We constantly get inquiries asking what the difference is between screen printing and digital t-shirt printing. So we put together a short video to explain the differences between the two methods.
If you would like to see a video of the digital t-shirt printer in action just check out this post
This video talks about the differences between screen printing and direct to garment digital t-shirt printing. Screen printing is the industry standard method of the two and was invented by the Chinese. It is applied by creating a stenciled design on a mesh screen, which is then placed on top of the shirt. The ink for the design (either water-based or plastisol) is pushed through using a squegee. Ink used are either water-based or plastisol inks. Plastisol is the current standard in the shirt printing industry.
Direct-to-garment digital printing or DTG is a new innovation in textile printing. It makes use of a customized inkjet printer and specially formulated inks. A special white ink has also been created for textile inkjet printers, which is useful for dark-colored shirts. The white ink is used as a base on which other colors are layered to create the desired effect.
Screen printed shirts are best known for their long life and the variety of designs and inks that can be used. The printed design is expected to last as long as the shirt itself. Moreover, it is the only quality option for retail purchases, like the ones you find at the department store. However, screen printing also has higher entry level cost because the screens have to be set up first. Longer runs decrese the price though.
Digital printing is your best option if you’re thinking of having only a few shirts designed for a special occasion or as a gift or when you are using a high-color or photographic design. However, the quality of digitally printed designs is not as good as screen printed ones, and the ink tends to fade over the life of the garment. It is best for short runs only and not for larger batches.
So how do you choose which printing method to have? Think about what you need, what you envision the shirt to be like and how you’re going to use it. Keep an eye out for online cowboys who offer only digital t-shirt printing, when in fact you may be better off with a screen-printed design. Know what you want and ask for the best method to use based on your needs and your design.