Digital Printing vs Screen Printing: What Are the Differences?

The custom t-shirt market is going to grow by nearly 10% a year over the next 10 years. For entrepreneurs looking to start a new business, this provides a great opportunity.

It’s possible to have a lucrative t-shirt business, but you have to have more than great designs that your audience wants. The t-shirts have to be of high quality.

One of the first things you should consider when choosing a printing partner is digital printing vs. screen printing. Not knowing the difference could be the difference between a stressful or a thriving business.

We’ve got you covered because you’re about to learn the difference between digital printing and screen printing. Read on to learn more.

What Is Screen Printing?

Screen printing uses a series of screens, one for each color in a design, to apply ink to a t-shirt.

The design gets stenciled into the screen. You place the screen over the t-shirt. You can then add the color and drag the color around, forcing it through the screen and onto the t-shirt.

The ink needs to set, so it doesn’t run or wash away. It’s a very manual process, especially for designs with several colors.

This is different from offset printing. This is a traditional method where you use aluminum plates to transfer an image to a rubber roller. The roller applies the ink to the t-shirt.

What Is Digital Printing?

Digital printing is also called direct-to-garment printing. A digital printer has four main colors (black, yellow, cyan, and magenta).

The digital printer takes an image from a computer, uses the correct color combinations, and applies them to a t-shirt directly. Digital printers don’t use plates or screens.

This is great if you want to print a photo or highly detailed designs.

Comparing Digital Printing vs. Screen Printing

Digital printing and screen printing have advantages and applications that are useful to know.

Screen printing is good if you have vibrant colors in your design and want them to stand out. This is a good fit if you’re printing on materials like suede.

Digital printing uses thinner ink applications, so you can use this when you have a design that has a lot of colors.

There is a cost difference between the two. Since screen printing is a manual job and requires several screens, there’s a set-up charge to place an order.

Most screen printers require an order minimum.

For a business that’s just starting out with a low number of orders, digital printing is a better fit. Turnaround times are faster and you can print-on-demand. Click here to find out more about digital printing services.

Choose the Right Printer by Understanding Printing Techniques

Should you choose a screen printer or digital printer for your t-shirt business? Now that you know the differences between digital printing vs. screen printing, you should have an answer. 

If you plan to sell shirts and keep them in inventory, screen printing is a good fit. Digital printing is faster and it is better for designs with many colors. 

For more helpful business tips, be sure to check out the other articles on the blog today.