Different people have different preferences when going out to buy a particular product. Herein, production techniques and styles determine the final outlook of the finishing product. It is the same for clothing items including t-shirts.
You may want your t-shirt plain or with print. There are a variety of designs and printing methods giving an individual characteristic look to each one.
The method to be used is determined by several factors including design of print, available tools, mass production or not among others.
Top 5 Types of T-Shirt Printing Methods
1. Screen Printing Or Silk Screen Printing
This is probably one of the oldest and most common techniques used to put print on 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’.
The process involves the use of a screen and allowing ink through the same using a tool called a squeegee. A stencil is used to create the design and a 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. The result is a design by screen printing. You may use a single screen for one color and design or several depending on how complex the design is and how many colors you want to use for the same.
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 it weighs against other methods include:
It may be the oldest printing method used since the 15th Century but it also has its downsides which include:
Despite its limitations screen printing also referred to as Serigraphy remains one of the most common methods used to print designs on t-shirts.
2. Heat press printing method
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.
A prescribed amount of heat and pressure is applied on top of the paper causing the dye to transfer on to the fabric when it softens though not into a liquid but more into a kind of thick paste that absorbs into the fabric. The transfer paper is then lifted leaving behind the print. It is advantageous because:
It however has its limitations including:
This technique is very common for persons producing specific designs for specific purposes in limited quantities.
3. Vinyl cutting
This is an interesting method of putting designs on to T-shirts involving the use of a specially designed cloth that is cut into the desired shape and placed onto the t-shirt. This is then pressed using a heat application tool. The heat application component is similar to that of heat press printing. It is preferred because:
It is however limited to only particular letter designs and can be difficult creating certain shapes and designs.
4. Direct to garments or DTG
This is a relatively non-labor-intensive process that uses a fabric printer to print a design right from your computer screen. The printer uses special fabric ink and NOT the common paper ink used every day with normal printers.
Those who prefer DTG over other methods do so because:
It is however also limiting:
Despite its cons it is quite popular and is used to make designs in both small- and large-scale quantities.
5. Dye sublimation
This technique is very different as it uses dye that is transferred onto your t-shirt using a heat application method that converts the state of dye from solid to gas. It then opens the pores of your fabric and lets in the gaseous form of dye before lowering the temperatures and locking the dye into the fabric. The design is created on a computer screen after which a special dye sublimation printer is used to complete the process.
It is used by many because:
However, it also has its disadvantages including:
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:
To this end, it is particularly important to research or consult on the most suitable method. In the absence of this you may end up with a faulty design, damage your fabric or incur unnecessary financial loss.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
1. What is considered the popular t-shirt printing method?
Inevitably, the popular t printing method should be screen printing. Most of us wear t-shirts that went through this printing process. This method was first invented and introduced in China.
The thought factor behind this was when they were holding a silk mash over a wooden frame, and there were strategically placed holes on the wood, they noticed that those wooden holes left an awesome design on the fabric.
2. Is embroidery considered a printing technique?
Technically, no. There is no printing involved in this one. This method uses a machine to stitch a particular design to your fabric of choice. It can text, image or any other design. Most of the embroidery work you’ll see are on corporate work wear. It has a very professional look and longer lasting.
The only downside of this method is that it is very hard to replicate intricate designs and small text.
So, you may want to consider Screen printing for more personal use or if you are operating on a low budget. Most of the requirements are easily improvised.
Heat press printing and vinyl cutting have got similar properties. DTG and dye sublimation demand more established ventures.
Screen printing sounds more convenient for most of the time. It’s easy and widely popular among t-shirt printers.
In a nutshell, there is no single great method for printing as each process has their own perks and downsides. Choose the one that perfect suits you rather than the one someone tells you to do.