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Print-on-demand has become a booming business as online retailers increasingly cater to shopping behaviors that demand personalized, fast and easy services. According to latest statistics, the global digital printing market size was valued at USD 77.6 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 99.6 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 4.8%. It is expected to witness huge growth over the forecast period owing to the growing demand for digital printing technology across the globe.

For companies looking to enter the print on demand business, the important question is – how much does it cost to open/start/launch a print on demand business? This post will walk you through the startup expenses you will need to consider when entering this business.

start-up costs

Establishing a print-on-demand business, such as a t-shirt printing shop, involves upfront costs. These costs typically include printing equipment, space for an office and/or warehouse, computer equipment and software, marketing materials, production equipment and supplies, shipping equipment and supplies and inventory for sales.

Advertising and promotion can also make up a large portion of start-up costs, as well as labor requirements for the start-up period.

Article Cost range (USD)
printing equipment ,000 – ,000
Space for office / warehouse 0 – ,000
Computer equipment and software ,000 – ,000
Promotional material 0 – ,000
Production materials and supplies 0 – ,000
Shipping materials and supplies 0 – ,000
Sales inventory 0 – ,000
Advertising and promotion 0 – ,000
Work for the start-up period ,000 – ,000
Total ,200 – ,000

printing equipment

Having the right printing equipment is essential to start your print-on-demand business. The latest 2019 statistics show that the cost of commercial printing equipment has a wide range, depending on the type and complexity of the job. For the production of t-shirts or any type of clothing, you probably spend somewhere between ,000 – ,000 . For netting and digital printing, the cost can range from ,500 to over 0,000 . Additionally, you may need to invest in software maintenance, training, and equipment.

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For digital print garments and other textiles, you will need to invest in a DTG printer or direct to garment printer. Depending on the capabilities and quality of the printer, you can expect to pay anywhere from ,000 to ,000 for such a printer. Other related equipment, such as Flash Cure, automatic cleaning systems, mowers and conveyors, can increase the cost. Digitizing and screen processing software can also increase the cost of the initial investment.

The cost of offset printing depends on the size of the press and the complexity of the job. For a basic printing operation with manual or semi-automatic presses, the cost of a 4 or 5 color press can range from 0,000 to over 0,000 . Additional machinery such as folders, guillotines, and other finishing equipment can easily add tens of thousands of dollars more to the cost. If you plan to print items that require specialized equipment, such as tickets and plastic products, you will also need to invest in the appropriate machinery, which can add significantly to your business start-up costs.

Finally, any business should also be prepared to accommodate regular maintenance costs, as well as technician and operator training. When it comes to training, online education and practical advice from printers and technicians can help you learn the ropes quickly and efficiently, at a lower cost than hiring an in-house or outsourced professional.

Space for office / warehouse

Finding a suitable space for an office or warehouse for a print on demand business is very essential for a smooth running operation. Depending on the size and scale of the business, office or warehouse space requirements will vary. The space rental budget, along with other related costs, should be included in the overall business launch plan.

According to Statista, as of June 2020, the average industrial real estate rent index in the United States was 8.18, compared to 2.39 in June 2019. To be competitive, some businesses may choose to charge a slightly lower rent for warehouse or office space. The size of the office or warehouse space will also determine the cost. Small businesses with limited production can manage with offices or warehouses that are 4,000 to 6,000 square feet, but larger businesses may require up to 15,000 to 20,000 square feet of space.

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Additional costs to consider include fire insurance costs, taxes, utility or equipment costs, or any other installation-related expenses that may be involved. Additionally, costs for hiring staff, purchasing machinery, printing and shipping supplies, and materials should also be considered.

Computer equipment and software

If you’re planning to open a print-on-demand business, you’ll need the right equipment and software to get your business off the ground. Your budget should include the purchase or rental of a computer, a large format printer, a software package for your design needs and any other equipment you feel is necessary for your printing business.

A basic high-end workstation could cost between ,000 and ,000. A printer used for large format printing with solvent inks could cost you between ,000 and ,000. You will also need specialized software to help you run your business as well as the tools needed for your designs. Software packages, including graphics, layout, and design tools, could cost up to ,500.

In addition to basic computer equipment, you’ll need to consider the cost of shop furniture, such as table and printer stands, counters, printers, and even shelving. This type of furniture could make you go from ,000 to ,000 and more. Additional parts include racks, vendors, and storage for paper, inks, and supplies.

Don’t forget to factor in the cost of maintenance and supplies that come with running a print-on-demand business.Although the initial costs may seem high, the benefit of owning specialized equipment for an on-demand business can outweigh the price if you are a savvy and efficient printer.

Promotional material

When starting a print-on-demand business, marketing materials are an essential part of getting your business started. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, the average start-up cost allocated to marketing materials is ,580 USD. This cost can vary depending on the size and scope of your business, but these materials are paramount to grabbing the attention of potential customers.

Some of the marketing materials you should consider investing in include:

  • Business cards – 0 USD
  • Website 0 – ,500 USD
  • Panels 0 – ,500 USD
  • Posters USD per piece
  • Flyers and brochures – 0 USD
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Many of the marketing materials you need to launch your business can be printed in-house if your business is equipped with the necessary printing technology. However, you may need to outsource large projects or projects that require specific printing processes. This could increase your costs, however, outsourcing is a great way to save on labor costs if your in-house employees are already stretched.

The more marketing materials you launch, the more traction your print business is likely to gain. Look for affordable options when creating your materials and be sure to research the various printing companies. Additionally, make sure the materials you create accurately represent your company’s design ethos and style.

Production materials and supplies

Starting a new print-on-demand responsibility requires you to acquire certain production materials and supplies in order to produce your product. This could include the type of paper with different textures and weights, inks, coatings, foils, laminates, tapes, adhesives, and equipment such as cutting and folding machines.

Depending on the size and complexity of your business, the cost of these production materials can range from cheap to extremely expensive. On average, a set of basic supplies can cost between ,000 and ,000 , depending on the production techniques and materials chosen.

For example, Ink costs around 0 per gallon, while specialty paper ranges from to 0 per sheet. Sheets and laminates will cost you anywhere from to per linear foot. Based on a 2019 study, the average cost of these materials is around 20 .

It’s important to remember to factor in the cost of equipment and labor, as these materials will need to be acquired, installed, and regularly maintained over the life of your business. This cost could be anywhere from ,000 – ,000 .

In order to reduce your costs, it is also important to think carefully about the size and scale of your business operations and the amount of stock of supplies and equipment you will need initially and on a regular basis. Don’t forget to determine discounts and fixed price agreements with your suppliers to save money where possible.

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Shipping materials and supplies

When starting a print-on-demand business, the cost of shipping materials and supplies should not be underestimated. This cost includes items such as empty media including paper or fabric, printing supplies such as inks and toner, and packaging materials. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average cost of these materials rose about 2.4% in 2019, rising to an average of .81 per hour.

Due to their durable nature, many companies make their own shipping materials and supplies, such as cardboard boxes and envelopes to hold mailers and cards. For companies that invest in their own materials, the cost of supplies can increase significantly. It’s important to take a look at lifetime costs versus the initial setup cost of shipping materials.

The cost of shipping materials and supplies may also increase with the increased cost of transportation. Shipping costs can be significantly reduced by shopping and working with a reliable supplier who can provide the best rates. It is also important to consider current safety regulations in place, such as those surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, as they may have an effect on the pricing of shipping materials and supplies.

Sales inventory

When starting a print-on-demand business, one of the most important costs to consider is your inventory to sell. This includes equipment needed for printing, materials for customizing items, and any other supplies needed. The amount needed will vary depending on your specific business, but for a basic understanding, a professional estimate for a startup print-on-demand business is between ,000 and ,000.

Printing Equipment – Prices vary depending on the type, quality, size and model of printing equipment needed. A commercial-grade printer such as an Epson Surecolor P9500 series sells for around ,000, while a desktop sublimation printer such as an EPSON Expression ET-2750 starts at around 0.

Materials – The cost of materials such as inks, paper, fabrics, substrates and other supplies may vary depending on the size of your order and the quality of the materials.

  • Inks – The cost of inks can vary greatly depending on the manufacturer and type. A liter of toner for a laser printer can cost around 0, while 16 ounces of dye-based ink can cost around .
  • Fabrics – Depending on the quality and size of the fabric, costs can range from to per yard.
  • Paper – Prices can vary from approximately 15 to 50 cents per sheet, depending on the grade, size and type of paper.
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Customization – Depending on the type of product customization, there may be additional costs such as software licenses. These can vary between and ,000 depending on the needs of the business.

Advertising and promotion

Advertising and promotion are essential for any business, especially when launching a new printing service. It’s important to get the marketing right to make sure your business is seen by the right people, otherwise you may risk not getting a return on your investment.

The cost of promoting a printing business varies depending on the platforms you choose to advertise on. For example, investing in digital media such as Google Adwords, Facebook and Twitter is on the whole cheaper than other mediums such as print and radio. In 2020, the average amount spent on online advertising was ,631 for businesses with up to million in revenue. Small businesses spent an average of ,117 on online advertising.

In general, businesses can expect to spend the following amounts on digital advertising:

  • Google: minimum budget of to per day
  • Facebook: minimum budget of to per day
  • Instagram: minimum budget of to per day

You can also consider investing in traditional advertising, such as radio or TV ads. The cost of radio and TV advertising depends on the size of the market, how often the ads are played and how long the spot lasts. The cost of television advertising can vary from 0 to ,000 per period.

In addition to advertising and promotion, it is important to remember that creating a comprehensive marketing strategy for your printing business might require additional costs for other items such as website hosting, email marketing software and even marketing materials.

Work for the start-up period

When starting a business, labor cost is one of the most important considerations. For a print-on-demand business, you will need to budget for the labor costs associated with launching a successful operation.

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When considering labor costs for your print-on-demand business, consider the number of people you need to hire and the amount of salaries for each role. Have a good understanding of the roles you need in your company and the average salary for those roles. The latest statistics show that the average salary of a print tech in the United States is .75 per hour , a sales representative is ,000 per year and a lead press operator is ,530 per year. .

You should also consider the training and learning time required, including training and development courses, seminars and workshops. Teaching your essential skills and essential business practices can help build your team and your business for success. There are a range of costs associated with this, depending on the course and whether you hire an outside tutor or instructor. Expect to pay several thousand US dollars for such training.

Additionally, you may need to allocate salary costs for some pre-startup activities. This could include developing your business plan and budget, creating a website, researching the market and competitors, and creating promotional materials. You might consider hiring a specialized contractor or freelancer for these tasks, which would cost you -0 per hour .

Finally, consider that you will have to pay for insurance for any staff you employ. This could take the form of medical benefits, life insurance, disability insurance and more. Group health insurance has an average monthly premium of 9 per enrollment in 2019.


The total cost of starting a print on demand business depends on various factors such as the printing equipment you invest in, office/warehouse space, IT equipment and software, hardware materials, production materials and supplies, shipping materials and supplies, inventory for Sales, advertising and promotions, and work during the start-up period. Although the upfront costs can be significant, the potential benefits and long-term investment returns are attractive.

The cost of opening a print on demand business can be anywhere between ,000 – ,000 depending on the size of the business and its inputs. With a well-executed plan, you can reap a profitable return on investment over an extended period. It is essential to plan and budget for these expenses before launching your business.