Common T-Shirt Printing Methods
There are plenty of t-shirt printing methods, and they mostly differ in quality and efficiency.
While one method may be suitable for certain types of fabrics, another may be better for others.
In the world of t-shirt printing, quantities and scale also play a major role when deciding the t-shirt printing method. You can use any method to print on a few dozen t-shirts, and they will work great. However, not all of them may be the most economic or reasonable choice for a few hundred t-shirts.
Of course, if you have the time, patience, and resources, you can opt for any method for as many t-shirts as you like. There is also the matter of colors because not many methods support multicolor designs for t-shirt printing.
Let’s discuss some common t-shirt printing methods to give you a better idea of what we mean.
Common T-Shirt Printing Methods
Here are some of the most common t-shirt printing methods that are currently being used in the industry.
- Screen Printing
Also known as silkscreen printing, screen printing is an old method most preferred by t-shirt printing professionals because of its excellent quality and longevity of designs.
This method uses a nylon mesh that holds a stencil or template of the design in place. The stencil blocks the non-color spaces on the t-shirt below using a water-proof material.
Next, the screen is lowered on the t-shirt, and the desired color ink is spread all over the mesh screen. Then, a technician uses a squeegee to spread the ink evenly as it penetrates the screen.
Once the ink is on the t-shirt, the screen is removed. The t-shirt is then dried and cured, often in a separate machine.
Silkscreen printing is one of the oldest methods of printing t-shirts. However, it has remained one of the most preferred methods as it creates vibrant and long-lasting designs.
Multi-colored designs require different screens, with each screen supporting the penetration of just one color. Screens are reusable, making them less time-consuming than some other methods. This reusability increases printing efficiency and makes screen printing suitable for large orders.
However, complex, multi-colored designs are avoided because it is tedious and time-consuming. Although, screen printing is ideal for single-tone designs in mass quantities on most fabrics with low polyester content.
- Heat Press Printing
Heat press printing is a simple and economic solution to t-shirt printing. It is as simple as printing a design on a special transfer paper and transferring the design onto a t-shirt using a heat press.
The transfer paper is mostly vinyl material that has an adhesive on one side for printing and removable tape on the other. Once you have heat-pressed the printed design on the t-shirt, you strip the tape to remove the paper, and only the design remains on the t-shirt.
This easy process is suitable for complex, multicolor designs. However, it is one of the slowest t-shirt printing methods and does not suit dark and heat-sensitive fabrics.
- Direct to Garment (DTG)
This is another common t-shirt printing method preferred by professionals and used in large textile businesses for mass production. It is similar to printing paper on a printer, except you print fabrics and garments like t-shirts with DTG.
This is the best way to print complex, multicolored designs quickly. You load up a design onto the computer and send it to a DTG printer that accurately prints it onto the t-shirt or fabric you load it with. Designs are precise, and printing is quick; however, the DTG printer is expensive and requires proper maintenance.
Moreover, DTG works great on cotton but may give dull results for blended and polyester materials. The print is also not thick and layered like most other methods; rather, it is a fine print that uses thin ink, similar to paper printing.
These are some of the most common t-shirt printing methods used across the world, and there are others, which we can discuss another time. For now, these should give a good idea of how t-shirt printing works and why fabric, quantity, and colors matter when deciding on t-shirt printing methods.
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If you want to learn more about common t-shirt printing methods or the best t-shirt printing from Seemore shorts and tees, please visit our website today.