When you open a small business, you join a club that includes tens of millions of other businesses. The good news is that you only compete directly with a small percentage of them. Even so, that means a concentrated marketing effort.
While many businesses focus on online options, direct mail, and even TV ads, just as many businesses look for other options. One of those options is printed materials like t-shirts. When you go to make your first t-shirt order, you’ll discover the screen printing vs digital printing divide.
Wondering about the difference? Keep reading for a quick overview of each, as well as their pros and cons.
What is Screen Printing?
The essential screen printing process is straightforward. You put a substrate like a t-shirt flat in a tray and place a mesh on top of it. A stencil covers portions of the mesh and prevents ink from passing through.
Ink or a similar material is pressed through the parts of the mesh the stencil doesn’t cover, which creates an image on the t-shirt.
Benefits of Screen Printing
Screen printing offers several benefits such as versatility in what materials you can use. It’s excellent for high-volume orders. You also get better durability from the prints.
Disadvantages of Screen Printing
Screen printing has always been labor-intensive in terms of setup and production. For more complicated images, it can take multiple stencils to apply the right shapes and colors.
That makes it a slower process. It also drives up the price on small orders.
What Is Digital Printing?
Digital printing or direct-to-garment printing takes a different approach. Your t-shirts go through a printer that applies ink to the shirt. The ink bonds with the shirt material instead of adhering to the shirt surface.
Benefits of Digital Printing
Digital printing can apply complicated images in a single pass since it uses a digital image and printer. You avoid the hassle of multiple stencils. That makes it ideal for small, rush orders.
Disadvantages of Digital Printing
One of the big disadvantages of direct-to-garment printing is that it works best on cotton garments. Other materials don’t soak up the ink as well, which can leave you with muddled images. If you prefer a polyester or even a polycotton blend, direct-to-garment won’t work well.
The printing process isn’t particularly fast, so it doesn’t stack up well against screen printing for large orders.
Screen Printing Vs Digital Printing
The screen printing vs digital printing is less of a direct contrast than it seems at first glance. Yes, both offer ways you can print t-shirts, but they don’t cater to identical markets.
Screen printing serves businesses that want big orders of a design and don’t mind waiting a little while. You get a high-quality product on pretty much any fabric, but you wait for it. Digital printing caters to businesses that want small runs of a print on cotton shirts and need them soon.
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