When it comes to printing designs onto garments, there are several methods to choose from. Two popular options are traditional screen printing and using heat transfers. In this article, we'll compare these two methods to help you decide which is best for your needs.

Traditional Screen Printing

Traditional screen printing involves using a stencil, or screen, to apply ink to the garment. The ink is forced through the stencil and onto the fabric using a squeegee. This method is ideal for printing large quantities of garments with a single design. Screen printing offers a high-quality, long-lasting result and is perfect for designs with solid colors or bold lines.

Pros:

  • High-quality and durable prints.
  • Perfect for printing large quantities of garments with a single design.
  • Ideal for designs with solid colors or bold lines.

Cons:

  • Limited color depending on the press’s screen capabilities.
  • Requires expensive equipment and skilled labor.
  • Longer turnaround time.

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Heat Transfers

Heat transfers involve printing the design onto transfer paper using a special printer and then using heat to transfer the design onto the garment. This method is ideal for small quantities of garments or designs with multiple colors. Heat transfers are easy to use and require minimal equipment. They also offer the ability to print photographic designs with high detail.

Pros:

  • Ability to print photographic designs with high detail.
  • Ideal for small quantities of garments or designs with multiple colors.
  • Easy to use and require minimal equipment.

Cons:

  • Less durable compared to screen printing.
  • Can result in cracking or fading over time.
  • Limited to certain fabrics and cannot be used on some materials.

PLASTISOL HEAT TRANSFERS

There’s one more option that combines the best of both the screen printing and heat transfer worlds: plastisol heat transfers. If made properly, plastisol heat transfers can last almost as long as a standard screen print and can be much easier to apply in certain scenarios like decorating hats, neck labels, names for sport apparel, and more.

Pros: 

  • Easy to print in bulk and save for later.
  • Utilizes screen printing techniques and equipment.
  • Can be easily adhered to a garment using a heat press.

Cons: 

  • Not ideal for large designs. 
  • Improper adhesion can cause the transfer to peel or crack.
  • Colors limited to the number of print heads on a screen printing press.

RELATED: HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN PLASTISOL HEAT TRANSFERS

Both traditional screen printing and heat transfers have their own advantages and disadvantages. If you're looking for a high-quality, long-lasting print and are printing a large number of garments with a single design, traditional screen printing is the way to go. However, if you're printing a smaller quantity of garments or a design with multiple colors, heat transfers may be the better option. Ultimately, the choice between these two methods will depend on your specific needs and budget.