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A Comparison of Screen and Digital Printing

The tech advancement in the last several years has greatly benefited the printing industry, allowing us to print designs with ease and faster than ever before. Also, the new applications and techniques differ significantly from the iron transfers that most people think about when it comes to embedding an image on a t-shirt.

Screen Printing Defined

Screen printing is a more conventional technique that is done by hand. It has existed for hundreds of years but it has evolved from the initial silk screen stencil printing process that was introduced in the UK back in 1907.

Here’s a quick rundown of the process:

  1. A stencil is created- This step involves creating a stencil and using it to apply various layers of ink to the clothing material that you want your design to be featured on. If your image or design has multiple colours, then each one is applied using a different stencil in order to create the layer and ultimately the desired results.
  2. Ink layers are applied over stencils- Screen prints provide higher vibrancy in terms of colour as the hand application of inks tends to create larger build up. This simply means that more ink is utilised which leads to more vibrancy. Screen printing can ideally produce bigger quantities and so, it is an excellent option for those who need a huge batch of personalised clothing for a giveaway or event.
  3. Varying stencils are utilised to build up the colour as well as the design.

Digital Printing Defined

Digital printing is a technique that was picked up in the US back in the 90s and has evolved from there. As the name suggests, it is done with the help of a computer, which processes your design and prints it directly on your clothing material.

It is quicker compared to screen printing, but you tend to lose some colour vibrancy. That’s because the technique utilises CMYK colours, which are mixed in order to mimic a certain shade.

  1. A computer is utilised to create or select the image
    Digital printing is ideal for people who want every single detail to appear on their artwork and prints. It’s ideally possible to create photographic prints, as the process involves a computer and a high-quality inkjet printer to apply the design on the material.
  2. A huge inkjet printer applies the artwork on clothing material
    To ensure that the quality level stays high, this technique is only viable for smaller batches. This makes it ideal for uniform printing or maybe racing event clothing where you want to promote a product or need personalisation.

In this section, we are going to delve further and take a look at both the pros and cons of each technique.

Garments that Personalised and Printed can add your logo to:

Screen Printing Pros

  1. It can be added to literally any material including nylon, polyester, cotton, etc.
  2. It has greater colour vibrancy
  3. It can handle huge batches of print orders
  4. The design transfer is subtle. More often than not, you can’t feel the printed design on the clothing.

Screen Printing Cons

  1. It is a complex process and needs proper training to perfect
  2. It’s not as cost-efficient as digital printing because it needs human interaction and more of a set-up.
  3. Even though it’s capable of producing huge quantities, it’s quite laborious.
  4. Results to loss of detail as the ink spreads on the material.

The Pros & Cons of Digital Printing

Digital Printing Pros

  1. Offers incredible visible detail, making it perfect for intricate artworks or designs
  2. It is relatively easy to grasp and does not require any special training
  3. Compared to screen printing, it is easier to set up and run. This means it’s a more affordable option for customers as well.

Digital Printing Cons

  1. Compared to screen prints, the colours are not as vibrant
  2. It needs high-resolution images in order to capture details properly. So, if your design is not high-quality enough, you’ll get a substandard result.
  3. The technique is quite limited and is only ideal for cotton materials.

Apparel Printing Techniques

Below is a rundown of the common printing techniques out there. This will help you choose the one that fits your needs.

Screen Printing

As mentioned earlier, this is a more traditional technique that’s tried and tested in delivering vibrant colours. Here, the ink is applied directly through a screen onto your apparel. It’s excellent for those who want vivid colours and want to print huge batches.

Screen Transfer Printing

This one involves directly applying colour through a screen onto a transfer paper. It is ideal for sophisticated designs and large quantities as well.

Vinyl Printing

This technique involves utilising a device that cuts out the design into a vinyl sheet. It’s then heated and sealed on the clothing material.

Direct to Garment Printing (DTG)

This one utilises a high-quality inkjet printer to transfer your artwork directly on the clothing material.

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