Comparing Heat Transfer vs Screen Printing T-shirt
Screen Printing vs Heat Transfer
Let’s get right down to it. When a design is produced using the screen printing method, actual screens are used in the process! Essentially, this screen is cut to make a stencil for the design. Ink is then spread over the screen, passing through to the object underneath only in the areas you want it to be. Only one color per screen can be used - so depending on the number of colors in the design, you’ll need multiple screens to produce the final item.
The heat transfer printing method applies custom designs to items like t-shirts or tablecloths through a process that uses a combination of heat and pressure. Common kinds of heat transfer printing include vinyl heat transfer and digital print heat transfer. With the vinyl heat transfer process, a machine is used to cut out designs and letters in pieces of colored vinyl. A heat press is then used to transfer each vinyl color of the design onto the object being printed. With digital print heat transfer, the desired graphic is first digitally printed on special heat transfer paper using a solvent ink. This type of ink allows the design to be transferred from the paper to the item being printed when pressed with heat. With both these types of heat transfer, a heat press machine will be needed to transfer the graphic, either vinyl or digitally printed, from one surface to another. It’s the magical combination of heat and pressure that transfers the design!
Which Printing Type Should You Choose?
The best printing type for you depends on what type of item you are customizing and how many you would like in total. Because unique screens need to be cut for each color of a screen printed design, it is much more cost effective to produce a larger number of items with this method, versus just a few at a time. For example, we prefer screen print orders of at least 500 units. Conversely, the heat transfer process is the same with every print made, so you can order just a couple items at a time without costs ballooning.