Exploring 8 Key Facts About Screen Printing and Sublimation in 2024 | Which is the Best Choice for Businesses?

Screen Printing and Sublimation
In this Bluefocus article, if you’re operating a custom apparel business, you may have come across the terms Screen Printing and Sublimation. Both are popular printing techniques for clothing, yet they serve different purposes and offer varying efficiencies. In this post, we’ll clarify the differences between sublimation and screen printing, how they work, and help you decide which is the most suitable for your business.
Sublimation printing, also known as dye-sublimation printing, is a process that utilizes heat and pressure to transfer designs directly from sublimation paper onto fabric. This technique is particularly effective for producing full-color prints on various items such as clothing, flags, doormats, tire covers, tote bags, pillowcases, and more.
Screen Printing and Sublimation
Screen Printing and Sublimation
When you place sublimation paper with your design onto a shirt or other material, clamp it tightly in a heat press, increase the temperature, wait for the design to sublimate, and fuse with the fabric. The pressure also pushes it deep into the fabric, rather than just depositing ink on the surface. This process creates a permanent, vibrant, high-quality imprint that can withstand multiple washes and wears without fading or cracking.
Here’s the step-by-step process of how sublimation introduces ink into fabric:
  • Print your shiny design onto special transfer paper using a dye-sublimation printer filled with vibrant sublimation ink.
  • Place the sublimation paper onto a shirt or other material. Then sandwich them together in a heat press and crank that sucker up to scorching temperatures while clamping tightly.
  • Now here’s where the magic happens! That extreme heat turns the ink into a gas that permeates into the fabric. The pressure from the heat press also pushes it deep inside.
  • And just like that, once the shirt cools down, your design is now perfectly melted into the fabric fibers! So, it’s not sitting on top like a regular print – it becomes part of the shirt. That’s why the colors pop beautifully and vibrantly, and they’ll never crack or peel.
    Screen Printing and Sublimation
    Screen Printing and Sublimation

The concept of screen printing has been around forever

We’re talking thousands of years! It began as a way to add designs onto silk. The basic idea is that you create a stencil on a fine mesh screen, then use a squeegee to push ink through the openings of the stencil. The ink prints the design onto the shirt or fabric underneath. It’s a classic technique but really took off in more modern times when artists like Andy Warhol pioneered some of the most beautiful graphic tees in the 1960s.
Screen Printing and Sublimation
Screen Printing and Sublimation
Let’s explore the evolution of screen printing but with better tools. For multi-color prints, you need a separate stencil screen for each color. The printer layers them one by one. Of course, more intricate designs will take longer as each color needs to dry before the next one. The types of ink sit on the material rather than penetrating inside it. This differs from sublimation where the ink is pumped into the fibers. But screen printing has the advantage of being able to print on all types of fabric using some extremely bold and vibrant ink types!

Here’s how to create POD products using screen printing:

  • Print the design on a transparent acetate sheet. Then, select a suitable mesh screen for the fabric type and complexity of the design.
  • Apply a special light-sensitive coating to the screen. Then, place the sheet onto the screen and shine a light onto it. The light causes the coating to harden in areas where there’s no design. Remove excess fluid, leaving behind an outline on the screen mesh, much like a stencil.
  • Place the screen on the printing machine over the fabric, then lower it to touch the fabric to pick up the ink. The ink is pressed through the mesh outline, printing the pattern onto the fabric. Repeat this for each piece of fabric, let it dry, and inspect to ensure it looks just right.
Screen Printing and Sublimation
Screen Printing and Sublimation

Analyzing the differences between screen printing and sublimation

Finding the most suitable printing method is a crucial consideration when running a custom apparel business. In this section, we’ll delve into the differences between screen printing and sublimation and explain the pros and cons of each type.

Print Quality

When it comes to print quality, screen printing stands out with vibrant, eye-catching colors and bold designs. It works best for logos, text, and simple graphics. However, printing complex multicolor images like photographs can be challenging with all those separate wax layers.
On the other hand, sublimation also produces some stunning prints with sharp, vivid colors. Additionally, it can easily handle intricate designs or detailed images with multiple colors because there’s no color separation. The ink simply flows freely into the fabric.
So, if you only need to highlight simple text or logos, the classic screen printing method will never go wrong. Conversely, if you’re into printing photos, then sublimation printing is a smart move.

Durability

In screen printing, the ink sits on top of the fabric rather than penetrating it. That means the more colors you add, the thicker the layer gets. Plastisol ink makes the print relatively durable, but after several spins in the washing machine, it may start to crack or peel at the edges, and the colors might fade slightly.
However, sublimation prints can go the distance. The ink bonds tightly with the fabric fibers as it transitions into a gas and permeates. So essentially, the ink becomes one with the shirt rather than sitting on it. This helps the colors remain bold and vibrant even after washing – no fading, cracking, or peeling!
Screen Printing and Sublimation
Screen Printing and Sublimation
Currently, silk screen printed shirts can still maintain their beauty if you take care of them. However, sublimation is sure to win out for long-lasting, durable prints. The colors lock in tightly and won’t budge! So, if you prioritize longevity for your merchandise, sublimation is probably the best route. However, screen printing is effective for basic designs and gets the job done on a budget!

Utilizing eye-catching effects

Screen printing allows you to incorporate special effects by using special types of ink. We’re talking about 3D puff designs, neon colors, glow-in-the-dark, glitter – if you want impressive prints, the options are wide open! You just need to add each effect as a separate layer of ink screened on top.
On the other hand, sublimation brings unique effects with depth and texture, such as metallic effects, shimmer, crackle, or leather.
One thing to note with sublimation is the full-color imagery like photographs. It only requires basic CMYK process colors to reproduce a range of colors. Screen printing requires more blending and mixing to print complex designs in full color, especially photographs.
Currently, silk screen printed shirts can still maintain their beauty if you take care of them. However, sublimation is sure to win out for long-lasting, durable prints. The colors lock in tightly and won’t budge! So, if you prioritize longevity for your merchandise, sublimation is probably the best route. However, screen printing is effective for basic designs and gets the job done on a budget!

Utilizing eye-catching effects

Screen printing allows you to incorporate special effects by using special types of ink. We’re talking about 3D puff designs, neon colors, glow-in-the-dark, glitter – if you want impressive prints, the options are wide open! You just need to add each effect as a separate layer of ink screened on top.
On the other hand, sublimation brings unique effects with depth and texture, such as metallic effects, shimmer, crackle, or leather.
One thing to note with sublimation is the full-color imagery like photographs. It only requires basic CMYK process colors to reproduce a range of colors. Screen printing requires more blending and mixing to print complex designs in full color, especially photographs.
Screen Printing and Sublimation
Screen Printing and Sublimation

Design Flexibility with Screen Printing and Sublimation

Sublimation stands out for its ability to reproduce photos and intricate multicolor designs seamlessly due to its lack of color separation. Printers utilize only cyan, magenta, yellow, and black to generate a broad spectrum of colors accurately, thanks to user-friendly software configurations. This ensures extremely consistent color gradients and vibrant imagery, making it ideal for complex designs.
On the other hand, screen printing offers versatility in printing on any colored shirt effortlessly since the ink sits atop the fabric. However, sublimation’s potential shines brightest on light fabrics because the ink is transparent and penetrates the shirt.
So, if simplicity and fexibility are paramount, screen printing fits the bill. But when color accuracy and multi-tone designs come into play, sublimation takes the lead!

Materials Compatibility

Screen printing is more suited for natural fiber types like cotton or silk because the ink adheres well and retains creases effectively through wash cycles. With special ink types, you can print on all materials – including polyester – as well as paper, wood, metal, plastic.
Conversely, sublimation works best with fabric blends containing polyester, nylon, spandex, lycra – you name it. Cotton can also work, but sublimation works wonders on those high-performance synthetic fabrics. Besides shirts, sublimation is a great choice for printing photo mugs, phone cases, tiles, even coaster blanks due to the smooth polymer surface that ink adheres to beautifully.

Environmental Impact Lasting for Years

Screen printing often relies on plastisol ink, a somewhat harsh ink type on the planet due to containing some non-degradable harmful chemicals. Bulk ordering shirts may save money but risks excess inventory wastage if your design doesn’t sell out. Not ideal.
However, some screen printing machines can use water-based ink for a more eco-friendly option. And smart product planning helps minimize leftover inventory being sent to landfills.
On the other hand, sublimation uses fewer natural resources like water compared to other decoration methods. The ink itself isn’t toxic. And production operations aim to recycle fabric scraps, like sewing leftover shirt material into fun headbands!
So, both methods can take steps towards going green. Screen printing just requires more careful ink selection and inventory management. Sublimation operates cleaner from the get-go. Either way, our planet thanks you for prioritizing eco-friendly printing!

Quantity Demands

Sublimation can churn out small custom batches or large-volume orders just as efficiently. Because this process is highly automated, printers can fulfill single orders up to hundreds without requiring additional manpower. This makes sublimation technology highly suitable for on-demand product printing when orders come in instead of stockpiling beforehand.
Screen printing involves more manual setup like creating custom stencil papers. Thus, most screen printers prefer larger batch orders around 25 pieces and above to maximize workflow efficiency and cost benefits. Optimizing for large batch printing minimizes overall costs per item printed.
In summary, if your business model demands the flexibility to print 1-2 shirts at a time or quickly scale up to large quantities based on demand spikes, sublimation may better suit those needs. But for businesses solely focused on mass production to fulfill wholesale or branded bulk orders, screen printing offers economic advantages at scale.

Pricing

Screen printing entails time spent mixing ink, creating stencil papers, and manually printing each shirt. It’s not very practical to kickstart all those setups for a few shirts. Bulk ordering around 25+ shirts is worthwhile, helping reduce costs per print. But ordering too many shirts risks powder wastage and excess inventory. So, screen printing thrives on large quantity runs rather than quick on-demand jobs.
Sublimation operates like a T-shirt factory where the.
Conclusion
Bluefocus offers a comprehensive approach to garment decoration, blending the best of both worlds with screen printing and sublimation techniques. Whether it’s vibrant multi-color designs or eco-friendly printing, our solutions cater to diverse needs. Trust Bluefocus for high-quality, versatile, and sustainable apparel customization through innovative screen printing and sublimation technologies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Gọi điện ngay