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Screen Printing vs. Heat Transfer

Posted on 18 December 2017

When it comes to customized clothing, you may be wondering about screen printing or heat transfer. Both methods are used to create custom designs on everything from T-shirts to hats to tote bags. Each process has their own pros and cons; however, screen printing seems to be the method of choice for most printing companies.

What is screen printing?

Screen printing is a printing process that uses actual screens to replicate designs onto everything from clothing to posters. This process is sometimes referred to as silk-screening or silk screen printing due its early origins when silk was used to transfer pictures and designs to other materials. Nowadays, screen printing involves uses a screen cut into a stencil featuring the design of your choice. Then, ink is spread over the screen enabling it to pass through onto the material underneath. Each colour needed for the design will require its own screen making for a more vibrant design. Screen printing allows for advanced accuracy since the ink will only penetrate the materials underneath in the areas you want.

How does heat transfer work?

Using a combination of heat and pressure, heat transfer relocates a design onto a material. The design is usually broken down into different elements such as letters and pictures so that when they are pressed onto the item the ink is more likely to permanently adhere to the material. In the custom design world, two types of heat transfer methods are used; vinyl heat transfer and digital print heat transfer. For vinyl heat transfer, heavy machinery is needed to cut pieces of the design onto coloured vinyl. Then, the heat from the machine is able to transfer each colour onto the customized item. For digital print heat transfer a special ink is used to digitally print the design onto the material using heat. Machinery is also required for this type of heat transfer.

Screen printing or heat transfer: Which is better?

Screen printing or heat transfer are both common methods for customizing items. Although heat transfer may seem like it requires less manpower, it entails the same amount of time and effort as screen printing. Because screen printing uses different screens for each colour, your items will be more vibrant and have less chance of fading over time. Furthermore, most people are looking to make bulk orders for their customized clothing since it is needed to outfit an entire team or group and screen printing is the better option for larger orders (12 or more). Plus, when you order screen printed items in bulk, you are actually saving money.

R&P Prints can help you decide if you’d like screen printing or heat transfer for your custom clothing. We offer free estimates with no setup fees and a huge selection of clothing like hats, T-shirts, polo shirts, bags, shorts, pants and more. With free delivery and full size runs for women, men and children, you can’t go wrong when you choose R&P Prints for your screen printing or heat transfer needs.

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