Apparel printing has undergone significant changes over the past few years. Although screen printing has been around for years, modern technology has enabled apparel manufacturers to use dye sublimation for printing garments.
Screen printing and dye sublimation play an integral role in the apparel industry. But, if you’re wondering which printing is more efficient, cost-effective and reliable, it’s important that you understand the pros and cons of each technique:
Screen printing is the most popular technique for printing garments, specifically t-shirts. It can be done either manually with a screen printing press or with an automatic machine.
To screen print a t-shirt, you will need a stencil, ink and a squeegee. After applying ink to the stencil, the ink is transferred to the garment with a squeegee. The ink is placed on top of a screen and then spread over the garment using a squeegee.
The following are the main features of screen printing:
- One color can be screen printed at a time. Since a single press uses a single paint, it’s not recommended for printing multiple colors in a single t-shirt. If a garment has more than one color, you will need that number of separate screens.
- Screen printing creates visually appealing printing results.
- Screen printed garments can be safely washed in a machine.
- Screen printing requires a lot of attention to detail and patience. Otherwise, it can get very messy.
- A screen print can crack, fade or peel off more quickly than other printing techniques. This is because a lot of the ink isn’t completely absorbed by the garment.
Dye sublimation is an advanced printing technique that transfers graphic images onto garments. It uses heat-sensitive dyes to permanently print any graphic or text onto a transfer paper. The transfer paper is placed on a garment and inserted in a heat press.
Heat and pressure are used to convert ink into a gaseous state, without converting it to liquid. This helps transfer the graphic on the transfer paper onto the garment.
Dye sublimation creates stunning printed results. But, the only downside is that it can be done on a polyester or a polyester blend shirt. Natural fabric like cotton cannot withstand the high temperature of the heat press.
That being said, dye sublimation produces long lasting results. The printed garment will not fade or peel off from excessive use because the ink is penetrated into fabric.
Dye sublimation can handle multiple graphics or images and is a cost-effective choice for making multi-colored garments. Last but not least, the printed apparel is machine washable.