There are many methods of t shirt printing in the market today. However, the top two most popular t shirt printing methods have got to be screen printing and heat transfer printing or digital transfers. So which one do you go for, screen printing or digital transfers? Well, ultimately the t shirt printing methods used depends on what you wish to achieve from the printing job for example, the quality and the feel of the print.
To start the screen printing (also known as silk screening) process, your approved artwork is converted to film. Each film is used to make the screens. A screen is made of a piece of porous, finely woven fabric called mesh stretched over a frame of aluminum or wood. The screens are then coated with a photosensitive emulsion. The screens are left to dry and exposed to UV light. After being exposed, the screens are then washed out with a pressure washer. The inks are then transferred through the tiny dots in the stencil to achieve the desired print. We use high quality plastisol ink as it's similar to rubber and is very durable. Each color in the design must be blocked, taped, setup, and squeegeed. For smaller runs, manual presses are used, for larger runs with more colors, rotary automatic presses are used. By drying the ink between each color layer, we are able to achieve bright, consistent and professional quality printing with years of durability.
As you can tell by now, this method has a high detailed setup process to ensure the best quality print. The costs of this method is mainly in the set-up process. The number of screens for any design is based on the number of colours of the design. So the more colours you have the higher the set-up costs. This method is ideal for large quantity customers looking for a professional and durable finish. It is the most convenient and economical way to mass produce t shirts.
Once your artwork is approved, your design is printed onto a special type of transfer material using a colour laser printer. The transfer material is then pressed onto the t-shirt under high temperature. If you want photo quality print, digital transfer is your answer. This method is ideal for small run customers with multicolour designs looking for a fast turnaround time. Though the materials we use are of premium quality from Italy and Japan, digital transfer prints are still less durable than screen printed designs which are directly printed onto the garments.