5 Types of T-shirts Printing: Which One is the Best

by Karen Jones


Custom T-shirts are always in demand because of two reasons. Firstly, everyone wants to stand out in the crowd. Secondly, for specific events, games, or parties, you need t-shirts in bulk but at affordable prices. This high demand for t-shirts creates a whole new industry of t-shirt printing. Now, you have different methods to design any T-shirt and print it within no time. Your decision must depend upon three factors: quality, quantity, and budget while choosing any printing method. Among various methods, I have compiled a list of the best t-shirt printing types. Let's have a look.

5 Types of T-shirts Printing: Which One is the Best?

5 Types of T-shirts Printing: Which One is the Best?
5 Types of T-shirts Printing: Which One is the Best?

1. Screenprinting

Caydo 23 Pieces Screen Printing Starter kit Include 3 Different Size of Wood Silk Screen Printing Frame with Mesh, Screen Printing Squeegees, Inkjet Transparency Film, Ink Knife, and Mask Tape
Caydo 23 Pieces Screen Printing Starter kit Include 3 Different Size of Wood Silk Screen Printing Frame with Mesh, Screen Printing Squeegees, Inkjet Transparency Film, Ink Knife, and Mask Tape

Screen printing is the most well-known and commonly used method for T-shirt print. However, many people also know it as silkscreen. The reason is simple because this process was originally done using a mesh stretched tightly onto a wooden frame called "silkscreen." This type of printing has many benefits, such as vibrant color quality from CMYK color mixing.

In modern days, screens are made of polyester instead of silk due to their durability. Polyester also can block ink and avoid leakages. In addition, the wooden frames come in different sizes based on the garment size you need to be printed.

Method of screen printing

First, printers create a stencil. This is done by creating an image that has thick lines or dots. Next, these thick lines design will be transferred to the T-shirt. After this, it is covered up with tape so it won't get inked up while printing. Afterward, they apply special ink colors (usually CMYK) onto the mesh screen. And squeegee it across paper covered in emulsion paint until all of the screens are filled. Then let this residue sits for several minutes before peeling off the excess paint layer from each screen. Finally, after waiting even longer for the drying process, shirts go through a flash curing oven. This is the final stage which makes sure your custom t-shirts last as long as possible!

Pros and Cons

Pros

- Vibrant color

- Inexpensive production

- The best option for large quantity orders

- Quality is generally high because it uses more ink colors and multiple screens.

Cons

- Direct to Garment


2. DTG Printing

DTG Printing Turbo S 991 T-Shirt 100% Cotton, Black, XX-Large
DTG Printing Turbo S 991 T-Shirt 100% Cotton, Black, XX-Large

DTG printing is also known as Direct-to-Garment printing. It is a process in which the ink directly adheres to fabric without any intermediary steps such as a screen or transfer paper. This type of printing method allows for amazing detailed designs with unlimited colors. DTG has recently become very popular because it's easy, relatively and inexpensive. As a result, you can produce high-quality results on many fabrics, including 100% cotton, 50/50 blends (cotton polyester), and up to 100% polyester garments.

Method of DTG printing

To create a stencil, they use an eco-solvent printer that prints your artwork directly onto specially coated sheets of apparel called "heat transfers." After you have printed all these heat transfers onto the special paper, you place them down over their garment one at a time. Then you press it down with a little bit of pressure for transfer to take place.

Pros and Cons

Pros

- It also uses less inks colors compared to screen printing.

- Can be used with any garment.

- Allows for incredibly detailed designs using multiple colors.

- Inexpensive and fast production time (smaller quantity orders).

Cons

- Not suited for printing on dark garments because the ink can bleed when wet (ink is absorbed by fabric rather than sitting on top of it).

- Slight distortion in design.


3. Sublimation Printing

VIVOHOME Upgraded 5 in 1 Combo Multifunctional Swing Away Clamshell Printing Sublimation Heat Press Transfer Machine for T-Shirt Hat Cap Mug Plate 15 x 12 Inch Red
VIVOHOME Upgraded 5 in 1 Combo Multifunctional Swing Away Clamshell Printing Sublimation Heat Press Transfer Machine for T-Shirt Hat Cap Mug Plate 15 x 12 Inch Red

Sublimation printing is another method of t-shirt print. It can be done on almost any garment, including polyester, cotton-polyester, and cotton materials. This process uses heat transfer paper instead of traditional stencils. These heat transfer papers can print images on T-shirts and onto other garments like hoodies, sweatshirts, polos, etc. This type of custom printed t-shirts offers full-color designs without having limitations in terms of colors or resolution. DTG Printers uses CMYK ink rather than individual spot colors for each section.

Method of sublimation printing

The first step before starting this process is to create your artwork using the correct sublimation image setting. This is done by changing your file into a "positive" or white base color on a transparent background, usually with an opacity of around 75%.

Next, you will need to upload this design onto our online printing website and choose what type of garment you will print it on, i.e., t-shirt, hoodie, etc., as well as how many units you'd like produced (this number affects price). Then proceed through the checkout process. After checkout, an email will be forwarded to you containing all of the information.

Pros and Cons

Pros

- Fast production time

- No need for any inks, so it is an environment-friendly process.

- Can create unlimited color combinations with sharp graphics.

- Achieves incredible detail with crisp lines and smooth gradients.

Cons

- Requires a high-temperature press machine to transfer the image onto the shirt - can be expensive depending on your volume requirements.



4. CAD Cut Vinyl Printing

CAD cut vinyl printing is the most advanced method of custom T-shirt printing. It creates stencils directly from computer files by using CAD software. This software transfers very high detail graphics with crisp lines and smooth gradients that other print methods cannot match. Also, it offers the best resolution because you are essentially cutting out each color in your design. In other printing methods, when you use heat transfer, paper colors run into one another, creating distortions. If you want to get of this problem, then CAD cut vinyl printing is best for you.

Method of CAD Cut Vinyl Printing

The first step before starting this process is to create your artwork using the correct colors and gradients that you want for your design. Then, after designing, you have to save it as a high-resolution file (at least 300 dpi) with CMYK color mode.

You can use Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw software which is used by most t-shirt printers. Then upload the design onto CAD cut vinyl online printing website, where they'll send you an email after payment. This email contains all the measurements and settings required for production. You also need to select what type of garment you will print it on, i.e., t-shirt, hoodie, etc. You cannot change the number of printing units after payment, so be conscious while doing it.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

- Fast production time

- The most affordable way to create photo-realistic designs with unlimited colors.

- No color limitations; it can match any Pantone color.

- Produce sharp edges and fine details such as gradients or lettering.

- Smooth surface feels like a printed image, not plastic looking.

Cons:

- High-resolution artwork is needed, which increases cost.


5. Transfer Paper printing

VEVOR Heat Press Machine, 12x15 Inch, 5 in 1 Combo Swing Away T-Shirt Sublimation Transfer Printer with Teflon Coated, Precise Heat Control, Mug/Cap/Plate Accessories Included, ETL/FCC Listed, Black
VEVOR Heat Press Machine, 12x15 Inch, 5 in 1 Combo Swing Away T-Shirt Sublimation Transfer Printer with Teflon Coated, Precise Heat Control, Mug/Cap/Plate Accessories Included, ETL/FCC Listed, Black

Transfer paper printing is the most affordable way of creating photo-realistic designs on t-shirts. As its name suggests, it uses a special transfer paper on which both images and text are printed onto. After this, the sheet transfers all of the ink to garment in one step without going through any additional processes. You just need an image that contains at least two colors, i.e., black lettering/images on a white background, to start your printing.

Method of Transfer Paper Printing

The first step before starting this process is to create your artwork using high-quality images that are saved in PDF format with CMYK colors; if possible, save them as vector files (Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw). Next, it is important to choose the type of garment that you want to print it on. You will also need to indicate the number of units you would like to produce. Next, complete the checkout process. Once payment has been received, they will email you with all of the information uploaded. This email will also contain additional details that can be used to create stencils.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

- Fast production time

- The most affordable way to create photo-realistic designs.

- Photo-realistic image quality for a very affordable price.

- Produce sharp edges and fine details such as gradients or lettering.

Cons:

- Only two colors can be printed at a time.


Final Verdict

Printing t-shirts requires some research. Otherwise, you will get nothing but crap. First, check that your t-shirt's color and fabric are compatible with the chosen printing method. Printing in bulk is a decision that must be made with equal importance. After you are done with the preparations, you just need to apply one of these methods and let us all know your experiences.

About Karen Jones

For the last decade, Karen Jones has worked as a freelance writer and social media marketing consulant. As an gourmand and avid traveler, she publishes cutting-edge articles about traveling that really attracting readers into her wonderful journeys. If you can't find Ms. Jones around her friends and family, she's definitely busy in her home office refining her writing composition and printing press.

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