When shopping around for custom t-shirts, tablecloths, or tote bags, you may see many printing types available on various printers' websites. You're probably wondering what the difference is between all these very similar sounding printing options - like heat transfer vs screen printing. In this article, we'll help you decide which printing process is best for you by breaking down the differences between these two common printing types.
Screen Printing vs Heat Transfer
Let's get right down to it. When a design is produced using the screen printing method, actual screens are used in the process! Essentially, this screen is cut to make a stencil for the design. Ink is then spread over the screen, passing through to the object underneath only in the areas you want it to be. Only one color per screen can be used - so depending on the number of colors in the design, you'll need multiple screens to produce the final item.
The heat transfer printing method for us is essentially printing in full colour onto a clear film sheet. We then "marry" this film with a white background, so that the image is as vibrant as possible. This creates what we like to call a "film press". This film press is then heat pressed onto a shirt or other suitable item. The resulting transfer is durable, full colour, and is far superior to direct transfer method (DTG) many other houses offer. Heat transfer is not as limited as silk screen in either number of colours, or quantities required.
Which Printing Type Should You Choose?
The best printing type for you depends on what type of item you are customizing and how many you would like in total. Because unique screens need to be cut for each color of a screen printed design, it is much more cost effective to produce a larger number of items with this method, versus just a few at a time. For example, we prefer screen print orders of at least 100 units. Conversely, the heat transfer process is the same with every print made, so you can order just a couple items at a time without costs ballooning.