Below, you’ll discover all the t-shirt printing methods available today. For each of the methods below, we will run through the positives & negatives of each method.
1. SCREEN PRINTING
This happens to be the most popular method of T-shirt printing for most brands & manufacturers.
To screen-print, you need a nylon mesh and a stencil/template. The nylon mesh holds the stencil in place & a water-proof material blocks the space you’re looking to design so you can get a nice precise print.
You proceed by spreading the ink all over the screen often using a squeegee and the ink permeable negative space allows your design to be printed.
Finally, remove the screen and allow the design to dry and cure.
This method is great for bulk orders as you can use the same screen over and over again, however if you are looking for one off prints most manufacturers will not accept an order quantity lower than 10.
To print designs with more than one colour, you have to make different screens as each screen supports just one colour.
We would not recommend this method if you are looking at printing complex designs with multiple colours as there is definitely methods which will give you a better result.
2. DIRECT TO GARMENTS (DTG)
This method is one of our favourites and we use this for a lot of our designs.
Instead of printing onto any screens like the screenprinting method this one is a lot easier and more suited for one off prints & complexed multi coloured designs.
It's pretty simple, using special inks & a special printer the design is printed directly onto the garment leaving a crisp finish.
With computer programs like Adobe Photoshop, you will be able to define the tiniest details and transfer them to the desired garment.
The printer required for this method can be quite pricey however the results are second to none and we would definitely recommend this method if you are looking to print a design with loads of colours.
3. VINYL HEAT TRANSFER
This technique requires a vinyl plotting machine & rolls of vinyl itself, unlike the DTG printer these can found found at reasonable prices online.
Great for sports wear & 1 colour prints this method offers the ability to cut out any shape/letters and apply them anywhere on the garment.
Using programmes such as Inkscape & Easycut you will need to create your design and send it to the plotting machine which will then cut out your vinyl. Then you heat press the vinyl onto the garment.
This method is great for long lasting results and it is very easy to do compared to the other techniques discussed. However this isn't suitable for bulk orders.
4. DYE SUBLIMATION
If you’ve ever seen a t-shirt with a huge design that was spread all over it, the t-shirt was most likely printed using this method.
This technique is suited for light fabrics as the you will be able to see the colours very clearly.
You will only be able to do this on polyester t-shirts as the ink will not take to cotton t-shirts. you’re using a special liquid dye that dries up and solidifies when it comes into contact with the polyester.
If you are looking for a method which will give you a crisp & breathable print then this is the method for you, however this method can get confusing if you are just starting out and this will limit you to only using light fabrics.
The best method for printing t-shirts depends on your specific needs and those of your customers.
For example if you are looking at printing jerseys for a sports team with names and numbers on the back then Screenprinting or Vinyl transfers will be the best option for you.
However if you are looking for one off prints which can print complex colours and leave you with a crisp design then Sublimation or DTG will definitely be the best option for you.
If you have any questions about the methods we use or would like to make any suggestions please feel free to get in touch via email - firstname.lastname@example.org