T-Shirt Printing Quality

In this day in age, there are three popular methods for printing onto t-shirts. Each method has its pros and cons, and will partially depend on how much time you want to invest into the product creation, as well as the printing partner you choose.

Below, we have outlined all three print methods to give you a better understanding of each process.

Screen Printing machine for T-shirts

Screen Printing

Screen printing is an old technique that has stood the test of time. As one of the most popular methods for printing onto t-shirts, screen printing can produce durable and long lasting result. However, a labor intensive initial setup means screen printing is most cost effective when printing in bulk. Screen printing also poses issues when it comes to complex designs or designs with more than four to five colors as each color increases costs and production time.

Pros

  • Cost effective for large batches.
  • Volume discounts.

Cons

  • Not cost effective for multiple colors.
  • Can only print simple images and designs.

heat-printing-machineHeat Transfer

Heat transfers have also been around for a long time and exist in several form. You may have seen basic heat transfer paper at your local office supply store. Although these make it easy to print your designs from your home computer and transfer them with an iron, these won’t cut it when it comes to running a business. The more advanced form of heat transfers are called plastisol transfers and are printed by professional printers on special, high quality heat transfer paper. The advantage of this is being able to order a stack of prints from your local printer and transfer them to your t-shirts as you receive orders with a commercial heat press machine.

Heat transfers can produce full-colour images onto t-shirts relatively easily and quickly.

Pros

  • You can “print” each shirt on demand.

Cons

  • Lower quality and less durable than direct-to-garment and screen printing.
  • Large upfront investment into a heat press machine (Few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars).
  • Do-it-yourself approach means additional time input from yourself.

dtg-printer-machineDirect-To-Garment (DTG)

The direct-to-garment printing process operates much like a ink-jet printer you would have at home. DTG prints ink directly onto the t-shirt and can produce full color images with accuracy.

Direct-to-garment printing produces quality printing on par with screen printing and better than heat transfers. Because it operates just like an ink-jet printer, there are no setup costs, unlike screen printing. This means that it’s easy and cost effective to print small orders.

The major disadvantage of direct-to-garment printing is the lack of volume discount for large orders, as it takes the same amount of time to print each shirt.

Pros

  • Unlimited color options.
  • High detail accuracy in printed design.
  • Great for small orders or one-offs.
  • No set-up costs.

Cons

  • Not cost effective for large production runs.
  • Generally no volume discounts.