Ink costs vary from machine to machine, but a broad average for a 10-by-12-inch image on a light shirt (no white ink) is about $.50. A dark shirt is about $2.00. Pretreating costs approximately $.20-$.25. As with ink costs, production times vary as well, but generally that same 10-by-12-inch image is about 90 seconds on a light shirt and three minutes on a dark shirt. Compared with a decoration method such as screen printing, the ink costs and production times are high. But factoring in the ability to print one garment with a photographic image offsets this difference when decorating short runs.
The growth of online companies offering one full-color garment has changed the face of the market. Today’s customer demands a quick turn and low minimum. At the same time, these large online companies have made the customer aware and comfortable with a higher price per garment as well. Most operators charge approximately $20.00 per piece for a single or small number of garments. A second side print commonly requires a minimum additional $5.00.
—Terry Combs, Equipment Zone