A Comparative Analysis of the 4 Common Garment Printing Methods

  • Jan 17, 2019

Garment printing is an old business, and it continues to thrive. The only difference is the method of printing that has changed with time. Today, there are more printing methods than they were in the previous few decades.

Garment printing is the most common method that is used by the apparel brands around the world to produce fancy looking designs or make custom patches on clothing. Here we are going to delve deeper into the different printing methods that apparel brands use to decorate their clothing. Here we go:


1. Screen Printing

Screen Printing

Image Courtesy: Dundee Contemporary Arts

Screen printing is the oldest garment printing method among the others, and it is also the most effective solution for printing designs, custom patches or artwork on clothing. Screen printing uses a mesh as the screen to convert the ink onto the fabric. To produce a print with precision, you will need some essential tools that include stencil, squeegee, and an emulsion.

The upside of screen printing is that it can produce vibrant colors that look amazing on the garment and can last longer. The high-quality of print is due to the thick dye that delivers brilliant colors on the fabric. The other good aspect of the screen print is that you can mass produce the garment using this type of printing which makes it a more cost-effective printing method than other printing alternatives.

The only downside of this type of printing is that you cannot print multi-color dyes and elaborate artwork on the garment and you have to choose other options for this purpose. Besides, you need more space and facilities to set up a screen printing process since it uses big printing machines and apparatus.


2. Direct to Garment (DTG)

Direct To Garment

Image Courtesy: Building The Box

Direct to Garment (DTG) is another garment printing method that can convert an artwork onto a piece of clothing. This method is suitable for printing complex artwork or designs with different colors. However, it is much simpler and straightforward than the screen printing method, and you can do it just like you print a paper using an inkjet printer.

The best thing about this type of printing is that you can create intricate designs with a different range of colors. The other advantage of this printing is that it produces the print directly on to the fabric which means you don’t feel the print on the garment.

Also, it doesn’t take much time and space to set up a DTG printer, and you can start producing the print in just a few steps which makes it an ideal printing method for individuals who want to make their own custom made patches.

On the flip side, DTG uses a thin ink which makes it impossible to produce prints on dark materials. Besides, the DTG printing is only applicable to pure cotton fabric since it uses the pigment ink. Also, a DTG print is not durable, and it dies out after 50-60 washes. On the other hand, it is a costly process and requires expensive maintenance of the machinery and accessories.


3. Dye Sublimation Printing

Dye Sublimation

Image Courtesy: Ali Baba

Dye sublimation printing is another garment printing process that entails several steps for printing on an item of clothing. It operates just like DTG printing with the only exception that it uses a heat transfer process to create a print on fabric.

The dye sublimation process is relatively simple. Firstly, you will create an artwork on a computer that you will print on a transfer paper. In the next step, the print will go through a heat transfer process which will convert the dye into a gas which in turn diffuses the fiber of the garment.

A dye sublimation printing is more durable than any other printing method as the print is fused into the garment. Therefore, it stays with the fabric for the rest of its life. Moreover, the material feels soft to the body. With dye sublimation process, you can print garments in full color even when you want to make your own patch.

However, there are limitations to this type of printing. Firstly, it is only applicable to polyester and blended fabrics, and you cannot use this printing method on 100% cotton garments. Besides, a dye sublimation method is costlier than other garment printing methods. The other negligible drawback of this printing is that it doesn’t print the folds and creases in a garment.

4. Heat Transfer Printing

Heat Transfer Printing

Image Courtesy: Dubai T-Shirts Hub

As its name suggests, heat transfer printing uses the heat to transfer a design from a paper to fabric. The majority of manufacturers of promo products uses this method as they find it a better and cheaper solution to produce prints on different materials.

It is a better alternative to all the printing methods mentioned above since you can print any design on any garment regardless of its texture. Whether you want to create your own patch or apply a logo of a famous brand, you can apply this printing method on your garment. The majority of people use vinyl material to transfer a design from a paper to the clothing.

In addition, it is the easiest printing process among the rest of the available options. All you need to do is take a print on a heat transfer paper using a solvent ink. Once the impression is acquired, you can transfer it onto the garment. 

But before you proceed to the printing process, you need to preheat the garment for 10-15 seconds to remove any folds and creases. In the next step, you will put the print on the garment and heat press it for 10-15 seconds at a temperature of 330 degrees Fahrenheit. And that’s it. You’ll have the print on the garment.

Garment printing is an effective method to create eye-catching artwork and designs on an article of clothing. These all are the best garment printing methods that professionals and enthusiasts use to get prints on the garment. You can choose any of these printing methods depending on your specific requirements.





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