5 Types of T-shirt Printing Technologies You Must Know

There are a lot of things to consider when you’re choosing the printing technology. One thing, there is no best technology but only the most suitable technology for different scenarios. Cost, appearance, production time, materials—they’re all very crucial. To save your time, we have summarised the pros and cons of each printing technology to help you make a decision fast. Else, you can also go straight to our infographic to aid your selection flow.

1. Silk Screen Printing

Best for: Group/bulk order, very few specific colours design

What it is

This technique is applied to most of the t-shirts we wear. It is the most traditional t-shirt printing method in which each color in a design is separated and printed to the garment through a stencil (template). Fixed cost incur for each colour stencil setup.

Pros

Cons

√ Very durable and versatile technique× Priced by the number of colours in the design
√ Relatively cheap for bulk order× Not a viable option for small quantities
Supreme quality with a soft finish× Not ideal for multiple full-colour designs

 

2. Heat Transfer Printing

Best for: Durability, vibrant dynamic colours, smaller logos or text-based areas.

What it is

Most transfers are done via design printed on a kind of vinyl which is later sealed (much like a sticker) onto the T-shirt using a pressurised heat press machine.

Pros

Cons

√ Vibrant colour option and sophisticated design× Designs need to have clear edges for cutting
√ Inexpensive for smaller quantity× A bit slower than other methods
Suitable for full-colour printing× Larger logos designs can feel hard and less comfortable

 

3. Direct to Garment Printing (“DTG”)

Best for: Comfort, overall value and larger logos or photos.

What it is

A relatively new technique in the t-shirt printing industry. Ink is printed directly on your t-shirt. Imagine your t-shirt going through a machine like your home printer. The quality of DTG is marvellous (but not as good as that of silk screen printing). It works best on white garments. It can also work on a darker t-shirt, but the result will be less sharp in colour.

Pros

Cons

√ Supports one-off printing with soft result× A bit slower than silk screen printing for mass production
√ Full-colour printing with low cost per piece× Printing colour starts to fade after roughly 10 washes
 Great option for large logos or photos on both sides× Not cost effective for large volume order

 

4. Sublimation Printing

Best for: Full cloth design, large order, promotional events or celebrations.

What it is

Have you seen a T-shirt with the design printed all over the garment? Sublimation works best when used for all over and oversize printing. It’s capable of transforming the whole t-shirt into a great piece of art.

Pros

Cons

√ Unique and all over design× Only applicable on a t-shirt made with 100% polyester
√ Unlimited colours and style mix× Printables are required to be ideally white 
 Suitable for bulk order × Not feasible for order below 50 pcs

 

5. Embroidery

Best for: Higher-quality items like button-down shirts, uniforms, polos, jackets and caps.

What it is

Machine stitches a particular design or text onto the garment of choice. It is one of the most used methods for golf shirts and corporate work wear.

Pros

Cons

√ Very professional and elegant look× High cost as price based on the number of stitches
√ Long lasting and never fade× Very small design and detail might be difficult to do
 Unique× Not feasible for a dynamic colour like gradient and shadow

 

Ultimate Cheat Sheet and Selection Guide for T-shirt Printing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *