Screen Printing vs. Digital Printing

by | Dec 3, 2022 | Printing Techniques

Text and images are printed onto garments using both screen printing and digital printing. They use different methods and have different benefits and drawbacks. But which is best for you?

What is screen printing?

A worker is screen printing

Screen printing, also known as silkscreen, is a printing technique that uses a stencil to transfer ink onto a substrate, such as fabric or other materials. A distinct template is utilized for each new color, which is layered onto the product. This results in a thicker layer of ink in screen printing.

What is digital printing?

digital printing

Digital printing is a modern printing process that involves the use of computers to process designs. These designs are then sent directly from the computer to a printing press, where ink or toner is applied directly to the surface of the product.

Pros of screen printing

A worker is screen printing

  • Printing colors are bright

Screen printing yields high-quality prints characterized by vibrant colors and rich details.

  • Cost-effectiveness of high-volume production

Although the initial setup cost of screen printing may be higher than some other printing methods, it becomes more cost-effective for high-volume production. This is due to the decreasing unit cost as the quantity increases.

  • Opaque ink

Screen printing inks are typically opaque, allowing them to be applied to dark substrates without losing vibrancy.

Cons of screen printing

a bottle of red paint

  • Not suitable for complex designs

Complex and highly detailed designs may not be suitable for screen printing. The process can encounter challenges in reproducing fine details and gradients, leading to a potential loss of clarity in the final print.

  • Time consuming

Setting up screens and preparing printing equipment in screen printing can be time-consuming. This makes it less suitable for projects with tight deadlines or quick turnaround requirements.

  • Limited substrate compatibility

While screen printing is versatile, printing on curved or irregular surfaces can be challenging, and the process may not be as effective with specialty materials compared to other printing methods.

  • Not suitable for small-volume printing

If the project involves frequent design changes or requires small batches of custom printing, screen printing may not be the most efficient option.

  • High initial cost

The initial setup costs for screen printing can be relatively high. Creating screens, especially those with multi-color designs, involves a detailed and labor-intensive process.

Pros of digital printing

  • Printing in small quantities is cost-effective

Digital printing proves highly cost-effective for small to medium-sized print runs. Screen printing may entail higher set-up costs, rendering it less economical for smaller quantities.

  • Fast turnaround time

Digital printing accelerates production by eliminating time-consuming setup processes, making it ideal for projects with tight deadlines or last-minute changes.

  • High-quality

Advancements in digital printing technology have yielded high-quality results, as digital printing can produce sharp images and vibrant colors with intricate detail.

  • No template needed

Screen printing methods involve the creation of templates, which can be both time-consuming and expensive. Digital printing eliminates this step, streamlining the process for increased efficiency.

  • Reduced waste

Digital printing supports print on demand, allowing you to print only the amount you need. This helps minimize waste associated with overprinting and obsolete materials.

  • Flexibility for design adjustments

Digital printing facilitates easy and cost-effective design changes. Since there are no stencils to remake, adjustments can be made swiftly, making it suitable for projects with frequent updates.

Cons of digital printing

  • Durability

Digital printing involves applying ink directly to the product, where it adheres to the surface rather than being absorbed by the material. This can result in lower durability compared to other printing methods.

  • Inefficiency in cost for high-volume production

While digital printing can be cost-effective for low-volume production, it may become less economical for high-volume printing. Screen printing may be more cost-effective for mass production.

In conclusion

A worker is screen printingThere are numerous options available when it comes to screen printing and digital printing. Both methods have benefits and drawbacks. It’s no surprise that screen printing is losing ground to digital printing, given recent advancements in DTG printing. This technology has numerous advantages. Prints will be more vivid and clear than with any other method. Furthermore, you have more color and design options because you can use your own creations rather than relying on stencils or pre-made templates as traditional methods such as screen printing or heat transfer vinyl do (HTV).Both screen printing and digital printing are viable options for your company. Screen printing is probably the best option for you if you want a simple way to get your brand out there. Digital printers have advantages as well. DTG can handle small orders efficiently and affordably.

Related article: Screen Printing vs Embroidery

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