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Article: Screen Printing Vs Heat Press: Better Method For T-Shirts

Screen Printing Vs Heat Press: Better Method For T-Shirts

There are various printing methods available, but between screen printing and heat press, which one is better for your t-shirt designs? Let's find out!

Graphic t-shirts have been one of the most popular fashion items and are in great demand by the public. As the year progresses, the demand for graphic t-shirts is increasing, especially this year. There are various t-shirt printing methods available, but in this article, we will compare screen printing vs heat-press; which one is better?


T-shirt Printing

Before going into a more specific discussion about the comparison between a heat press and screen printing, you must first understand what t-shirt printing is and what its benefits are.

In the fashion industry, t-shirts are one of the most widely used and best-selling items. This is due to the versatile and flexible nature of the t-shirt, which can be used for all purposes and interests.

You can wear t-shirts for casual, formal, semi-formal events, and you can even wear t-shirts for almost all types of events and purposes. However, the community's t-shirts certainly want variations on their t-shirts to match the look they want.

Therefore, there is a t-shirt printing method to print a design onto the surface of the t-shirt so that the t-shirt becomes more varied and attractive. There are various t-shirt printing methods that can be chosen to print a design onto the surface of a t-shirt.

However, the t-shirt printing method that is most often chosen by people and the most popular is screen printing and also heat press. Both of these methods have their respective advantages and disadvantages when compared to each other.

These two methods are the best and most recommended t-shirt printing methods if you want to print an attractive design on your t-shirt. When you want to choose to use screen printing or heat press as your t-shirt printing method, you must first know the characteristics of the printing results of the two methods. 

If you already know the information, then you can determine which t-shirt printing method is the best and suits your needs, whether it is screen printing or heat press.

Created by goldenpressstudio |


1. Screen Printing

Screen printing is one of the most popular and widely used t-shirt printing methods in the t-shirt printing industry. But not only industrial t-shirt printing, but this printing method is also used in various other industries to print a design or image onto an object's surface.

Basically, in the screen printing method, the ink will be printed using a mold that has been made according to the design. Later on the surface of the print, there is already a layer of wax that is waterproof and is used to prevent the ink from coming out through some unwanted parts.

Then the result will be printed according to the design print that has been made from the beginning. This t-shirt printing method has actually been used for centuries in traditional times. Because the quality can be said to be the best, this method is still used today in modern times.

Later, the design that you want to print on the t-shirt surface will be divided into several layers depending on the color. The ink will be poured over the surface of the t-shirt and printed one by one according to the color to form layers. Because the ink is poured directly onto the surface of the t-shirt, the prints on the t-shirt appear with striking designs and colors, even on t-shirts made of dark fabrics.

Created by roguelabmfg |

The t-shirt printing process using this screen printing method takes a relatively short amount of time when compared to other t-shirt printing methods. To find out more about screen printing, here is some important information:


1.1. Screen Printing Step by Step

Some of you may still be less familiar with this t-shirt printing method. To understand perfectly what screen printing looks like, you might be able to find out by knowing how the screen printing process is done step by step. Here is the process:

  • First, the design will be printed onto the surface of the stencil. This design is printed on a special material such as a film that will be used as the main surface of the print to print the desired design.
  • After the design is printed on the stencil and the stencil has been coated with a special waterproof layer to prevent ink leaking when printed, then the printing process can then begin.
  • The stencil is placed on the surface of the t-shirt according to the place where the design is to be printed.
  • The ink is poured on the stencil and also smoothed until the surface is smooth and all parts of the design to be printed are covered with ink.
  • The stencil is removed, and let the ink layer wait for it to dry completely and fully harden.
  • If the first layer of ink has hardened, then repeat the steps until all layers have been printed on the t-shirt surface and the desired design is achieved.
Created by goldenpressstudio |


1.2. Materials That Being Used

In determining which t-shirt printing method is the best, you will probably pay attention to the practical aspect. To find out this aspect, you can compare it with what materials or tools are needed in the printing process.

In using the screen printing method, the tools needed are very simple when compared to other printing methods. In this method, you only need special screen printing inks, stencils, and also some supporting tools such as dryers and also some special liquids. Some of these tools are very easy to use and practical.

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2. Heat Press

Now we go into the discussion of the second method, namely heat press. If previously the screen printing method was a method derived from traditional practices and has been practiced for a long time, then this heat press is classified as a modern t-shirt printing method and has recently been used.

Although recently used, this heat press has become one of the most popular t-shirt printing methods and competes with screen printing in the printing industry, especially t-shirt printing.

As the name implies, this method uses a high-temperature press to print a design onto the surface of the t-shirt. Basically, the design will be printed first onto a special waxed material surface with a special ink as well.

Later, the material that already has a design on its surface will be placed on the t-shirt surface according to the place where the design will be placed. After that, the press machine will transfer the design from the waxed material to the surface of the t-shirt.

The process is certainly very practical, so that is one of the reasons why people make heat press their preferred t-shirt printing method. However, the main reason why heat presses are so popular and preferred by many people is that they can print a very complex design such as a detailed image. When compared to screen printing, usually, screen printing can only print a design in the form of a cartoon or not in the form of a realistic image.

Created by makersworkshopllc |

This heat press provides a solution to this problem. You can choose to use the heat press method if you want to print a detailed image. However, this discussion will be explained further later. To understand more about heat press here is some information you should know about this t-shirt printing method:


2.1. Heat Press Step by Step

Just like screen printing, to understand heat press more comprehensively, you must first know how a heat press works step by step. The following is an explanation of the heat press steps step by step:

  • First of all, the image or design is printed on a special material that can transfer ink to the surface of the t-shirt. The ink used to print this design also uses special ink.
  • If the design has been printed on the surface of the material, then the t-shirt will then be inserted into the heat press machine. In this machine, the t-shirt will be slightly stretched so that the ink can seep into the surface perfectly.
  • Transfer material that had been printed with the next design placed on the surface of the t-shirt in accordance with the desired place.
  • The press machine is turned on. Later, the hot temperature in the press machine will make the ink from the transfer material move to the surface of the t-shirt.
  • If the process is complete, then the printed t-shirt can be removed from the machine.
Created by makersworkshopllc |


2.2. Material and Tools That Being Used

Actually, there are three main things that are needed if you want to choose a heat press as your printing method. The tools needed are a high-temperature press machine that is specifically designed for heat-press, material transfer, and special ink.

Because the materials needed are relatively small, you could say this heat press is a t-shirt printing method that is quite practical to do. But unfortunately, the price of the machine used for this heat press is quite high, so you have to really take into account the budget and assess whether if you buy this machine, it is a good investment for you.

Source: bettersub_heat_press |


Which T-shirt Printing Method is Better on T-shirt, Screen Printing or Heat Press?

After you know what screen printing is and what heat press is briefly, then now we go into the main information you are looking for, which is the best t-shirt printing method and produces high-quality prints on t-shirts.

Actually, these two methods both have their own advantages and disadvantages when compared to each other. There is no definite answer which is better, screen printing or heat press.

This can only be determined by yourself. To be able to choose the best t-shirt printing method for printing a design on the surface of a t-shirt, you must choose a method that suits your needs.

Every need and aspect of t-shirt printing may require a different method. So there is no definite answer to which t-shirt printing method is the best compared to the others. However, if you are still confused about how to determine the best printing method according to your needs, here are some things you should pay attention to when you want to determine the t-shirt printing method:


1. Types of Design That You Want to Print

The main thing that you have to pay attention to is what kind of design you will print to the surface of your t-shirt. As mentioned earlier, screen printing is more suitable for printing simpler designs, while heat press is used for complex and detailed designs.

Adjust the printing method according to this provision. If you want to print a simple design, then you can choose screen printing. However, if you want to print detailed and complex images, then the only method you should choose is a heat press so that the print you produce will be of high quality.

Apart from the details, you also have to look at the colors in your design. When you have a lot of colors that you want to use in your design, then the most effective solution is to choose the heat press t-shirt printing method.

In the screen printing method, all colors must be provided manually according to the colors in the design. If the design has many colors, of course, this will be very long and time-consuming, right?

Created by goldenpressstudio |


2. The T-shirt Color That You Printed On

The color of the t-shirt that you want to be printed on is also an aspect that cannot escape your attention. If you want to print a design on a t-shirt that has a light color, then you are advised to choose a heat press as your t-shirt printing method.

When you use a heat press to print a design on a light-colored t-shirt, the resulting print can be striking and vivid in color. On the other hand, if you want to print a design on a dark-colored t-shirt, it would be advisable to choose screen printing as your printing method.

This is because screen printing is already well-known as the best method for use on dark t-shirts or any other material in general. Because in the process, the ink is poured directly onto the surface, the colors will be much more striking and can contrast with the dark color of the t-shirt.

Created by goldenpressstudio |


3. Quantity of The T-shirt That You Want to Print

Let's say you are an apparel brand that wants to print designs on t-shirts. Then you have to print t-shirts in bulk. Usually in the range of hundreds or even thousands of t-shirts.

If you want to print a lot of t-shirts in bulk, specifically more than 500 t-shirts, it would be better if you use screen printing. In the screen printing method, the stencil used can be used many times and does not need to be replaced or discarded for each t-shirt.

This will certainly save more time and materials, as well as make screen printing an ideal t-shirt printing method for mass production. Meanwhile, if you only want to print a relatively small number of t-shirts, then you can choose the heat press method.

Since the heat press guarantees a more detailed print, you can opt for it if you don't need to print a lot of products in bulk.

Created by goldenpressstudio |


4. The Quality of The Print

Both screen printing and heat press actually produce a good print quality in terms of appearance. However, in terms of quality and durability, prints produced using the screen printing method are guaranteed to be more durable and also not easily damaged when compared to a heat press.

Prints produced with screen printing will usually be in the form of ink mixed with latex and several other strong materials, so it will not be easily damaged and peeled off your t-shirt. 

But of course, this also depends on the quality of the screen printing you choose. If you use a screen printing that is cheap and of poor quality, the print will not last long either. Prints that are printed using a heat press will usually only be in the form of ink. Therefore, the print will be less sticky when compared to prints from screen printing.

Created by goldenpressstudio |


5. Environmentally Friendly

Nowadays, we are more advised to use environmentally friendly products so that our environment is not harmed. If you are someone who is very concerned about whether a product is produced in an ethical way or not, then you are more advised to use the heat press method.

If you use the heat press method, the process is done more ethically. The heat print process is more environmentally friendly because it uses a machine that can be used many times and more ethical materials. In the screen printing process the process uses materials that are harmful to the environment and also unethical. So this might be something you should consider.

Created by goldenpressstudio |


Final Words

Both screen printing and heat press offer their own advantages and disadvantages that can be your own consideration. There is no definite best method, so the only thing you can do is adjust it to your t-shirt printing needs and compare the advantages and disadvantages of each method in various aspects.

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