Life is about choices. Make the right ones and life will be good for you. Make bad choices, and life can become a nightmare! The same can be said about printing. Make the wrong choices, and it can cost you a chunk of your budget and time. In this article, we look at how to make the right choices and have all your printing needs met for a reasonable price and in a time frame that suits you. By explaining each printing type clearly and concisely, we will show you how to choose from the various types of printing available, to get the best, most efficient and convenient option for you.
Screen printing is the most common type of printing, perfect for bulk orders of long-lasting prints. The ink is applied to the garment through beautiful, porous, mesh screens, allowing for subtle and intricate designs. Each colour is applied individually, and therefore, the more colours there are in your design, the more time and expense in producing your garments. The printing of multiple items is usually done by this method because it is the cheapest and quickest. However, it is worth remembering that each colour involves the use of a separate screen, which increases the time is taken and the end costs. Screen printing can be done with a crackle finish, UV glow finish, glitter finish, glow in the dark finish, suede finish and gel print. Smaller orders are not economically viable using this process, and so other methods should be considered.
This method involves using special transfer paper, which is made from transferable Vinyl, to print your design. The paper is then placed on the garment and heat (an iron usually or rollers) is applied to it to transfer the print to the garment. Unfortunately, because the impression, in effect, lies on top of the fabric without actually penetrating it, the material will sometimes show through the print and even show the outline of the print paper. For people looking to do one-off prints, this is probably the method to use, especially if your designs are intricate because it is by far the cheapest option. Again, prints made using this process will not last as long as screen printing and may fade or even crack after a few washes. Also worth noting is the fact that not all garments can be printed on using this method. Due to the heat applied, only materials that can cope with this should be used to print on.
CAD cut Vinyl’s
CAD stands for Computer-Aided Design and involves the use of Vinyl which is cut using CAD. Once the Vinyl is cut, it is applied to the garment using heat. CAD cut vinyl is another great way to print small orders or even single items. The Vinyl is cut using a plotter before being applied to the garment using heat. Primary uses for this type of printing are the numbers and names on sportswear. Different kinds of Vinyl cause various effects in your printing, and this method can be done on any garment, making it very versatile. Special effects can be produced with this method, such as reflective and glow-in-the-dark printing. Each effect or colour has to be done separately so this method should only be used for single or small orders with a maximum of 3 colours. When the design is created, it is cut out. The design is then ‘weeded’, the process where excess Vinyl is picked off. It is then applied to the garment using heat. This is another printing method used for small orders as there is no setup charge.
Here are some of the many different Vinyl’s available:
Flock Heat Transfer Material:
Flock looks and feels like suede and is used for printing onto various fashion garments. It’s textured, raised velvet feel is used as an alternative to embroidery.
Thermo-Film Heat Transfer Material:
This Vinyl will not absorb dyes from the fabric (dye migration) and creates a sharp transfer. Being breathable, it is the perfect printing solution for sports shirts.
Fashion-Film Heat Transfer Material:
This is the Vinyl of choice for the fashion industry because it is perfect for making intricate designs due to its matt finish and soft, thin finish.
Plastisol heat transfers or indirect screen printing is a good option for small orders of t-shirts due to the excellent finish achievable. Submit your design to have it printed on a quality release paper, then apply it to your garment using heat. The design is screen printed on the release paper before being transferred to the garment using a decent heat press machine. This method is excellent for printing labels and produces a finish as good as any high-quality screen printed product without the need to order in bulk. This is a neat and easy way to print, without big initial outlays. The prints can be attached to the garments individually when needed, rather than doing all the printing at once.
Tagless label printing.
A great alternative to sewn-in labels is to have a printed label. We have a large selection of re-brandable garments that allows you to brand your garments completely. Read more about tagless label printing here.
This method stands out for its unique look and feel, it's durability, and it's unbeatable quality. If you are looking for a professional look for your garments, this is probably the way forward for you. Embroidery is an ancient art form, going back many years examples of this craft have been found in China from 5th-3rd century BC. And the methods haven't changed much at all, in theory. We have machines that do it for us these days, but the machines go through the same process, give or take the odd microchip, as our ancestors did in days gone by. Although this is not strictly a printing method, we have included it because it is one of the best options for attaching designs to garments. It is challenging to show fine detail in the embroidery, and this should be considered when submitting your artwork. Embroidery is the method required if you are smartening up your workforce we have a minimum order of only eight items, so you don't need to be a large corporation to give your company a professional look.
We hope this guide gives you the tools needed to make an informed choice when deciding which printing method best suits your needs. Whatever your printing needs, it is essential that you make a proper assessment first. Call us to discuss any of your requirements and queries.