How Much Does It Cost to Start a Printing Business? A Detailed Guide

As an entrepreneurship consultant, I‘ve helped many small business owners plan and budget for starting a printing company. Based on my experience, I‘ve put together this comprehensive guide on the costs involved, along with tips to help you successfully launch your startup.

Average Startup Costs

The total costs to start a printing business typically range from $30,000 to $150,000 depending on the equipment, staff, and scale of operations.

Equipment makes up the largest portion of startup costs, from $10,000 for a basic digital printer up to $500,000 for an industrial offset press. Leasing equipment can reduce upfront costs.

Commercial space will cost $1,500 to $4,000 per month depending on size and location. Any buildout and renovations can run $10 to $100 per square foot.

Initial inventory and supplies like paper, plates, ink will require $5,000 to $20,000 to stock up on essentials.

Here‘s a breakdown of average startup costs:

Category Cost
Printing Equipment $10,000 – $500,000
Commercial Lease $1,500 – $4,000/month
Buildout/Renovations $10 – $100/sq.ft
Initial Inventory $5,000 – $20,000
Employees $30,000+
Insurance $1,000 – $2,000/month
Licenses & Permits $50 – $500
Marketing $5,000+
Total $30,000 – $150,000+

As you draft your business plan, research precise costs in your area to plug into your startup budget. Leasing equipment and starting small can reduce initial outlays.

Printing Equipment Cost Factors

The printing equipment you choose will be a major cost consideration. Here are the average price ranges for common types:

Digital Printers

  • Small format (11" x 17"): $2,000 – $7,500
  • Mid-size (13" x 19" to 17” x 22”): $10,000 – $50,000
  • Large format (up to 60" wide): $20,000 – $150,000

Offset Presses

  • Small format (20” x 29”): $30,000 – $75,000
  • Half-size (20” x 29”): $50,000 – $150,000
  • Full-size (40” x 29”): $100,000 – $500,000

Screen Printing

  • Manual press: $2,000 – $10,000
  • Automatic press: $12,000 – $75,000

Wide Format Printers

  • Solvent ink: $10,000 – $36,000
  • UV ink: $16,000 – $50,000
  • Dye sublimation: $8,000 – $30,000

Binding/Finishing Equipment

  • Collator: $4,000 – $10,000
  • Booklet maker: $12,000 – $26,000
  • Laminator: $3,000 – $8,000

Used equipment can offer big savings, but may require more maintenance. Leasing major equipment can reduce large upfront costs as well.

Facility Cost Considerations

Your physical facility houses all printing activities and impacts startup costs and ongoing expenses.


Commercial lease rates average $5 to $25 per sq.ft monthly for industrial space. A 1,500 sq.ft startup space could cost $7,500 to $37,500 per month in total rent and fees in expensive areas.


First-time tenant improvements like demolition, new lighting, bathrooms, moldings, can range from $10 to $100+ per sq.ft, with costs quickly climbing above $50K.


Electricity, gas, water, waste fees in commercial spaces often run $1.50 – $2.50+ per sq.ft monthly. A 1,500 sq.ft facility could incur $2,500+ in monthly utilities.

Carefully evaluate all lease terms and get professional buildout estimates to avoid major hidden costs. Consider economical warehousing space to save on rent and renovations.

Staffing, Legal and Admin Costs

Running a compliant, legal business requires professional services and staffing:

  • Employees – Staffing levels vary, but plan for $40,000+ in annual wages and benefits per employee.
  • Insurance – General liability, property, workers comp. premiums range from $1,000 to $1,500 monthly for most printers.
  • Legal fees – Attorneys charge around $250 per hour to assist with business formation, compliance, contracts.
  • Accounting – Bookkeeping and payroll services range from $200 to $500+ per month.

Shop insurance quotes, use legal templates when possible, and take advantage of free business resources to save costs.

Marketing Expenses

Promoting your new printing business is crucial for success. Here are average costs for essential marketing activities:

  • Website$2,000+ for a professional site with e-commerce capabilities
  • Branding – Logos, signs, branded items from $1,000 – $5,000
  • Advertising – Google, Facebook, print ads $500 – $5,000+ per month
  • Events – Budget $2,000+ for a launch party, trade show fees
  • Materials – Brochures, business cards, postcards $500 – $2,000
  • Promotions – Coupons, giveaways, discounts to build awareness

Plan for $5,000 – $10,000 in initial marketing costs during the crucial startup phase. Ongoing marketing should account for 5-10% of your projected revenue.

Final Tips & Next Steps

With substantial startup costs, conducting in-depth research and consulting business advisors is highly recommended before launching your printing company. Some final tips:

  • Create a detailed business plan with projected income and expenses
  • Seek estimates from contractors on all renovation work
  • Research permit/license requirements in your state
  • Compare multiple equipment vendors and financing options
  • Learn industry best practices from printing associations

Starting a profitable printing business takes dedication, hard work, and careful planning. But by understanding the costs involved and budgeting accordingly, you can set your new company up for success. Reach out if you need any guidance!