Screen Printing Vs Sublimation: Which is Best?

by Anthony Clark

Both screen printing and sublimation are two practical textile printing and printing processes for having a very high wash resistance and considerable quality. Both processes have advantages and disadvantages. Depending on the one chosen it will be

What are the advantages and disadvantages of screen printing and sublimation and which one suits you best?

Screen printing is an analog technology that has proven over the years that it can be reliable and durable. Although certain processes have been automated, it is still a mainly handmade craft system. It is currently the most popular printing system. The screen printing process begins with the selection of the design to be printed, then it is printed on a photolith and then transferred to a mesh of tensioned fabric on a frame or frame called a screen.

Screen Printing Vs Sublimation: Which is Best?

The Advantages of Screen Printing are as Follows:

  • It allows to print on all types of garments: T-shirts, polo shirts, caps, sweatshirts, bags, polar.
  • There is an alternative to digital screen printing.
  • It allows to print only the design area.
  • It allows to print on any color of fabric.
  • Maximum durability and resistance to washing.
  • An ideal technique for large orders.

As a disadvantage it can be mentioned that it entails additional costs in the preparation of the screen, it is necessary to have sufficient experience in the technique, it can have an excessively thick finish, each color needs a different screen and it is not suitable for images of photographic quality.

In sublimation, an inkjet printer is used to print a design on a special sheet of paper. This paper is then placed on the material to be decorated and is heated with an iron. The temperature causes the printing of the sheet to be gasified and transferred to the fabric.

The Main Advantages of Sublimation are the Following:

The Main Advantages of Sublimation are the Following
The Main Advantages of Sublimation are the Following
  • It is a simple technique and does not need too much experience to perform.
  • It allows to apply an unlimited range of colors, since it uses 4 inks (CMYK).
  • Printing is integrated into the support and is part of it. Unlike the transfer paper technique, the printed design is not perceived by touch, cannot be scratched and does not lose color.
  • It allows to stamp images with photographic quality.
  • The method is so fast that the products can be produced the same day.

As disadvantages of sublimation, it should be contemplated that fabrics must be 100% polyester or with at least 2/3 polyester in their composition, otherwise sublimation does not work; The fabrics should be white because the sublimated inks are transparent and the background color mixes or contaminates the final shades of the print (It is possible to sublimate in colored or black cloth, but it requires a special process).

Deciding on screen printing or sublimation depends entirely on the needs and focus of each person for your project, in the end the most important thing is to be clear about the objectives and have the right materials for each situation.

3 Big Differences Between Sublimation And Screen Printing

Digital Sublimation Printing
Digital Sublimation Printing

n the world of prints and prints, the most practical and popular techniques of engraving designs are: sublimation and screen printing.

In this post we will analyze 5 aspects of these processes and recognize the most important characteristics of each one of them, in this way we can know the technique that is most useful for our project. Let's get started!

How are Your Procedures

Sublimation or thermal fixation is that printing technique in which the ink is printed by means of heat on the canvas, microscopically painting with a 'spray' the article to be sublimated, thus moving from a solid state to a gaseous state.

For its part, the screen printing technique - being one of the oldest - requires an important manual intervention to be able to perform the stamping, although in recent times it has been updated with machines.

The process begins with the selection of the design that will be printed on the photolyte, which will be transferred to a mesh of tensioned fabric on a frame called a screen. Through the insolation of the screen it is possible to transfer the design to the mesh. In the sunstroke it is possible that some pores of the mesh are open (where the ink will pass) and others closed (in which there is no ink transfer). Finally, the screen is placed on the garment and the ink of a single color is transferred, dragging the ink with a palette on the screen.

Development of Materials

Sublimation is successful in 100% polyester textiles or with at least 2/3 of this in its composition, as well as being one of the few printing methods that allows printing on totally rigid supports (cups, photo frames, plates, watches, etc.) it is necessary that the articles incorporate a special polyester coating.

Eye: cotton textiles today are possible to sublimate, however they require specific techniques and products, otherwise sublimation will not be very durable.

With silkscreen printing, it is possible to print on almost all materials (cardboard, glass, plastic, paper, cloth or metal), in articles of very varied formats - although it is mostly used to print flat areas.


Screen Printing Vs Sublimation: Which Is Best?
Screen Printing Vs Sublimation: Which Is Best?

Sublimation : it should be noted that the origin of sublimation is in the development of photography, so this technique achieves an unlimited range of colors, using CMYK sublimation ink which are transparent and add to the background / support color.

In this sense and as we know it, the printing of photographs is done on white photographic paper and not on one of color, so, by sublimating on a white support, colors faithful to the original image will be obtained.

Screen printing : allows the use of denser colors, offering a wide variety of color and solidity when exposed to light. This uniqueness allows very concrete and attractive effects to be achieved, which cannot be done with the other systems.

It should be noted that if the original design consists of several colors, a screen for each color should be prepared.

Is screen printing or sublimation better?

The truth is that there is no option that is better than the other, each of these stamping techniques has great advantages for specific purposes so it all depends on the work to be done, that is, the type of order, design, fabric, color, material etc

About Anthony Clark

Anthony Clark has always had that wierd passion for digital drawing and printing since he was little. He would just wander around in his parents' house in Phoenix, Arizona; drawing various things with his older digital tablet. Be it just a memory collection or a portay of just about anything: object, parents, school, events, etc. He received his BA in Graphic Design at San Jose State Universiry at the heart of Silicon Valley. Now Mr. Clark is really excited to present his expeirence coupling with some colorful dips to help shape it the future of printing.

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