Choosing the Perfect T-Shirt Printing Method

Choosing the Perfect T-Shirt Printing Method (The Ultimate Guide) Posted by SHOEFLY GRAPHICS on 2/15/20

Let’s be real. We’re all glad that wearing t-shirts is socially acceptable in today’s fashion. Aside from how comfortable they are, they’re a fun way to express yourself and can provide a unique canvas for all of your great ideas.

Unfortunately for all of the t-shirt printers and designers out there, there is no perfect way to go about printing your creative designs on them. For example, a printing method may come at an affordable cost but also be limited in terms of what materials it can print on.

In general, the most important things to consider when selecting a t-shirt printing method are cost, color selection, compatible materials, production speed, and the quality of the print. Although no printing method checks all five of these boxes, what really matters is finding the best one for you and your projects.

In our ultimate guide, we're gonna walk you through how each printing method works and break down their respective pros and cons. At the end, we’ll describe what type of person is best suited for each printing method and provide a table ranking them from 1 through 5 in terms of the five factors we listed above.

1. Screen Printing

Screen Printing is the OG of all printing methods, with a history technically spanning over 2,000 years. Its origin can be traced back to ancient China, where hair was placed over a screen to provide a mesh for printing. Although modern Screen Printing did not begin until the late 20th century, it’s still been around for far longer than the other printing methods featured on the list. At one point, it was really the only way to produce t-shirt designs in bulk.

For simplicity’s sake, we won’t get into all of the technicalities of how Screen Printing works. In essence, a design is printed onto a thin mesh or screen to start. The way in which this design is printed on this screen allows for ink to only pass through there. This process must be repeated for each color of the design, which is one of its drawbacks. The prep work for Screen Printing can be very time-consuming for complex and colorful graphics.

Once the screens are prepared, they are separately placed one after the other on a shirt where the ink is pushed through and printed, usually with a squeegee. The shirts are then left to dry, and they are typically heated up to speed up the process.

Where Screen Printing excels the most is for larg