There are several ways to print your logo on a T-shirt or other promotional item. Screen printing or custom heat transfer vinyl is a common choice. This leads to the obvious question: which is better? As with many things in life, the answer depends on the situation. When it comes to debates about screen printing or custom heat transfer vinyl, your decision will depend on the cost-effectiveness, image quality and durability of the finished logo. Here we will look at both the custom screen printing process and the custom heat transfer vinyl process and provide the information you need to make an informed choice between the two methods.
Custom screen printing uses a fine mesh to create a template. Ink spreads across the screen as it travels through the screen to contact the underlying tissue.
Only one color can be used on one screen, so a multi-colored logo or image would require multiple screens to create a finished product. Custom silk-screen printing on T-shirts creates images that retain their color for a long time due to the fact that the ink soaks into the fabric.
Special custom heat transfer vinyl projects
The special custom heat transfer vinyl works with a combination of heat and pressure. There are two types of special custom heat transfer vinyl to choose from: vinyl and digital.
The more established method, vinyl custom heat transfer vinyl, uses vinyl letters and patterns that are machine cut and assembled into desired configurations. The vinyl pieces are transferred to the fabric using a hot press that creates high pressure.
In contrast, digital thermal transfer uses solvent ink to print logos and letters on specially designed thermal transfer paper. This allows the entire project to be transferred to the transfer press immediately, reducing the amount of material and time needed to complete.
Screen printing and custom heat transfer vinyl
While both silk-screen printing and hot-pressing provide excellent t-shirt prints, designs made using the two processes have some key differences. Thanks to a special screen printing, the ink stays on the fabric more easily and creates more durable, long-lasting images. Conversely, the images formed by custom heat transfer vinyl are pasted over the top layer of the fabric with a thicker layer of ink. As there is a custom heat transfer vinyl pattern on the fabric, it is prone to fading and cracking over time and is not screen printing or machine wash resistant.
Does that mean screen printing is the better option? Not necessarily. Since separate meshes are required for each image color, screen printing works best for simple projects that use several colors. The installation process is more time consuming than custom heat transfer vinyl; This means that thermo transfers are cheaper in small quantities and screen printing in larger quantities is cheaper.
In contrast, special custom heat transfer vinyl allows you to print multiple colors at the same time. The ability to change different patterns and letters makes it easy to personalize the shirts. This process allows for the use of complex designs, including photo reproduction, which is more difficult and less photorealistic for custom screen printing. Custom heat transfer vinyl’s provide better resolution than screen printing, but cost less for larger quantities.