When it comes to comparing sublimation vs. screen printing, there are many factors to talk about. If you are wondering which method is more suitable for your printing choice, you are in the right place.
Both printing options are excellent, however, just like when considering between screen printing and digital printing, you need to define your needs and demands first.
You can start by answering yourself some questions like “How many do I want to print?”, “How do I want the design to look after printing?”, “How long can I wait?”, etc. After that, you will find it easier to decide your preferred method.
In this topic, you will find explanations about each, and detailed comparison following significant aspects. Let’s get started!
What is screen printing?
This method is a printing process that involves using a squeegee, a mesh screen, a stencil, and ink. Ink is pressed to t-shirts by the squeegee, through the stencil, and on the mesh screen. Screen printing results can be achieved by hands or an automatic machine.
What is sublimation printing?
This technique uses a sublimation printer for t-shirts and a heat press machine to dye the shirts. Technically, a digital image is prepared beforehand, then printed on a sublimation paper. The heat press machine will help transfer the image onto the blank surface and make a sublimation tee.
Screen printing vs. sublimation print t-shirts
As you can see, these two printing methods are different in both technical processes and required equipment. It’s time for us to dig deeper into the results obtained from each technique through the 5 features below:
To apply colors on shirts using screen printing, each ink color is pressed onto the surface with one stencil. When the design has many colors, there will be multiple stencils needed for the process. Whereas, dye-sublimation printer for t-shirts allows you to print many colors at the same time.
Therefore, if you have complicated designs that need to be printed fast, sublimation is a more preferable choice. It is also better at securing the designs because compared to screen printing, every part of the image is printed at once.
Both printing techniques offer lively images on shirts. However, screen printing tends to look more accurate and vibrant, especially on dark garments.
This happens due to the different ink types used in both methods. While sublimation t-shirt printing uses CMYO (cyan, magenta, yellow, overcoat) ink, screen printing applies other types to create metallic, 3D, foil, etc. effects. Thus, many people who want to have exact designs printed tend to go for screen printing with plastisol ink.
Screen printing works best when it comes to printing repeatedly in bulk. After setting all stencils and ink colors, it is very fast to have a large number of shirts printed that look the same.
At the same time, because sublimation brings less complex results, it processes faster with individual items. When printing in a large order, this technique still requires more time than the other one. So, if you have a variety of designs in small batches, choose dye sublimation printing.
Talking about how durable the printing results between sublimation vs screen printing, the winner of this round has to be dye-sublimation.
Thanks to the heating process, sublimation t-shirt printing makes sure the garment is fully filled in ink. So, when comparing with screen printing that only lays ink on top of the fabric, sublimation is sure to achieve better durability.
It is possible to use the screen printing technique to work on both various types of fabrics (cotton, polyester, etc.) and other hard elements like glass, ceramic, and plastic.
In comparison, sublimation mostly applies to polyester garments together with a few plastic objects. Also, it works best when the printing surface has light colors.
Another important aspect to consider is the cost to print shirts using these two methods.
The answer may surprise you. As both screen printing and sublimation takes plenty of time and effort, it is usually very costly either type you use. However, if you know each work, you will be able to save lots of money.
If you want to print large amounts of shirts with simple designs, choose screen printing. But if your designs are complex and need to be printed in small batches, it is more affordable to pick sublimation.
There are advantages and disadvantages for each printing, therefore, consider your demands carefully and pick your preferable one.
To conclude, choose screen printing when:
- You want to print simple images (having few colors and little complexity) and in bulk
- Working with other elements than pure fabrics
- You need to print in dark colors
Whereas, sublimation will be more suitable if:
- Your designs have multiple colors and complex patterns
- You don’t need to print your designs in a large amount
- You want your designs to stay longer and more durable
So, what is your preference between sublimation vs screen printing? Tell me what you think, and check out my other comparison posts for the best choice!