen print, the resolution of your printer can be important. Printers will often list their max color resolution in dots per inch (dpi). Some will also note the max resolution for monochrome printing. It’s best if your printer can achieve at least 1200 x 1200 dpi black ink high-quality output. If it doesn’t specify the black ink resolution, then look at the overall maximum resolution. A very high resolution like 5760 x 1440 dpi should be a top option. Additionally, take note of how many nozzles are used for the application of black ink. The higher the number, the smoother and crisper the resolution will be.
Ink Quality and Durability
The quality of the ink you’re using is quite important in any printer for screen printing transparencies. It needs to be crisp and clear, so you don’t want anything that’s going to smudge easily or not take to the transparency film well. Inks that dry quickly and are labeled as smudge and fade resistant are always good bets. You can also look for photo quality inks and inks that have a guaranteed lifetime before fading, as those inks will most likely dry quickly and not look streaky.
The perfect printer for screen printing t-shirts is inkjet printers with high-quality black ink resolution. These printers are used by hobbyists, crafters, graphic designers, and people with small businesses. Printers designed for screen printing are used to print the templates for the screen printing process onto transparent film media. People screen print for fun, to create t-shirts for family and special events, for gifts, and as promotional merchandise for events and small businesses.
Luckily, many commercially available inkjet printers allow you to screen print. There are exceptions, of course. You must make sure that the printer can handle transparency film. If it can’t, then it’s not a good option for screen printing.
You must use an inkjet printer for printing on transparencies. Inkjet printer ink is the best ink to achieve the color depth that you need on your transparency for the screen printing process. Once you know a printer can handle transparency film, you can also look at the resolution and ink quality of the printer to get the best quality print.
Yes, inkjet printers are in fact the best printer for screenprint transfers. The type of ink that inkjet printers use is best suited to adhering to the texture of transparency film. If you use other types of printers, the color depth of the black ink will be too weak, which is not ideal for the transfer process in screen printing.
No, it is not recommended to use a LaserJet printer for printing. Laser printers are designed for speed and volume jobs usually, not for quality. As such, many laser printers produce low-resolution images and designs. If a design is too low of a resolution, then the light will go through it during the transfer process and will produce a faded print. Inkjet printers remain the best printer for screen printing t-shirts.