Are you into t-shirt printing business? Or are you a fanatic of t-shirt printing? So if you find interest in t-shirt printing, you undoubtedly understand that there exist two major printing methods i.e. Screen Printing vs Heat Press.
Probably you have torn apart between which is ideal for you. Well, do not worry because we will be discussing each of these in details so that you have all the information you need about each.
Here we will highlight each printing techniques highlighting how they work. We will also give the various advantages of each.
Screen printing traces its origin from the Chinese people. Initially, they used silk to achieve the task and thus the process is also termed silk screening.
Silk screening is a very old technique that has existed for thousands of years. Despite its age, screen printing still finds wide application in the modern world thanks to its efficiency.
In very simple terms, screen printing is the art of applying ink the objects via screens. Screen printing is not limited to clothing only; you can print on an array surfaces and products including hats, pens, bottles and business cards just to mention a few examples.
The Requirement of Screen Printing
Silk printing is a rather complex process requiring more input in terms of equipment and chemical. Here are some requirements:
- You will need to create a screen using emulsion.
- You will need an emulsion remover, dehaze, and ink thinner to clean the screen after a single use.
- You will need a washout booth for cleaning as well as creating screens.
- A dark room is inevitable if you are storing screens and you will need a light machine for burning screens.
- You will need to install flash and conveyor belt dryers, both for dying screens.
- Lastly, you will need a printing machine to carry out the actual printing.
- Other necessities include squeegees, tape, films, scrubbers and a minimum of 20 screens of different mesh size. You will also need plastisol inks of various colors and a printer for burning films.
Screen Printing Ink Types
Screen printing offers you two ink choices i.e. water-based ink and plastisol inks.
Water-based ink embeds into the fabric and produces a soft feel on touching. Furthermore, these inks are eco-friendly causing minimal harm to the environment.
Designs from water-based inks are neither prone to cracking nor fading. However, the ink produces best results on some materials such as pure cotton fabrics, towels and lightweight stretch materials such as bamboo and rib.
Discharge ink is another water-based ink that is specifically formulated to produce a better result on dark colored fabrics. The type of fabric, as well as manufacturer specifications, can determine the type of ink to use.
Plastisol ink sits on top of the fabric rather than embedding on the fabric. While the ink may not be friendly to the environment, the major downfall is that designs done printed using plastisol ink are prone to cracking and fading.
Heat Press Printing
Heat press refers to a machine that has a plate that gets very hot. The heat press has several controls such as pressure, time and temperature.
The controls allow you to set the precise conditions necessary to apply a print onto a garment correctly. The plate on the machine has a wide area to facilitate printing on various-sized t-shirts.
The heat press machine facilitates heat transfer process of designs onto the printing medium.
Heat transfer is a printing process that utilizes heat and pressure to transfer a design from a paper to a garment. The process initiates with you creating the artwork on a special paper using special ink and culminates when you transfer the artwork to a cloth by applying heat and pressure.
Vinyl Heat Transfer and Digital Print Heat Transfer
There are different kinds and sources of transfer. The transfer entails a carrier paper and ink.
The ink is transferred to the print object when heat and pressure give to the transfer. Topical transfers adhere to the surface of the material while sublimation transfers absorb into the fiber of the material.
Vinyl Heat Transfer
Vinyl is the material frequently used with this machine. At high temperatures, the vinyl cloth acts as an adhesive at high temperatures.
For vinyl transfer, a machine cuts out the desired design or pieces of colored vinyl. The heat press is then applied to transfer the vinyl design onto the printing object.
The vinyl material melts onto the apparel on which it is placed. This way, it adheres to the cloth and will endure many washes.
The heat press machine is the best choice for small orders of less than twelve pieces. The setup time is minimized making it affordable and time efficient.
Vinyl and heat press offers the best results for customized jerseys.
Digital Heat Transfer
The first step in digital design is printing the digital image on a heat transfer paper using special solvent ink. The special ink allows the transfer of printed design from the paper to the t-shirt by application of heat and pressure.
Vinyl printing, last long and you can prolong their lifespan by following the instructions on the cloth. The instructions show how to wash at what temperature and forbid ironing.
Use the heat press machine to transfer the design either vinyl or digitally printed, to the print surface.
However, when it comes to the cost of operation, you need to decide depending on the number of clients and startup cost.
For a small business printing a small number of customized t-shirts, the heat press does well. A heat press machine is cheaper to start with, but there are advanced variants that are costly.
With heat press, each print consumes roughly 3 minutes. It is therefore not economical to the time when printing a large number of objects.
However, with large orders, you save both time and money. This is because the setup cost remains constant regardless of the number of prints you want to make.
With regards to business, many clients purchasing printed t-shirts are not aware of the printing methods. A majority of them will opt for the design with no regards to printing technique.
Heat press and screen print both produce quality results. With the information above, you can now make an informed decision whether as a t-shirt enthusiast or as an entrepreneur venturing into t-shirt printing business.