So you want to put a design on a shirt? You’ve come to the right source.
There are two main options: digital printing and screen printing. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and it might be easy to just pick one and run with it. Don’t.
Choosing between digital and screen printing is so much more than that!
What’s the difference?
Here’s the rule at large: screen printing is better for large, simple designs that don't require intricate amounts of detail.
✅The ink is applied directly to the shirt through a stencil, so it's easy to make sure the design is correctly aligned.
✅Plus, screen printing can be done on almost any kind of fabric, including t-shirts, jackets, and even canvas shoes.
✅However, screen printing is less suited for complex designs or small orders of garments.
On the other hand, digital printing is ideal for more intricate designs or orders of just a few shirts.
✅The design is first printed onto transfer paper and then transferred to the shirt using heat.
✅Digital printing produces a much higher quality image.
✅It can be expensive if you need a large amount. Great for small, custom orders.
So, when deciding how to print your next t-shirt design, consider both digital and screen printing to find the best option for your needs.
How does screen printing work?
The process of screen printing, or silkscreen, is fascinating because it creates an image on paper by applying ink to a stencil. The printer then transfers this design onto the fabric with great precision, which requires special skills and knowledge about how each piece should look when completed correctly!
Screen printing is a versatile printing technique that can be used on various surfaces, including paper, glass, metal, and plastic. And, it's not just for t-shirts or fabrics! Screen printing makes posters, ceramics, and even fine art prints pop. Why? Because of the color matching precision.
You can get any color you need with screen printing! That includes colors outside CMYK’s range and super-saturated hues. For precision matching capability, there's no contest - it beats all other methods by far. Screen printing also used Pantone colors to ensure your brand fits in with your logo colors. This is essential if you want a consistent look across all marketing materials, like shirts or hats.
So, how does screen printing work?
- First, a screen is placed over the surface to be printed on. Then, using a squeegee, ink is pushed through the screen onto the surface below.
- The screen blocks out everything except for the design's negative space, so whatever color you are printing with will be transferred to the surface in the shape of your design.
Finally, the screen is removed and the design is complete!
How does digital printing work?
Digital printing, or direct-to-garment printing, has quickly become one of the most popular methods for printing on clothing because it's so quick and versatile! You can have your logo or design printed directly onto any fabric with no need to go back and forth with design alterations. Our clients choose digital printing when they have a finalized image ready to go; which saves time in processing orders. Unlike screen printing, there's no need to worry about colors running or bleeding when you use digital printing. Digital printing blends hues, like gradients, with perfection.
But how does digital printing get the job done? In a nutshell, digital printing uses an image file to create prints.
- The digital printing process begins with a digital file, which is sent to a printer that uses inkjet technology to print the image onto the garment.
The prints are created by depositing tiny droplets of ink onto the paper or substrate. The droplets are controlled by tiny nozzles that are located in the print head. By varying the size and spacing of the droplets, digital printers create a wide range of colors and tones.
Just a few short years ago, if you wanted to print something in color, you were pretty much limited to using a four-color process. But now, with digital printing, you can print up to six colors.
And that's not even counting all the different shades of gray that digital printers can achieve. But the advantage of digital printing, besides the convenience aspect, is in the fine details - literally!
This is in contrast to screen printing, which calls for a manual inspection during milestones, digital printing gets the minute details like lines, text, and all the nooks and crannies, easily. As a result, digital printing is the superior choice for printing products that require a high level of detail.
How much will it cost?
One of the most important choices between digital printing and screen printing is cost comparison. Both have their own set of pros and cons, and the right choice for you will depend on your specific needs and budget.
Proper printer set-up costs anywhere from $20,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Most professional-grade equipment falls within this range and it's important for any business owner or manager who wants their work done right the first time around with efficiency in mind to research which method works best.
In general, screen printing is a more expensive option (an average of $7 per unit to print), but it also offers more advantages in terms of quality and durability.
Digital printing is less expensive ($1-3 per unit to print) but is more limited to creating vintage designs and special effects.
Ultimately, if you take the time to compare the costs of both, you’ll find the best option for your needs when you consult one of our team members.
How do you pick between printing methods?
With its origins in the ancient dynasty era, screen printing is an art form. It’s also a way to show off your originality and design skills. If you’re in the mood to create a unique design and one-of-a-kind, you can screen print an existing design onto a shirt.
To create designs that are vibrant (yes, glitter included!) and allow for exact Pantone color matching, screen printing is the way to go. It’s a great choice for anyone who wants to create a custom shirt that is sure to turn heads and doesn’t mind the extra time it takes for quality control between each step.
On the other hand, digital printing is convenient because no screens, no films, and no clean-up are required. This makes digital printing an extremely efficient option for small businesses or anyone looking to print custom garments quickly and with no fuss. As a less expensive option compared to the former, digital printing also works best for those looking for a lightweight feel to their garments.
What are the next steps?
Heads up! You're about to discover the little-known secret to getting your custom garments, whether screen or digital, printed perfectly, every. single. time.
We’re called Real Thread for a reason - it’s because our team consists of real people that love what they do.
We’re a custom printing service for people who demand authenticity. We print on high-quality garments using precision and passion, so you can be confident your finished product will look (and feel) amazing!
If you’re on the fence between the two, we also offer a wide range of customizations to make sure your garments are truly one-of-a-kind. From unique fonts and colors to soft fabrics and patterns, we're ready to create what you always envisioned.