How to Save Money While Using Your Yudu Machine
I run a small clothing line on the side out of my home. I have been doing it for years now and it is a wonderful hobby that I hope one day will expand into a steady business. Until I reach a point where I feel I am ready to make the leap and start purchasing professional screen printing equipment though, I will always be on the lookout for printing alternatives. Recently, I was fortunate enough to come across the Yudu personal screen printer while perusing the isles at my local Michaels craft store.
At first glance, it looks perfect! Light table? Check. Mesh screen and T-shirt platen? Yup. Squeegee and paint? Got it. Transparencies and emulsion? All right! Seemingly everything you would need to get started all for around $175-$300 (depending on where/when you got it.) I lucked out and got mine on super sale for about $180 total. Once I got it, I went through the whole process and successfully produced a screen ready to print on shirts. For what you pay, it is a pretty decent unit. The one thing that caught me off guard was the cost of additional materials to keep producing said screens.
Provocraft (the makers of the Yudu machine) hit you pretty hard when it comes to getting replacement/additional items. You already blew a few hundred to get the machine; at least it came with enough stuff to get you going right? Well, yes and no. If by "get you going" you mean make one, count them, one screen and enough ink to print a few shirts, then sure. You are off to a grand start.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with alternatives and money saving options to use in conjunction with the Yudu machine. Provocraft likes to get you where it hurts: ink, emulsion and transparencies. All three are equally important and all three are just as expensive!
INK - Provocraft sells the ink in packs and individually. They come in 3oz bottles and will set you back about $10 for one, and $25 for the 3-packs. So what's the alternative? Use a different brand! My personal preference is Speed Ball screen printing ink. They have 8oz, 16oz, and 32oz jars available in a pretty wide range of colors and finishes. Depending on where you get them, an 8oz jar will run about $6-$8 and the 32oz can be found for around $20-$25. This has saved me a GRIP of money and I highly recommend switching inks.
EMULSION - Provocraft sell packs of emulsion at about 20 bucks a pop. For anything else, I probably wouldn't fret about $20, but you get the shaft pretty good on this one. Your $20 gets you a whopping two, count them two, sheets of emulsion film. If you are making a large image, then one whole sheet is gone. If it is your first time using the Yudu machine, there is a bit of learning curve when it comes to applying the emulsion sheet to the screen. I, like most, completely mess up the first application and have to break out sheet number two before I know it. Just like that, the entire pack is gone and it’s time to buy a new one. That $20 can add up pretty quickly!
*Money saving tid-bit: if you are burning an image that is relatively small, cut the emulsion! You don't have to use the entire sheet for a design that uses 1/10th of the emulsion sheet. That itself will save you in the long run.
Amazon has become a dear friend when looking for lower price options. The packs can be found there for $10-$19. If you are still looking for a different method entirely though, I suggest either buying a roll of capillary film (emulsion) or going the liquid route. A 26"x30" roll of film will run about $125, but you can do SO much with it. Speedball also offers a liquid photo emulsion kit (about $20) and comes with most of what you need. Either alternative will save you time and frustration in the end.
TRANSPARENCIES – These little guys run about $10 for a pack of 5 transparencies. Normally I wouldn’t complain too much, but when I have to use my own printer ink for these things as well, I get a little irritated. So what other option did I have? The most obvious thing that came to mind was KINKO’S! You can go to any Kinko’s with a printing station and give them the file with the image you want to print. They will print a black and white transparency for you. What does that cost? Oh, about $0.20 each!
There, of course, are more options you can explore when it comes to finding Yudu products and alternatives. Amazon is a great place for finding Yudu products if you feel more comfortable using their stuff. A lot of the basic screen printing materials (ink, liquid emulsion, etc) can be found at your local art supply store.
Hopefully this will aid in saving you at least a little something here and there.