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Merchmakr: desktop screen printing shop's video poster

Merchmakr: Everything you need to screen print a T-shirt design line or band merch. Has an exposure unit and can do multicolor. Read more

Tampa, FL Product Design
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pledged of $30,000 goal
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This project was successfully funded on April 5, 2014.

Merchmakr: Everything you need to screen print a T-shirt design line or band merch. Has an exposure unit and can do multicolor.

Tampa, FL Product Design
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About this project

What is Merchmakr?

Merchmakr is a super compact screen printing system that includes everything you need to get started making your own T-shirts --except the shirts themselves. Unlike regular screen printing kits, it has an exposure unit for making your own screen stencils, and it does multicolor designs because it has our super top secret HotSwap registration system (patent pending). What is HotSwap? It’s a special clamp we designed to let you change out screens fast, along with a screen registration tab that helps line up the colors in your designs quickly. No other screen printing press in the whole world has it, because we invented it!

Please back our Kickstarter so we can make the tooling necessary to make this cost effective!


Why is it awesome?

Have you ever wished you could create your own T-shirts, but you have a tiny space to work in? Maybe you’re starting your design line out of your kitchen, or you’ve got a band and you want to create swag at your merch table. Do you wish you could take your print shop on the road and excite your fans, customers, or club members as they watch you create their merch for them? That’s why we created Merchmakr! It can do that.

The Merchmakr is small. It’s light and the screens are just the right size. It doesn’t need to be screwed down to the table, so you can use it anywhere. But I haven’t even gotten to the good part. It’s got HotSwap! With HotSwap, you can do multicolor. Yes, with this tiny little press, you can quickly change colors, screens, and even designs, and everything lines right up.

Maximum Print Size: 11” x 11”

Maximum Number of Colors in Graphics: Infinite

See how easy it is to do multicolor with HotSwap! We've added an update to give you an overview of how to burn your screens in register with HotSwap and the Merchmakr exposure unit!

What Can You Do With It?

So many great things! Get your start as a T-shirt designer with your own line of shirts. Bands can print their own merch. Upcycle thrift store clothes with your own art and express what makes you unique! Sell your own designs on sites like Etsy. Jump start a custom screen printing business of your own. Print promo t-shirts and uniforms for your business as you need them. Print shirts for your kid's little league, or help your kids to make their own shirts. Print and decorate shirts at parties, and everyone leaves with physical reminder of all the fun they had. Heck, if you are running your own Kickstarter, don't pay someone else to print your incentive T-shirts (everyone gives T-shirts away), print them yourself!

How Does This Kickstarter Work?

It's really easy. Just choose the reward tier you want, pledge that amount, and when the project is funded, we'll get that reward out to you as soon as it's made! Look at the column to the right for a full list of pledge levels and rewards. 

This isn't just a pre-order system. If you pledge to this Kickstarter it means that you have a direct hand in making Merchmakr a reality, and let's be honest, that makes you pretty awesome. We set the project to fund at $30,000 because that's the minimum we need to make Merchmakr happen at a reasonable price. We want to make it as easy and convenient as possible to get your ideas onto a shirt (or whatever else you can figure out how to print on!), but we also want it to be affordable.

The sooner we reach our goal, the better, because then we'll be able to start planning for better extras, and looking for ways to make your package even more awesome! 

Please read the "Add-Ons" section for information about how to upgrade your reward to include a la carte items such as extra screens, inks, and squeegees. You can change your reward tier level and add-ons at any time until the Kickstarter is completed. That means as we get moving, if we add a stretch goal that excites you, or you decide you really do want to add in a few more screens, you can always update your pledge to make sure that happens!

What Can You Get?

Merchmakr press

This is the hot red designer screen printing press we created so you can print T-shirts in your kitchen or at your merch booth, and then leave it on your coffee table for your guests to marvel over. It has the special HotSwap clamp that makes multicolor and multi-design printing amazing and easy.

Merchmakr Burning Unit

This is the compact exposure unit you use to turn your designs (printed on transparencies with your inkjet printer) into stencils on your merchmakr screens. It features our specially created digital timer to make exposing your screens a no-brainer. We've added an update to give an overview of how you burn screens in register with the Merchmakr HotSwap System.

Merchmakr screens

We created the smallest screens we could while still enabling you to do a pretty big graphic on your T-shirts (11” x 11”) Technically, you could cheat and go even a little bigger with your designs, and we’ll even show you how to do it. But for those who like to follow the rules (Ha! I kill myself…) it does what you can print on the transparencies with your inkjet printer. These screens also feature a special HotSwap tab that levels you up to doing multi-color prints and even changing out designs pretty darn quick. With HotSwap, you can do a bunch of different designs in a short time.

The Starter Supplies

The full pack comes with enough stuff to expose 20 screens and print 50-100 T-shirts, so you can hit the ground running! In addition to the Merchmakr press and exposure unit, you get the following:

  • 10 8.5" x 11" Transparency Films to print your designs on.
  • 1 155 mesh HotSwap-ready Screen
  • 1 12" Squeegee to get the design onto your shirts.
  • 8oz Black Water-Based Ink good for printing on lighter garments.
  • 8oz White Water-Based Ink good for printing on dark garments.
  • 1 Liquid Emulsion Kit with everything you need to coat your screens, including a scoop coater, emulsion, and emulsion remover to clean up when you're done!
  • Instructional Materials to teach you everything you need to know to print your first project. Our howto library will constantly grow to answer questions and provide tips, tricks and teach new concepts.

Tech Support

We may be experts in screen printing, but we understand that you probably are not. We built merchmakr so you don't have to be. Some merchmakr fans may run into snags, and we understand that. This Kickstarter is being run by DIY Screen Printing Supplies, an existing company that already offers tech support (currently FREE) to screen printers --even newbies. Besides the videos and "how to" materials you'll get with the merchmakr kit. Our support line 813-888-8555 will be available long after this event. We'll also offer merchmakr supplies moving forward as well.


We have a few items you can add as "a la carte" additions to whatever reward tier you've picked. You just have to add the correct amount to your pledge amount in order to receive your add-on purchase.  How do you do that? Follow these quick steps:

  • Click the big green "back this project" button
  • Enter the total amount you wish to pledge in the green box 
  • Select the reward tier of your choice 
  • Make sure you did your math correctly and include any international shipping, if applicable.

Need more screens? No problem. If you're doing multicolor, you'll want one for every color in your design. Just choose the mesh count you want below, and add the appropriate amount to your pledge. If you don't know what mesh count you need for the image you have in mind, feel free to ask!

  • +$25 110 mesh screen
  • +$50 110 mesh screen pre-burned with your artwork
  • +$27 155 mesh screen
  • +$52 155 mesh screen pre-burned with your artwork
  • +$28 200 mesh screen
  • +$53 200 mesh screen pre-burned with your artwork
  • +$30 305 mesh screen
  • +$55 305 mesh screen pre-burned with your artwork

You can never have too many squeegees! If you are planning on doing multicolor designs, you'll want one for every color in your design, so you're not constantly washing them off. These aren't thin, floppy, hard-to-use plastic squeegees. Our Merchmakr squeegees are professional-grade wooden handled squeegees with 70 durometer polyurethane blades. 

  • +$6 5" squeegee for left chest prints
  • +$15 12" squeegee for full-size prints

Water-Based Inks

The Merchmakr comes with enough ink to get you started, but if you're like us, you'll want more! Add +$20 for each pint (does up to 100 prints) of ink you want us to include with your Merchmakr, so you can turn all your fans into fan-addicts!

Available in the following colors: White, Spot Black, Columbia Blue, Peacock Blue, Reflex Blue, Chocolate Brown, Cool Gray, Apple Green, Pale Green, Orange, Violet Purple, Red 032, Drake Red, Rubine Red, Warm Red, Palamino Tan, Yellow, Metallic Silver, and Metallic Pale Gold.

Transparency Films

Ten 8.5" x 11" Transparency Films come with Merchmakr. Each color in each design will require a separate transparency for it. So 2 two-color designs will take 4 transparencies, provided they came out correctly the first time. If you would like additional transparencies they are available:

  • 10 pack of 8.5" x 11"     $11.99
  • 100 pack of 8.5"  11"    $59.00
  • 5 pack of 11" x 17"       $11.99
  • 100 pack of 11" x 17"   $110.00

What are we doing with the money?

The merchmakr system has a lot of custom parts. It is created specifically for the end-user, rather than just being a collection of stuff easy to supply. We custom designed the entire press from the ground up. We even invented the HotSwap, a custom screen printing head for quick changing screens, and a registration system to go along with it, so you can really bust out some merch. Most of the parts need either plastic injection molding (like the exposure unit), aluminum extrusion (like parts of the HotSwap head), or steel weld forms (like most of the Merchmakr press parts). When you back our Kickstarter, you're helping us bring the merchmakr to artists, musicians, and micro-entrepreneurs, like you! Please back this project, and get something you can't get anywhere else in the whole world.

Prototypes and Testing

We've been talking about Merchmakr for about four years now, but we didn't start the actual process of making it real until about a year ago. We've gone through an incredible number of prototypes and models already (true story, the first Merchmakr was made of LEGO). We've built and tested and rebuilt and refined the press to make it work exactly the way we want it to work. We eventually had to get a 3D Printer to produce various parts for testing and refinement, because the traditional fabrication processes were too slow. Once we did that, things sped up considerably! We went through three different versions of one part over the course of an afternoon.

It is important to remember that our current prototype is completely functional and ready for production (as seen in our intro video), but we may add features or modify it in the course of the production run. One important reason for modifications is feedback from our backers.

The original prototypes!
The original prototypes!

 The Lego prototype was designed to test the suitability of the screen and platen sizes and the overall dimensions of merchmakr. The electrical conduit prototype was used for testing the positioning of the springs with respect to the print head and also general portability.

Designing the exposure unit.
Designing the exposure unit.

The above prototypes were for testing the positioning and size of the exposure unit components, as well as fit to the merchmakr's docking bay base.

Once we knew the concepts were sound, Gary designed each part himself in Autodesk inventor.
Once we knew the concepts were sound, Gary designed each part himself in Autodesk inventor.

The above render is one of the later versions. One nice thing about Autodesk Inventor is that it allows you to animate the assemblies to check for collision detection.

We used a 3D Printer to create each piece of the head, and brought the HotSwap head to life!
We used a 3D Printer to create each piece of the head, and brought the HotSwap head to life!

Some of the parts had to have a 3D printer design in addition to a metal material design. Although the 3D printer design proved positioning and fit of parts, it failed stress tests when we tried to print with it. Basically, when we started using the prototype, it became angry with us and broke --a lot.

For fun, compare the parts in the above video with the images just above it. You can see that we have a different version of the guide pin assembly than what is in the photos. 

 True fact: the original name for merchmakr was "T-shirt Party," but we felt it was less of a market match. Some enthusiasts were upset by the change.

Timeline / Production Plan

Merchmakr is a complete design from the ground up. Very few of the parts are off the shelf. There are some basic hardware, like springs, nuts, and bolts, threaded rods, and "s" hooks, that we get from the local hardware store, but almost all of the parts are outsourced to custom manufacturers. The product assembly, light fabrication, kit building, pouring down of inks, and fulfillment will be done in house, since we regularly engage in those sorts of activities.  We wish we could have all the parts made in the United States, but unless we raised our funding goal much, much higher, we have to send some parts over-seas. We have picked several reputable companies to work with abroad, and have an excellent customs agent, logistics company, and product development coordinator we have experience working with. Below is a list of the various processes we are outsourcing for specific parts needed:

Plastic injection molding: Exposure Unit, adjustment wheel (featured in our video with the nut) (China)

Plastic injection molding: Scoop coater endcaps (part of the supplies kit)(Florida based plastics manufacturer)

Plastic Fabrication: Exposure Unit acrylic top, HotSwap Handle (China)

Extruded Aluminum: Scoop Coater (part of the screen coating kit included in the supplies), E-channel (Part of the HotSwap Clamp) (Tampa, Fl based aluminum extrusion house)

Metal Fabrication: Guide pin assembly (part of the HotSwap Clamp), Pivot Bracket (China)

Tube bending and metal fabrication: merchmakr base, platen arm, platen mount plate, and exposure unit docking bay (China)

Press Brake and punch: HotSwap main clamp assembly (Tampa based metal fabricator)

Laser Cutting: Pitch Yaw angles, Pivot Arm (China)

Wood Fabrication: Platens (we may make the platen from aluminum for a stretch goal) (Tampa based cabinet maker.)

Aluminum Tube Welding and fabric stretching: Screens (Made by a company in Sanford, Florida)

Circuit Boards: Exposure Unit controller (Made by a company in Sanford, Fl that worked with us on the prototype exposure unit.)

Supplies for the Kits: We regularly order and ship screen printing supplies daily. We have several regular chemicals, inks, and screen printing supply fabricators that we use throughout the United States --mostly in the Western Time Zones.

Phase 1: (Figuring out who wants what) We go through the list of people and stuff, and turn it into usable data. 1-2 weeks. 

Phase 2a: (Production Proofs) We’ve done many rounds of prototyping already, but there is one more round we need, where we have the molds, weld mounts, and and extrusion forms produced and then make the initial strike-offs to make sure they were done correctly. That will take 4-6 weeks depending on a few factors. 

Phase 2b: (Instructional Materials and Videos) We’ve made lots of them over the years, but we are re-shooting everything to be specific to merchmakr. We’ll be covering every step of the process, plus bonus videos if we meet certain stretch goals. This part of the production plan will be on-going for the rest of the project and beyond, but all basic “How to Use merchmakr” materials will be complete before the end of Phase 5. 

Phase 3: (Actual Production) Here is where the rubber meets the road. This is the part where plastics and metals are being melted and forced to do what we say. Then its cooled and finished and piled onto pallets so trucks can get it to us. 6-8 weeks. 

Phase 4: (Delivery) Trucks and boats are packed up with tons of stuff, and our logistics company pays attention to where it all is and when we’re supposed to get it. 1 - 2 weeks.

Phase 5: (Fulfillment) Here’s where we are sorting, pouring, printing, exposing, packing, calling, and shipping your stuff. 2-3 weeks

About the Team

Here at DIY Screen Printing Supplies, we've been helping everyone from a grandmother who makes shirts honoring her husband's military service to veteran screen printers with enormous companies for five years now. In that time, we've seen screen printing through the eyes of thousands of customers, and we've learned an incredible amount from helping them find ways to do the things they want to do. We opened a physical store almost two years ago in Tampa, Florida. We all keep a hand in the customer service side of things, because we never want to be out of touch with our customers.

Gary Jurman Gary's captain of the ship. He's been a screen printer for almost 30 years. He's taught tons of people to screen print in both the work environment, in classes, and through video tutorials. His primary skills are in screen printing, production, marketing, problem solving and technical support. He'll be the guy who designs the tutorials that come along with the merchmakr screen printing kits, and also the key presenter. Gary invented the merchmakr because he was dissatisfied with the "starter" screen printing kits on the market. The shoddy screen printing presses for beginners, lack of usable instructions, and poor advice available drove him nuts.

Chris Wilde Chris is our I.T. go to guy. His primary skills are in computer technology (he's a mac guy, btw), he speaks a variety of programming languages, is excellent in Photoshop and Illustrator, is our web developer and graphic designer, and runs the brick and mortar store for DIY Screen Printing Supplies. If you call us, he's the one most likely to answer the phone. He's been elbow deep in T-shirts and ink a great many times over the last ten years, and used to spend countless nights pulling a squeegee. He handles most screen printing tech support issues as well. What started as a part-time job during college has become an obsession.

Matthew Veley Matthew is our production and personnel manager, customer service star, and a handyman. When stuff breaks, Matt's the fixer guy. He also can screen print like a bat out of hell. When we need some guys to go and do some stuff, Matt figures out how to make that happen, and then assembles the posse. He will also be a key presenter in the video tutorials accompanying the merchmakr kits.

In addition, we already have a crew of lovable misfits who help us maintain our packing, shipping and manufacturing on a daily basis. They're used to meeting every challenge we give them.

Risks and challenges

We feel the biggest risk involved in this project is production delays. We’re pretty sure everything will be on time, but there are a few different manufacturers involved in this project, so there’s always a chance one will delay us.

This Kickstarter is a small company’s project, DIY Screen Printing Supplies 813-888-8555. We are based in Tampa, Florida and we have established clientele and a storefront where we can be hunted down. We feel that if you are unsatisfied with your pledge to us, all of our endeavors will suffer. Whatever challenges we face, we will meet them with hard work and gusto.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter


  • The cost of international shipping is ridiculous for sure, but to compound it, Kickstarter only gives us one option for shipping everywhere in the world. That means we have to figure worst case scenario. If you message me your address, I’ll get you a quote specific to your situation, and tell you how much to add to your pledge. It might save $100 or more.

    We've updated our shipping options by adding a Globetrotter tier to the rewards. If you are outside the US, that is the preferred tier for you to use.

    Last updated:
  • There are a huge number of differences between the two. Please see our blog post about it for a whole bunch more details:

    Last updated:
  • The inks that come with merchmakr are Matsui waterbased 301 W White and RC Spot Black. They are professional grade inks and they do need to be properly dried. Basically, the way that is done is that first they must dry to the touch, and then thy must be heated to 320 degrees F for 3 minutes. You can accomplish that with an iron, a heat press (for greater speed), or a conveyor dryer (if you are a pro). While they may slightly fade with washing (not much though), they should last the life of the garment.

    Last updated:
  • Definitely! We've sold screen printing supplies online since 2009, and we have a store you can visit if you're ever in Tampa! We'll be supporting merchmakr from here on out.

    Last updated:
  • There are a number of variables, but it could be hundreds or thousands with water-based inks on a post-exposed screen, and we've had a screen last through 20,000 prints with plastisol inks, so we're not sure the upper limit, there.

    Last updated:
  • With a proper dehazing maintenance routine, we've had screens last years with hundreds of cycles. If you do pop a hole or tear in your screen, it can be restretched with new mesh by us or a local restretcher.

    Last updated:


  • You selected
    Pledge $1 or more

    21 backers

    We thank you so much for supporting our project. We are so happy to have your support. We'll be doing a bunch of cool stuff, and we'll keep you updated.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $15 or more

    8 backers

    Get the T-shirt: Designed by a super-cool artist. Sport this fashion T and be the boss of all your friends. Have your name included on the credits page on and in the manual.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $99 or more

    0 backers

    Exposure Unit Only:
    Get the T-shirt and the Merchmakr exposure unit. This level doesn't include the Merchmakr press or the rest of the kit. It only includes the exposure unit piece and a T-shirt. Heck, if you don't use it to expose screens, you can use it as a really bright night light.

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    Yudu Lover Version: Get the T-shirt, and the Merchmakr press with HotSwap only. This level does not include the burning unit or supplies, but does include a blank 110 mesh screen. (You can use your Yudu to burn your screen, but it kind of takes the impact out of the HotSwap features).

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    Pledge $229 or more

    0 backers

    Broke Band Version: Get the T-shirt, and the Merchmakr press with HotSwap only. This level does not include the burning unit or supplies, but does include a 110 mesh screen burned with the 1 color graphic of your choice. You'll have to send us the art in a usable format, but we'll send you the specs. We'll even send you the film we used to make the screen. Get some of the ADD-ON supplies and take it on the road.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
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    Pledge $299 or more

    25 backers All gone!

    ***Early Bird Special 1*** Get the Merchmakr full package plus the T-shirt. Includes the whole kit with the press, supplies, and exposure unit.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $319 or more

    25 backers All gone!

    ***Early Bird Specia 2*** Get the Merchmakr full package plus the T-shirt. Includes the whole kit with the press, supplies, and exposure unit.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $339 or more

    29 backers Limited (21 left of 50)

    ***Early Bird Special 3*** Get the Merchmakr full package plus the T-shirt. Includes the whole kit with the press, supplies, and exposure unit.

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    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $349 or more

    17 backers

    The Big Deal: Get the Merchmakr full package plus the T-shirt. Includes the whole kit with the press, supplies, and exposure unit. We love that you love the merchmakr with HotSwap, and we'll get this puppy out to you ASAP! (Estimated: August 2014)

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    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $349 or more

    10 backers

    Globetrotter Complete Kit: Get the Merchmakr full package plus the T-shirt. Includes the whole kit with the press, supplies, and exposure unit. We love that you love the merchmakr with HotSwap, and we'll get this puppy out to you ASAP!

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $449 or more

    2 backers Limited (23 left of 25)

    Screen Printing Acolyte Package: Get the Merchmakr full package. Includes the whole kit with the press, supplies, and exposure unit. In addition, you come to Tampa (at your own expense), and along with up to five other Acolytes, Gary teaches you how to use the Merchmakr from start to finish, and as the grand finale, you print your own Merchmakr with HotSwap T-shirt. Then you take your Merchmakr home with you.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $999 or more

    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    T-shirt Party anywhere in FL! You throw a party and bring a bunch of blank T-shirts. We show up at the party (make arrangements in advance and must not conflict with our calender) with a screen burned with the 1 color graphic of your choice (must be pre-approved), and we help all your friends print their very own T-shirts. (Maximum of 4 hours) Then we leave your Merchmakr kit (included) at the party for your future enjoyment.

    Estimated delivery:

Funding period

- (30 days)