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Different Types Of T-shirt Printing Methods

Types of Screen Printing

Types of Screen Printing

It is important to know the type of print you would want on a T-Shirt before printing them. A couple of things you should consider are the quality of the print, cost, and the number of shirts you would be printing on. The two most common types of printing methods we always hear about are screen printing and heat press methods.

Customers know what they want, and quite a number of them will be able to detect your printing method in a mere glance. In building a brand or business, you may be luck to find out the preferences of your customers. Feedback is very important and you should be keen on getting this after each purchase.

In the beginning, you may want to test the waters. Try out different printing methods and see which ones move better. Some may fail miserably, but what is success without failure? You may also be surprised that some print methods may be preferred in some parts of the world than in others. Bad reviews are bad for business so you need to be savvy with your customers.

Now let’s delve deeper.

Here are the 5 different printing methods:

Screen Printing

It is the most common with the pros. Another name for this design is silkscreen printing.

For this method to work, you will need a stencil and a nylon mesh. You set up the stencil, which is held by the nylon mesh. A water-proof material will block the negative space that you want to design.

The negative space is the only part permeable for the dye. Ink is then flooded into the screen onto your T-Shirt or another surface.

The screen printing method is ideal for printing high-quality t-shirt designs because it guarantees the ultimate replication of the design. The screen printing method gives a shirt a unique, cute and impressive look that customers will love.

Many branding companies use the screen printing method for mass production of t-shirt designs for various businesses. If you want a single or unique design for yourself, it may be impossible. There is normally a minimum order quantity some companies have, and would not print a single shirt because it takes resources to create the stencils.

This method is suited for one color per screen. It is however not ideal for super complex multi-color designs.

Direct To Garments (DTG)

Like the screen printing method, it is also popular among hobbyists. It easy to do but it will require knowledge and skills if you are not going to get professional help. All you need for it to work is a textile printer and ink.

DTG works like a paper printer in the office. The only difference is that in this case, the ink is going to the fabric. You first need to upload the design to the computer, which then creates uniqueness and creativity.

The Direct To Garment method is excellent for printing out super-complex designs. It gives a soft feel on the hands when you touch the final design. The ink used doesn’t create thick extra layers on the shirt, because it is thin.

However, it has one problem. You can end up with a low-resolution design with dot patterns if you have an inferior textile printer. You can’t use this method to create a design for dark fabric, because the ink is thin and it wouldn’t look crisp.

DTG is least durable and the fabric may fade in a year or less.

Dye Sublimation


Dye sublimation works well on light shirts or fabrics. It costs to produce a dye-sub but in the end, the customer ends up with a professionally done shirt by experts.

To bring out the best results in this method, you need to have deep knowledge of dye sublimation. Dye sublimation is perfect for printing polyester like cream fabrics. They are unforgiving when you bring cotton fabric to the scene.

You will need a special type of dye which is liquid. The liquid dries up when it meets the polyester fabric. When it has dried well, it solidifies on the fabric, then you can apply heat and pressure for sublimation to take place.

When the solid fabric is exposed to heat and pressure it turns into a gas. The fabric molecules then expand and the gas sips between the gap that appears in the cloth. In the end, the molecules contract again when you remove the heat.

Dye sublimation is excellent for printing polyester shirts with minimal enduring designs. Shirt done through sublimation are durable and looks cute.

Lewis Selby Clothing has some really amazing TShirts with awesome prints. Grab one for yourself!

Heat Press Printing

If you have small orders of shirts, it is economical to use heat press printing. It saves you resources and time.

This method incorporates a design printed on a special paper called transfer paper. Here is how it works.

You take a shirt, press it on the best heat transfer vinyl, then apply heat and pressure. A more similar approach like the dye sublimation with slight differences. You do the process until the heat softens the dye on the paper until it gets beneath the cloth.

After that, you take the glossy paper transfer and strip off the dye which leaves you with the intended design on the shirt.

If you are working with super complex designs, then heat and press method is ideal for you. However, it won’t work well with dark fabrics because of its translucent dye.

Shirts printed through heat press printing are durable.

Vinyl Cutting

In this method, special soft clothing is cut into shapes or designs, then transferred to a shirt. Then these special designs are then placed onto the t-shirt using the heat press method.

With this method, you can print one-off designs and even produce them in large numbers. It is the best alternative for printing multiple garment types.

However, it suffers from one thing: They are letter-types parts that you can’t use with it. T-shirt printed through vinyl cutting are durable.

The vinyl cutting machine gives you the option of using different layers to print different colors of a design. Vinyl cutting is used in designing sportswear, slogan or small graphics.

In Conclusion:

Feedback is key! Know what your audience appreciates. Is it within their budget? Does the type of print properly define your brand? You may want to put out a quick survey for your customers to get a little more information on how your T-Shirts are doing.

Quick Sales Tip: When people order more of a particular design or T-Shirt color or texture, take notes. They aren’t ordering that particular item for the fun of it.

So there you have it, the 5 different printing methods for your amazing t-shirt designs. Next time you place an order for your designs to be printed, you know exactly which works best for you and your budget 😉

Share this article with your friends and family! They’ll thank you later.

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