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How Do Digital and Screen Printing Compare?

Custom design printing has been around for many decades, and it has revolutionized the way people can express themselves. Custom printing allows both businesses and clients to create meaningful, custom designs for any occasion. 

Over the years, improvements in technology have further streamlined the custom printing process, making it easier than ever to get quality custom apparel. Nowadays, many custom printing options are available to customers. These processes vary in printing speed, overall quality, and total output.

With so many printing options available, many people wonder which method meets their needs best. The two most prominent types of printing are digital and screen printing. These two methods are popular for printing because of their overall speed and the quality of the prints they make.

However, of the two, digital printing seems to be taking off more quickly because of its ability for easy customization and full-color graphics.

Below, we’ve highlighted some of the significant features of both types of printing. This information should provide you with insight into how the custom printing process works and how efficient it has become.

Screen Printing

Here are some of the basics of screen printing:

  • Allows for 1-2 colors to be printed
  • Done mostly by hand, with the help of a screen printing press
  • Colors are manually mixed and matched
  • Slower turnarounds (usually over a week)
  • Design can fade or peel over time

Screen printing used to be the primary avenue for custom printing and design. Only allowing for one or two colors per shirt, screen printing was a limited way for a client to get custom designs printed. It also took significantly longer to print using a screen printing press than creating a digital design.

One of the significant reasons that screen printing is more time-consuming than digital printing is because it is made almost entirely by hand. A screen printing machine assists the designer in pressing the design, but other than that, the process is completely manual.

First, the design is printed out and traced onto a screen. Next, the designer prepares the screen, and areas, where the ink is not needed, are coated in an emulsion. 

Next, the designer must make the ink color. This process is also entirely manual, with the designer matching the dye by hand to the client’s design specifications. 

Afterward, the apparel for the print job goes to a screen printing press. The press lowers over the material; a designer pours ink on top of the screen, then the shirt soaks up the ink.

Lastly, the product is dried so that the ink does not spread or smear. Afterward, the product is ready to be picked up or shipped to the client.

Screen printed shirts are easy to distinguish from other types of prints. Firstly, a screen printed design will only feature a couple of colors. Secondly, the shirt’s design will have a raised, somewhat textured appearance. This effect is due to the layer of ink that was pressed and dried into the fabric. 

Additionally, screen printed shirts can be subject to fading and peeling, which reduces the screen print’s overall quality. Over time, the print layers can start to peel away or fade, taking away from the product’s overall design.

Digital Printing

Here are a few of the perks of digital printing:

  • Allows for over 16,000 colors to be printed
  • Done with a specialized digital printer
  • Digital printing allows for printing on a variety of surfaces
  • Designers can automatically match colors
  • Fast turnaround times for customers
  • Ability to print both small and large quantities
  • Print-on-demand capabilities

Digital printing offers a robust solution to custom printing and design. While screen printing only offered clients the ability to choose from a small selection of colors, digital printing provides customers with a full range of color. A client can select virtually any color they would like for their design, making digital printing a go-to option for clients interested in a full-range design.

Unlike screen printing, digital printing is quick. Designers can complete projects much more rapidly because the design is printed directly on the shirt. This process allows the shirt to fully absorb the ink, allowing the design to last longer and remain colorful and bright no matter how many times it goes through the wash.

The process is also much easier for the designer, relying less on manually pressing the design than creating the right graphic to be printed on the product. Since the process is relatively automated, the only aspect that requires manual input is the logo design.

After the client sends the logo over, printing is simple. Digital printers can print on most materials and garments, allowing for customizability on many different product types.

Which Method is Best?

This answer depends on personal perspective; however, digital printing has become one of the most popular ways to print garments over the years. The process revolutionized the custom printing scene, making it easier and faster to deliver custom prints to customers. 

One of the significant reasons people consider digital printing over screen printing is the quality of the product and service speed. Compared to screen printing, a client has more freedom in terms of color choice. 

Digital printing allows for a full scope of color, with finish times faster than screen printing. Since the process is almost entirely automated, it is much more efficient than traditional printing methods. 

Screen printing requires designers to do almost everything by hand, from the alignment to the color selection process. Digital printing gives both the client and designer more freedom, as a wider variety of colors and a more straightforward overall process make a more efficient process.

The client can fully customize their digital printed product, as they can choose to print as many colors as they wish on a variety of different product types. Because of digital printing, it is possible to create unique, full-color designs on shirts, hats, totes, and more.

Why TRUE Apparel Printing?

TRUE Apparel Printing is the perfect solution to your digital printing needs. Our quality, custom-printed products are efficiently designed and made to order.

Our talented design team will help bring your design vision to life. Our design process is simple and straightforward, leaving you with the product you want in record time. 

Our Design Process is as Easy as 1 – 2 – 3!

1. Send Your Design

Please email us a copy of your design in a PDF file to format it for printing.

2. Select Quantity and Budget

Let us know how many products you will be ordering with us. Afterward, we will give you a rough estimate of the cost. Then, you can let us know your budget and any other features you would like in your design.

3. Choose Apparel, Fabric, and Color

Using our vast selection of materials, you can select which product you’d like your design printed on, along with the type of fabric used. You can also select which color you’d like your product to be. 

Be mindful of your budget during this phase, as product type and material can change your price estimate. Keeping your budget in mind can help you determine which features are essential to your design and which ones you may not need.

Our quick 3 step process makes custom, digital printing even more effortless for clients. They can receive their quality, custom design quickly with our expert design services. 

Contact TRUE Apparel Printing

If you’re looking for custom-printed shirts or apparel, look no further than TRUE Apparel Printing. Our convenient Durango, Colorado location is here to meet your business’s printing needs. We work with clients both locally and nationally, focused on creating products made to last.

We offer printing services for all of the following:

  • T-Shirts
  • Long Sleeve Shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Hats
  • Polos
  • Tote Bags
  • Accessories

If you are interested in any of our services, we would love to assist you with your branding needs further. You can call at (970) 759-5814 or email us to request a quote for our services. We also have a contact page on our website, if that is more convenient for you. 

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