What Is the Most Efficient Method of Custom T Shirt Printing? The Different Available Methods

If you are thinking about starting a custom t shirt Singapore business, you should know that there are different printing methods – probably more than you have thought. Different methods would have different positive and negative aspects. Not to mention that they may require different conditions, settings, and other desired settings. It would be a wise idea to learn about each method specifically before you jump into the business.

Screen Printing

If you are thinking about making a custom t shirt production, screen printing is one of the best methods to do it. It’s one of the most popular too. This is one of the most flexible techniques too because it can be done by hand as well as by machines. The type of inks used in this method is thicker, enabling it to produce vibrant colors. Moreover, the ink can last longer too. Just use high quality inks to maintain the quality as low quality will result in lame result and it will fade quickly. This process is also perfect for high volume bulk orders. A gallon of ink can be used to produce 200 shirts to 500 shirts, which make it cost effective.

The pros are:

  • The process itself is pretty handy. Once you have set your working place, you are able to produce tons of shirts (using the same design) in super fast speed
  • It works well with most fabrics, as long as you use the right ink for the right fabric
  • The ink can be absorbed well and deeply, in order to produce bright and vivid color with maximum durability

In the meanwhile, the cons are:

  • The process is messy because you will deal with ink and spills
  • You need a lot of space for proper printing work. And make sure that it is dark and free of dust to maintain the ink and screen
  • It takes time to learn the process. The learning curve is pretty steep
  • The placement of the artwork can be limited

Direct to Garment (DTG) Printing

This is basically an inkjet technology that is able to print premium photographic full color prints to the shirt directly. It is perfect for artwork or designs with complex layout. Whereas screen printing can ‘only’ handle fewer colors, this DTG machine can deal with more color mix, so you can produce the tiniest details. This is a great method to make only a few custom t shirt order. It isn’t perfect for bulk orders because of the complexity.

The pros include:

  • You can use as many colors as you want to create the details
  • It doesn’t take as much time for the setup, unlike the screen printing
  • The machine is portable and low, so you can enjoy more portability
  • It is less messy because it uses ink cartridges
  • The method uses injection system so you won’t ‘feel’ the printing texture

The cons are:

  • The machine is perfect only to be used on 100% cotton shirts in order to produce vivid outcome
  • The machine can be extremely costly
  • Colors has the tendency to wash out gradually
  • The artwork placement is limited
  • You have to consider the regular maintenance of the machine

Heat Transfer Printing

This technique is basically about placing sheets (of transfer material) on top of the fabric, and then let the machine heat press it so that the graphics can be transferred permanently to the fabric. The great thing about this method is the fact that you can use it for different materials, so there won’t be any mess. The maintenance is the least demanding one so you won’t deal with the drama or fuss.

However, the heat transfer system can be broken down into several other techniques. With different techniques to make custom t shirt order, things can be confusing and complicated. But once you get the hang of it, you are good with it.

For instance, the dye sublimation printing is different from plastisol printing. Both of them use the similar heat transfer technique, but they are different in nature. In dye sublimation method, you use dye based ink that will turn to gas (when you heat it). Basically, during the heat transfer procedure, the ink would be a part of the fabric instead of ‘just’ a layer on the top surface. In plastisol method, on the other hand, you use similar ink and method to screen printing. The only difference is that you inkjet print the design on the transfer paper (made of plastisol) first before you heat press it.

The pros or dye-sublimation are:

  • The printing result would be last longer because the ink will turn out to be a part of the fabric
  • The print feels soft on your hand. Moreover, it won’t peel, crack, deteriorate, or face

Unfortunately, the downsides include:

  • The costly printing procedure
  • This method works well only with polyblend based fabric. You can expect vibrant colors if you have more polyester content
  • The method won’t work with creases or folds. They will stay undyed

For the plastisol method, the pros include:

  • It isn’t messy
  • You can expect similar quality as screen printing
  • This is a perfect method for shirt design testing. Once the sales improves, you can start making bulk productions with screen printing
  • It is versatile for jobs with only a few colors and tons of full color projects

However, let’s not forget the downsides, which include:

  • If you are dealing with big quantity production, the overall process may be costly
  • It takes quite a while to know the right temperature or pressure, so you will have some extra runs first.

Final Words

As you can see, each method has its own good and downsides. Each of them has their own special signature style. Some methods are great for small quantity work, while some are perfect for bulk order. Some require minimal machineries, while others require rather fancy and extravagant machines.

Depending on your business, your channel, and your target market, you can decide which technique to use. Make sure to plan out everything carefully. Starting out a business in custom t shirts sector can be beneficial, but only if you can do it properly and right.

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