Different people have different preferences when it comes to buying a product. The final look of the finished product is determined by the production techniques and the styles used. The same applies to clothing items, including t-shirts.
You can choose to have your t-shirt printed or plain. There are many t-shirt printing options available, each with its own unique look.
The design of the print, available tools, and whether or not it is mass produced, all play a part in determining the method to use.
Top 5 T-shirt Printing Options for Beginners
1. Silk Screen Printing or Screen Printing
This is probably one of the oldest and most common techniques used to put the print on a t-shirt. The basic principle here is to isolate certain areas within the space you want to print allowing the print ink to flood the rest of the design area and there after creating what we will now call the ‘print’.
This involves the use a screen and allowing ink to pass through it using a tool called the squeegee. A stencil is used to create the design and waterproof material such as rubber or wax is used to keep the ink out of the ‘positive areas’ while letting it into the ‘negative’ areas.
This is screen printing. Depending on the complexity of the design and how many colors you want, you can use one or more screens for each color.
Screen printing is used across the board both for domestic and commercial purposes and can be done manually or by machine and is particularly credited for identical designs. Other reasons screen printing is superior to other methods include:
- It is very fast and can produce many prints in a short time. This is due to its simplicity. Although it may take longer to set up the screen, it is not difficult. Once the screen is set up, the rest is easy.
- New armatures can use screen printing to learn skills. It is not difficult and can be used to explain the basic principles of t-shirt print.
- Screen printing inks are generally of a higher quality than other printing methods. They have a longer life expectancy.
- Fabric friendly, as it doesn’t expose the material to harsh conditions that can cause damage or discoloration. It can also be used with different types of fabric. The only difference would be to choose the right type of ink for the cloth.
- It is possible to create unique designs with limited quantities of stencils by simply destroying them once you have completed the desired number. It is very difficult to replicate a stencil design in exactly the same way. A fake stencil would be easily visible to the keen eye.
It could be the oldest. printing method used since the 15th Century However, it also has its drawbacks.
- This printing method, which involves ink and pressing over a screen, is not the best. It can also get messy.
- It has been controversially described as taking too much labor and time by some quarters. This school of thought argues it takes a long while to create the design on a template as opposed to other methods that we will discuss later.
- It is limited to very simple designs. It would take too much time to design frames.
Despite its limitations, screen printing, also known as Serigraphy, is still one of the most popular methods of creating artwork. common methods used to print designs on t-shirts.
2. Heat press printing
Heat press printing or HPP involves the use of special material called the transfer paper on which a design is printed. The process is actually quite simple; the paper with the design is placed where you want your print. For more information, please refer to this article. printing heat transfer paper.
The paper is then heated and pressed to the desired temperature. The dye will transfer onto the fabric once it has softened, but not into liquid, but into a thick paste that absorbs into fabric. The print is then removed from the transfer paper.
- The print is durable and looks great on fabrics that are lighter.
- It is easy to use and affordable for domestic and commercial purposes. This technology is especially useful in large-scale production of fabrics, including t-shirts.
- There is a variety of transfer papers that allow for both domestic printing using an iron box to mass production using a heat press machine.
- It’s not messy because you won’t be working with liquid ink.
- It doesn’t take much space to print.
- The fabric has the same characteristics as the print, but it is visible that the print is very stiff.
- The print is not easy to iron and can easily be damaged. However, this can be minimized by ironing your tee shirt inside out. This does not eliminate the possibility of damaging the print.
- This technique is not suitable for darker shades of material
This technique is used to create specific designs in limited quantities.
3. Vinyl cutting
This is a great way to add designs to T-shirts. You use a specially designed fabric that is cut into the desired shapes and placed on the t-shirt. This is then heat applied. The heat application part is similar to heat press printing. It is highly preferred because:
- The fact that cloth is used to make the ‘print’ puts it above others in terms of durability; no fading or running of colors.
- It allows you to create intricate designs by using multiple layers of fabric using a vinyl cutting machine.
- The fabric can be cut into different shapes to create different designs.
However, it is limited to certain letter designs and it can be difficult to create certain shapes and designs.
4. Direct to garments, or DTG
This is a relatively labor-intensive process that can be used a fabric printer to print a design Right from your computer screen. The printer uses special fabric ink, not the regular paper ink that is used every day with ordinary printers.
- This is the easiest method to create complex designs with a computer graphic application.
- It is a tidy process. The product is not handled by anyone.
- It is relatively cheaper than other automated systems to set up, and it is easier to operate.
- The under base layer is applied to dark clothing before the design is printed. It can be messy and cause a smudging of your tee.
- It cannot be used on fabrics with low cotton content, especially sporting items of clothing.
- It is less effective to print on dark garments. In such cases, the print may appear uncleared or grainy.
Despite its drawbacks, it is very popular and can be used to create designs in small- and large-scale quantities.
5. Dye sublimation
This method is very different, as it uses dye that’s transferred onto your tee shirt using heat application methods that convert the dye’s state from solid to liquid.
It opens the pores of the fabric to let in the gaseous dye. The temperature is then lowered and the dye is locked into the fabric. After the design is created on a computer screen, a special dye sublimation printer is used for finalizing the process.
It is used because:
- Because the dye does not pass through the liquid stage, the ink and process used do not cause fabric to leak. It does not leave behind any stains.
- It has a long-lasting property because the print is not merely laid on top of the fabric but is ‘infused’ into it by the sublimation process.
- This type of print can be created using complex designs that you can create on your computer.
However, it has its drawbacks as well.
- Clear images are impossible to print. They appear blurry because of the technology’s whole principle. The fusion of inks and cloth causes this effect. Only certain designs can produce an effective print.
- You are limited to a specific size of design or print. The dye sublimation printer Because of its size, large designs are not possible.
- This process is extremely dust-sensitive and even a small amount of dust can cause distortion to your design.
These are common methods to use when printing a design on your t-shirt given each one’s pros and cons it is important to research on what method you may want to use which will be influenced by:
- Your level of expertise in a specific field of print.
- Resources available
- The type of fabric being used.
- The final product is the function of the T-shirt.
- This product is ideal for small-scale or commercial printing.
It is important to research and consult with experts on the best method. This will ensure that you don’t end up with a bad design, damage to your fabric, or incur unnecessary financial loss.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
1. What is the most common t-shirt printing technique?
Screen printing is the preferred method of printing t-shirts. This printing process is what most of us wear. This printing process was first developed in China.
This was because they were holding a silk mashing over a wooden frame and noticed that the holes were strategically placed.
2. Is embroidery considered to be a printing technique?
Technically, no. This method does not involve printing. This method uses a machine for stitching a specific design onto your fabric. It can stitch text, images or any other design. Most of the embroidery work you’ll see are on corporate work wear. It is professional looking and lasts longer.
This method has one drawback: it is difficult to reproduce intricate designs and small text. For sewing and embroidery, get a quilting machine.
What are the Best Types of Shirt printing?
Screen printing may be a good option if you have a limited budget or want to make personal prints. The majority of the requirements can be improvised.
Vinyl cutting and heat press printing have similar properties. DTG and Dye-sublimation are more established ventures.
Screen printing sounds easier for most people. It’s easy and widely popular among t-shirt printers.
There is no single best way to print, each process has its perks and drawbacks. You should choose the one that best suits you, not the one that someone tells.