Screen printing is a process that involves pushing ink through a woven mesh stencil onto fabric. The stencil opening creates the space through which the ink will go to create the design. The ink is then pushed over the mesh, pulled by a fill blade or squeegee. As the blade is pulled, the ink is pushed through the mesh, onto the garment.
Things you should know about screen printing
With screen printing, only one color can be applied at a time. Therefore, the number of colors on a t-shirt is limited, and each color requires more time, another screen and stencil, and ultimately, more money. That’s why screen printing is a good choice for simple designs with one solid color, and when you’re making many t-shirts of the same design at a time (eg. for a sports team, summer camp, or event).
How can you get yourself screen printed t-shirts?
There are many ways to get your hands on your own screen printed t-shirts. Here’s a great tutorial on how to do it at home, or you can find a screen printer close to you.
Direct to Garment (DTG): how does it work?
With DTG printing, a printer directly applies the ink onto the t-shirt with inkjet technology. It’s sort of like printing on paper, except on a t-shirt. A special printer prints the ink directly onto the garment in the desired design. DTG uses specialty water-based inks, which are absorbed by the fibers of the garment.
Things you should know about DTG printing
Since the DTG printer is as precise as, well, a printer, you’re able to print images in much higher detail than screen printing, and you’re not limited in color. Because the printer can print any image, you have a lot of options to customize your design.
This is also a good option for those who don’t have a lot of money to make an up-front investment for a large batch because each t-shirt can be ordered separately. No need to guess how many of each size to order, and you won’t have unsold items sitting around your living room.
Which printing method is best?
Screen printing and DTG both yield comparable, quality prints, but they differ in method. For one, screen printing is one of the oldest techniques, while DTG is newer technology. Screen printing involves pushing ink onto fabric, while DTG uses a printer to print ink directly onto a garment.
The decision ultimately comes down to your design and the quantity you need. Keep this chart handy – it sums up the points we talked about in this post.