A Comparative Analysis of Screen Printing and Heat Press Printing

  • Jul 22, 2019

Screen printing and heat press printing are two popular methods printers use to produce designs on different materials. However, these two methods use two very different techniques to create various artworks on different materials.

In this article, we will take a look into these two different printing methods as well as discuss their specific pros and cons:


What is Screen Printing Method?

Screen printing uses a screen mesh to produce prints on a substrate – t-shirt, banner or a mug. It is an extensive process that makes use of various equipment and tools to convert an artwork on a substrate. The screen used in this process only produces one color at a time. Let’s say if you want to print custom patches, you have to use the different screens for producing the various colors on the patches.

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Screen printing is a highly industrial printing method and it uses a significant amount of budget and time to create a design on a substrate. Therefore, this printing method is suitable only for large-scale projects that involve printing on dozens of materials.

Now we will take a look into pros and cons of screen printing method:




It Is Ideal for High-Quality Design

Screen printing is one of the best printing methods to produce vibrant designs on any material. It is widely used to create high-quality designs on garments. With screen printing, you can produce brighter designs even on dark-colored fabrics.


It Is Suitable Only for Larger Runs

Since screen printing takes into service the different tools and materials, the production cost per unit becomes higher. Screen printing is meant to be used for larger projects that require printing on dozens of materials. In this case, the aggregate cost becomes much lower than what you might suffer in small jobs that require printing on few materials.


It Is Durable

The majority of screen printers uses plastisol ink which is known for its durability. It is high in viscosity and ensures a strong hold on to the substrate. Due to these features, screen printing is considered a more durable printing method than heat press printing.




It Has a Higher Setup Cost

Screen printing makes use of wide-ranging materials and tools which increases the setup cost of this printing method. To get started with a screen printing job, you will need expensive stuff like belt dryer, exposure unit, flash dryer and washout booth. 

Besides, there are plenty of other small-budget materials and tools that you will need to perform a job. This includes everything from mesh screen and squeegee to emulsion and ink. All these things significantly increase the setup cost of a screen printing facility.


It Is Not the Best Option for Multicolored, Complex Designs

Screen printing is not an ideal solution for making intricate designs that have different colors. Since screen printing can produce only one color per screen, the production cost keeps increasing with every additional color. In addition, the application of a complex design on a material increases the lead time which eventually results in delayed projects and botched prints.


It Is Very Expensive for Small Projects

As mentioned above, screen printing uses the many different tools and materials which increases the final cost of the project. So let’s say you need to print five different custom made patches in multiple colors, you will be using five different screens for the job. Overall, you will bear more expenses per patch than what you would incur for a larger project.

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Heat Press Printing

As its name suggests, heat press printing is a process that is performed with application of heat. It is also among the most popular printing method printers use for creating designs on a material. It incorporates different tasks to make prints on a substrate, starting from designing the artwork to heat pressing the material. A print made from heat press printing method is as good as screen printing.

However, heat press printing method has its set of pros and cons. Here they are:




It Is Easier to Setup

Unlike screen printing, heat press printing is much easier to configure and you don’t need a big space to arrange the accessories for performing this job. The ease of configuration makes it a more viable printing option than screen printing for both amateur and professional printers.


It Is Cost-Effective

Due to simple configuration of heat press printing facility, it is a more cost-effective printing method as compared to screen printing which is an industrial printing process that requires bigger facility and more machines and tools. Heat press printing is perfect for smaller jobs that require printing on a few dozens of items.


It Is an Ideal Solution for Complex and Multicolored Designs

Heat press printing is effective for artworks that have various graphic elements and different colors. Since it uses a transfer paper or decal to print an artwork, it can easily transfer any design on a substrate. Unlike screen printing, the design can be produced without having to use any additional tools or accessories. Thus, the overall budget of the entire project remains the same.


It Is Environmental-Friendly

Heat press printing doesn’t use any chemicals to create a design. In other words, there is little to no environmental impact of the prints produced by this type of printing. Heat press printing uses only organic materials from start to finish to produce a print.




It Is Not the Right Printing Solution for Larger Runs

Heat press printing is a long process which requires design work, weeding, cutting and printing. All these tasks demand utmost attention which in turn increases the lead time of a project. Therefore, this printing method is not suitable for larger projects.


The Print Fades with Time

Unlike screen printing, a print made from heat press printing will not last long. The print may fade over time and develop cracks after sometime.


It Is Not Suitable for Heat-Sensitive Fabrics

Since heat press printing applies heat to produce a print on a fabric, it is not an appropriate printing solution for certain heat-sensitive fabrics.


The Bottom-Line…

Screen printing and heat press printing are considered the most trusted printing methods for both amateur and professional printers.

However, they both have certain advantages and disadvantages over each other. Screen printing is apt for large projects that need production on industrial scale. On the other hand, heat press printing is perfect for small jobs and is favorable for people who want to run projects under a limited budget. So choose a printing method based on your specific preferences – time, budget and printing requirements.






  • Category: Printing
  • Tags: custom patches custom made patches