The Ultimate Guide to T-Shirt Printing: Techniques and Tips
Shubham Anil Jain
Cent Edge Solutions LLP, Bangalore, India
In today’s scenario, it is very clear that t-shirts are one of the most trendy items to sell. Inexpensive and easily customizable are special feature of this product, even they are the great way to initiate in creating your brand and building a following. So, here T-shirt printing has become an progressively important method for individuals and businesses to explore their creativity and do the marketing of their brands. Whether you’re a DIY lover or a professional looking for an opportunity to uplift your printing skills, mastering the skill and well as art of t-shirt printing can open up a world of opportunities. In this comprehensive article, we will explain various techniques and share important tips to help you achieve outstanding results with your t-shirt printing business.
Different T-Shirt Printing Techniques:
1. Screen printing:
It is considered as one of the classic choice for T-shirt printing. Screen printing is popularly recognized as the industry standard printing process due to its exceptional and long-lasting results. This process simply deals with making a stencil, which is also known as a screen, and using it to cover the printing surface with layers of ink. To get the final touch, every color is applied one at a time by utilizing a different stencil.
- Screen-printed designs are famous for their durability and resistance to wear and tear.
- It is cost effective way, the more shirts you print, the cheaper the cost per shirt will be. It is prominently used for bulk orders.
- With the help of this technique, it brings out vibrant colors, making it great choice for designs that required eye-catching hues.
- It is not cost effective method for small orders, because of the setup required; small orders can be relatively expensive.
- It offers only limited colour choices, if you have a design with a lot of different colors or gradients.
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2. Direct to garment (DTG):
It is considered as one of the modern method of T-shirt printing. This printing technique is like using a printer to apply ink directly onto the t-shirt. DTG printing method is a relatively new technology that gives full high-resolution, full-color prints directly onto t-shirts. Its working principle is similarly to an inkjet printer but is particularly designed for fabric. This method is superb for designs that are incredibly intricate and involve a huge range of colors.
- DTG enables printing detailed designs with precision and clarity.
- No colour limitations with this printing technique. One can easily print images in full color without any extra effort and money.
- It provides huge flexibility and concerned as a great option for small orders or one-offs.
- Generally this technique is found more expensive per shirt than screen printing.
- When it comes to durability, it may not be as durable as screen printing, particularly after many washes.
3. Heat transfer:
It is very versatile and user-friendly technique. Heat transfer simply involves printing a design onto a special kind of paper and then transferring it onto the t-shirt with the help of heat and pressure. This method is well known for DIY enthusiasts and small entrepreneurs due to its accessibility and versatility. This technique is more preferable for small-scale industries and works great for detailed designs, photographs, and multi-color prints.
- It’s found relatively easy to learn and doesn’t require a much investment in equipment.
- It is versatile technique and suitable for small orders as well as can print complicated color designs.
- It is found that the final print might not feel as involved into the fabric as other methods.
- It is not durable as the design may crack or fade over a particular period of time.
4. Dye sublimation:
This technique is more suitable for polyester. This technique works good on light-colored polyester fabrics. In this technique, it turns the solid dye into a gas with the help of heat and pressure, which then particularly bonds with the fabric, resulting in a high, and good quality print.
- It produces good quality vibrant and high-definition images.
- The dye becomes part of the fabric, which make it more durable in nature.
- This technique is limited to Polyester fabric only, not suitable for all fabric types.
- This technique is more expensive because of the materials and equipment required.
5. Vinyl cutting:
This technique is suitable for the bold graphics. This simply involves first cutting out designs on colored vinyl and then going for heat pressing them onto the t-shirt. This method is preferable for bold graphics and designs that require a superior level of durability.
- It is very durable in nature and great for high-impact designs.
- It is highly flexible, which is good for both small and large orders.
- This technique is not great for designs with intricate details or a lot of different colours.
- Due to vinyl, it can make the t-shirt feel heavier and become less flexible.
6. Embroidery printing:
This technique basically involves adding custom designs or logos to fabrics. It is a combination of stitching and printing techniques. However, it involves developing a digital image of the design. The image is then transferred into a series of stitches sewn onto the fabric with the help embroidery machine. This process basically creates a three-dimensional aesthetic effect that is both durable as well as visually attracting. It is great option for developing a handmade effect for selling t-shirts at higher prices.
- Embroidery is considered as a highly durable technique of decoration. It has ability to sustain many washing and wearing without fading or peeling.
- Also, it can easily deal with laundering and high heat easily.
- Also, this technique offers excellent colour accuracy. It is suitable technique for highly detailed designs and logos.
- The embroidery technique can be sometimes time-consuming and labor-intensive. So, it’s not found suitable for a quick turnaround time.
- Additionally, the cost associated with an embroidery printing machine is very higher than other techniques, such as screen printing or heat transfer printing.
Important Tips for T-Shirt Printing:
Below are some step-by-step t-shirt printing guiding tips to get the best t-shirt printing solution.
a) Line up with your purpose:
As we know that, people tend to have different types of purpose. So the first guiding tip is to set the purpose very accurately so that you can act accordingly. Simply think either you are looking to increase brand awareness or manufactures many tee-shirts for batch-mates or just for yourself. However, you see, whatever the purpose is- it’s all more or less regarding branding.
b) Decide on quality, quantity & cost:
Do you know how much T-shirt printing costs? On average, it is estimated that a single-piece T-shirt costs around £5 to £10. But when we go for bulk printing, it would be more cost-effective. It basically costs around £1 to £4. Now depending on your demands and needs i.e., design quality, production quantity, and printing method, you will have to set the project.
c) Choose an accurate method from different t-shirt printing methods:
Having a correct and precise knowledge of most types of t-shirt printing methods will benefit you. It guides you to contrast and select better. So go through the T-Shirt printing techniques which are explained above and consider using all the necessary t-shirt printing equipment!
d) Create your design:
In today’s scenario, we definitely hear about people searching like ‘what is the custom t-shirt printing near me’ and try to make happy them. Always remember that happiness comes when the design works. It would help if you struggled hard to come up with an amazing design. And here comes the importance of a professional designer or a designing shop that treats designing as worship and their career.
The broadly categorized 5 types of t-shirt design are as follows:
- Typography designs
- Photography designs
- Graphic designs
- Branded designs
- Halftone designs
e) Select colours and fabric:
As a aspect of design element, color is highly important no matter in custom t-shirt printing or the other technique. It helps in translation of your style and personality. Here are two things that one must consider – the T-shirt colour and the colour which are going to use for print. Always select the combination that rocks. On the other side, the procurement of fabric should rely on the printing method. Such as, you can choose cotton for screen and direct-to-garment printing, whereas polyester for transfer, and sublimation printing.
f) Get the best logistic solution:
Now most importantly is to select your t-shirt printing machine.
So, following are some of the best printing machine that one can buy and use for their business:
- Sportsman 10 colour / 12 station 2. Automatic Textile Press
- Brother GTX Pro DTG Direct-to-Garment Printer
- Epson Sublimation Printer
- Flatbed Screen Printing Machine
g) Try to be on correct placement:
The placement of the design plays a vital role in T-Shirt printing. Below are some of the placing points of a t-shirt design. These are-
- Large and centered
- Across the chest
- Across the back
- Entire back
Now as per your customer requirements, you will have to go for any.
T-shirt printing is an amazing and varied field, which gives a range of techniques to suit various requirements and preferences. From the traditional technique of screen printing to the innovative techniques like DTG and digital laser transfer, every technique has something unique and special to the table. With the help of these techniques, you can develop your creativity and produce t-shirts that not only look great but also tell a story and attracts the people.
- GAPSSG, JUNE 16, 2023, The Ultimate Guide to T-Shirt Printing: Techniques and Tips https://globalasiaprintings.com/blog/the-ultimate-guide-to-t-shirt-printing-techniques-and-tips/
- Printbritannia Team, 19.08.2021, An Ultimate Custom T-shirt Printing Guide You Should Follow https://www.printbritannia.com/blogs/article/112/t-shirt-printing
- The Ultimate Guide to T Shirt Printing Methods: Which One is the Best for You? https://tshirtprinting.london/best-t-shirt-printing-method/
- Anurag Rathod, The Ultimate Guide To T-Shirt Printing Techniques https://www.darbaar.com/t-shirt-printing-techniques/
- Natasha Bullen, 17 September 2021, Your Ultimate Guide to the Different Types of T-Shirt Printing Methods https://www.contrado.co.uk/blog/t-shirt-printing-methods/
Q1. What is the most efficient method of t-shirt printing?
Ans: It is found that, the screen printing, or silkscreen printing, is one of the traditional t-shirt printing methods available. And one of the most efficient, too also.
Q2. What type of t-shirt printing lasts the longest?
Ans: As per analysis and reports, Dye sublimation lasts longer than screen printing.
Q3. Which color is used in t-shirt printing?
Ans: If you want the t-shirt to align a specific color, then it’s best to go for a Pantone color. This is because Pantone colors are very standardized, so you can be sure that the colour you select will be reproduced accurately when it is printed.
Q4. Which ink is best for t-shirt printing?
Ans: Plastisol ink is the most popularly used ink in the industry. It is durable, versatile, opaque, and able to lay down a crisp and detailed print.
Q5. Can printed t-shirts be ironed?
Ans: Do not iron over the print. Ironing over prints is not a good suggestion and one should avoid it. High heat can cause damage to the print, so strictly avoid it.
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- Different Types of T-shirts with Lots of Graphics
- How to Choose the Best Fabric for Custom Shirt Printing
- Latest Developments in Textile Printing Techniques
Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.