Wouldn’t it be fascinating to know what goes into the process of turning a plain t-shirt into one that has a design and sometimes even a message? In addition, you need to understand the difference between the different best t-shirt printing methods and techniques, whether you are starting a printing company or selling custom tee shirts for the first time.
A certain printing technique might be best suited to a job depending on its volume. At the same time, some printing techniques are best suited to specific fabrics. In addition, the type of printing you end up using will also be determined by the number of colors in the design you plan to print. There are so many variables to consider!
This guide will discuss the various printing methods and what T-shirts should be used for printing. We will untangle all the confusion regarding shirt printing.
- What is the Best Type of T-Shirt for Printing?
- Factors To Consider Before Choosing The Best Printing Method
- What Do I Need To Print T-Shirts At Home?
- 7 Best T-Shirt Printing Methods in 2021
What is the Best Type of T-Shirt for Printing?
Printing can be done on different types of T-shirts. However, it will be difficult for a novice to start a T-shirt printing business to determine the best fabric. Here is a list of clothing fabrics to choose from:
The components of a t-shirt are made from cotton, which is spun into yarn and woven into fabric. A higher cotton percentage results in a more vivid print when it comes to DTG printing. In addition, these natural fiber fabrics tend to print better and last longer than synthetic fabrics.
Cotton, however, is not all the same. It is normal for cotton to be ring-spun and combed, but ring-spun cotton tends to be softer and more durable than regular cotton.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a man-made polymer that is a type of polyester. Polyester is a lightweight and strong material. Therefore, fabrics made of polyester are a popular choice for fast fashion.
In contrast to direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, polyester t-shirts are best suited for sublimation printing. However, most tees are best printed using DTG because it is the most precise method.
Ringspun cotton is a more premium composition for print-on-demand t-shirts. Through the process of ring spinning, cotton fibers are twisted tighter and thinner. The result is a more durable fabric. Additionally, it helps create a smooth surface that improves the print quality.
Organic cotton is, as you imagine, processed without any synthetic agricultural chemicals *such as pesticides, which are harmful to the earth and humans alike. Instead, organic cotton is harvested after the seed has been treated.
A blended fabric consists of a mixture of two or more different fibers. The most common combination is natural and synthetic fibers. There are different types of blended fabrics which are as follows:
As the name suggests, polycotton is a combination of polyester and cotton. By combining them, you could say that each material is ironed out. In contrast to pure cotton, which shrinks or changes shape, and pure polyester, which is not breathable, polycotton is more durable and breathable than either.
Rayon is added to the Polycotton blend to create the Triblend. A combination of Rayon and Cotton, a semi-synthetic fiber, softens the material. In addition, the combination of the three fibers reduces the boldness of colors when printed.
Factors To Consider Before Choosing The Best Printing Method
Fabrics cannot all be treated the same way. For example, the last thing you want to do with a cotton shirt is to use dye sublimation, as it will ruin it. There is a preferred type of fabric for each method, and it is a good idea to check them beforehand.
Even though each printing technique offers unique advantages, Screen Printing is the most popular and widely used method because it provides superior results. Select the printing method according to the fabric of the clothes for best results.
You should plan your design with concrete thinking in mind to get a reasonable price for bulk t-shirt printing. To create versatile T-shirts, you should choose a printing method that will allow you to experiment with new prints.
The screen printing method allows you to create the shirts of your dreams. You can experiment with different designs easily. With so many T-shirt printing methods to choose from, choose the one that best meets your design needs.
Know your Audience
If you know who your target audience is, custom printing can be magical. Whether it’s for a company, a beauty brand, or football plans, you should know your audience.
Once you choose the audience, things will become much easier and simpler. You can easily pick out the printing method you want based upon what your custom requirements are. For instance, if your audience has got a thing for large designs, you can use the Dye Sublimation printing method.
What Do I Need To Print T-Shirts At Home?
For beginners unaware of T-shirt printing equipment while not wanting to spend too much, here is a review of some of the most important equipment for T-shirt printing for beginners.
If you don’t want to use a heat press T-shirt printing method, you can go with screen printing. The printing method you choose depends on your budget and requirements.
Once you’ve evaluated the pros and cons of each technique, you’ll need to invest in a screen printing machine. You may need a separate screen for separate colors.
If you choose to go with the heat press printing method, know two heat press options: manual and electric heat press. The electric heat press machine is best for professional t-shirt printing, while, on the other hand, a manual heat press is perfect for beginners.
This is primarily due to its simplicity and affordability. Once you get the hang of the manual machine, you can switch to an electric heat press since it will increase the speed of printing T-shirts.
Unless you want to cut all of your designs by hand, a cutting machine is essential. A heat transfer machine allows for cutting out an image so that you can put it directly on the shirt. But, of course, the best way to ensure your designs are accurate is to invest in a good quality one.
You should apply emulsion to your screens before screen printing because they are very sensitive to light. A thin emulsion layer will reduce this sensitivity, allowing ink to be evenly distributed, so your print is sharp. However, be sure to apply a thick emulsion layer to each screen, so buy in bulk.
Drying is the last step in the screen printing process. One of the most important pieces of T-shirt printing equipment is the dryer, as it cures the ink and sets it into the fabric. A good dryer will let you increase your turnaround time and develop your T-shirt printing business.
Before you choose to buy the transfer paper, you must consider the fabric’s color and the design you’re printing. You need to use a heat transfer paper explicitly designed for light-colored garments when transferring onto white shirts.
The paper has a transparent covering, so any gaps in the design take on the shirt’s color. Dark heat transfer paper is required for dark garments. Any unprinted section of the paper will reflect white on the shirt due to the white covering.
7 Best T-Shirt Printing Methods in 2021
1-Screen Printing Method
The most popular method for t-shirt printing is screen printing. Today, screen printing is done by both machines and by hand. So, why is it so popular? Using screen printing inks is part of the magic of screen printing. Unlike traditional t-shirt printing methods, screen printing inks are thicker and produce vibrant colors that last longer.
You should use high-quality inks on your screen printer because using low-quality ink will cause the images to fade away quickly. The best thing about screen printing is that it is relatively inexpensive. However, since each color requires its screen, designing for multiple colors can be very expensive.
If you want screen printing to be cost-effective, you need to print many t-shirts simultaneously with the same design. In addition, the design should have a minimum amount of colors and locations.
Who Can Use It?
- If you are going to print large borders on T-shirts having the same basic designs.
- For those who want to print cotton, rayon, and polyester T-shirts.
- Vivid and bright colors are produced in screen printing ink due to its deep absorption.
- When you use the correct combination of inks and screens for the fabric you will be working on; it works with most fabrics.
- After setting the machine up, hundreds of T-shirts can be produced at lightning speed.
- If you plan to screen-print it at home, keep in mind that it gets messy. You will be working with ink, so there will probably be spillages.
- You would need a sufficient amount of area to set up the printing workspace.
- Screen printing is suitable if you’re only using 3-4 different colors.
2-Heat Press Printing
A Heat Transfer Printing process involves placing sheets of transfer material over garments and then heat pressing them. Custom graphics are then permanently applied to the garments.
A digital image is first digitally printed onto a special heat transfer paper to create the desired graphic. Then, when pressed with a heat press machine, this type of ink allows the design to be transferred from paper to t-shirt.
Heat transfer printing is an excellent method because it works on various materials and fabrics, creates almost no mess, and requires minimal maintenance compared to other methods.
Who Can Use It?
- Those who are looking for an affordable option to print T-shirts.
- For those who want different color combinations for designing.
- Some of the heat press printing machines are affordable.
- Very easy to set up.
- A variety of colors and places can be included in a garment.
- The prints look best on light-colored t-shirts.
- Prints may fade after several washes.
Direct-to-Garment printing uses inkjet technology to print photographic prints directly onto a t-shirt, producing a high-quality, full-color image. The benefit of DTG printing is that it is best for artwork and designs too complex for other printing methods, such as screen printing, which is best suited for plans with fewer colors.
Due to their large color mixing capacity, DTG printing machines can print even the most minute of details. It is possible to print in unlimited colors, even up to 100 colors.
In addition, prints and patterns can be custom designed by the consumer, including a name and a photograph. These machines are meant to be used by those who wish to invest in a high-end machine to produce high-quality T-shirts for sale.
Who Can Use It?
- If you’re a seller who is dealing with smaller orders having complex designs.
- For those who want to print any color combination of T-shirts.
- You can print as many colors as you like. You have no color restriction!
- Since DTG printing machines inject ink directly into the fabric, you won’t feel the ‘print’ when you touch the fabric.
- When compared to screen printing, setup times are short. It takes less than 30 minutes to have a T-shirt printed.
- DTG machines are costly.
- They are best designed on shirts that are made of 100% cotton.
- It is limited in terms of placement.
- The DTG requires maintenance.
4-Dye Sublimation Printing
The Dye Sublimation printing machine works best with white polyester t-shirts; it also works well with man-made fabrics. Additionally, it works on 50% polyblend t-shirts and even pre-treated fabrics, but it varies in success depending on the fabric type.
In this process, the dye turns into vapour and is absorbed into the polyester fabric of the t-shirt. Dye-based inks go from a solid to a gas state and then back to a solid again due to heat, pressure, and time.
A dye-sublimation print can create an all-over print effect that neither screenprinting nor DTG printing can. Thus, designers can express themselves fully with all-over prints on t-shirts.
Dye Sublimation Printing is best for making customized printing products such as mugs, T-shirts, key chains, and many others. You’ll have to use the machine frequently to prevent the printing heads from drying.
Who Can Use It?
- Those who want to print Polyester T-shirts with complex designs.
- A printer who doesn’t want to invest a lot of money to begin printing.
- Can easily do all overprinting.
- Prints will not fade, crack, peel, or deteriorate.
- The print is going to last for a long.
- It works best on polyester or polyblend T-shirts.
- Suitable for white T-shirts.
5-Plastisol Transfer Printing
Plastisol heat transfers are a popular option for t-shirt printing because they produce very good results and feel soft. The printing method is called indirect screen printing. This process is very similar to screen printing, except that the artwork is first printed on plastisol transfer paper, and then you use the paper to heat press the design onto the shirt.
With this method, one-time printing orders are not that expensive. It produces similar results to a screen-printed design. It takes less time as well. Many t-shirt companies use this method. It is possible to send your designs to companies that print them on high-quality plastisol transfer paper and then ship them to you.
- The designs can be arranged on a single transfer paper, then cut and printed separately.
- Suitable for full-color and limited-color jobs.
- The t-shirt can be positioned in a variety of ways.
- Transfers that are not made correctly will crack and wash away fairly quickly.
- You may need hands-on experience before using this machine.
6-CAD Cut Vinyl Printing
In this method, vinyl cutouts are applied with heat to the t-shirt (in a matte or gloss finish). Then, using a machine, the design is cut from solid-colored vinyl sheets.
Printing vinyl is a straightforward one-color process, which is relatively cost-effective compared to buying special cutters. CAD Cut Vinyl can be used on any material. So the options are pretty endless. However, due to the nature of vinyl, vinyl only comes in one solid color, so mixing colors is limited. This is a major disadvantage of CAD Cut Vinyl.
With CAD Cut Vinyl Printing, logos, names, numbers, etc., are printed onto vinyl sheets and then pressed onto T-shirts. In addition to its amazing look on a t-shirt, vinyl’s texture creates a three-dimensional look.
Who Should Use It?
- Printers who want to print T-shirts with fewer colors and having basic shapes and texts.
- Suitable for small orders.
- Vinyl can be easily used on all types of fabric.
- Cutting out the vinyl sheet for each design can be a tedious process.
- It’s only suited for simple graphics with basic shapes like text-based designs.
7-Hand and Spray Painting Method
In the age of technology, we mainly print on fabric using machines. The old-fashioned method of printing on t-shirts should not be forgotten, however. This may be the simplest way to print. Using fabric paint or spray paint, you can color your shirts. You can experiment with different techniques.
The most important thing to remember is that you must check the quality of your shirt and whether certain colors work with it in advance. If you choose this option, be sure to get high-quality paints.
The process is pretty straightforward. All you have to do is directly spray on the shirt and once you’re done, let it dry. This method is best for those who consider themselves creative artists and know how to play around with sprays to paint shirts.
- Unlimited possibilities of designs.
- This method is very inexpensive.
- It isn’t durable.
- It isn’t suitable for orders in bulk.