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Screen Printing vs. Dye Sublimation: Which is Better?

There are two types of techniques used for printing: screen printing vs. sublimation printing. Screen printing is a technique for delivering a painted design onto a flat surface using ink, a mesh screen, and a squeegee. While paper and fabric are principally used for printing, bespoke inks have enabled printing to be applied onto plastic, metal, wood, and glass.

On the other hand, the dye sublimation technique entails a printing mechanism in which a particular printer and a heat press are used. Dye sublimation heats solid ink and transfers it onto hard surfaces including polyester, plastic or ceramic. These printers are employed to print t-shirts, mugs, ID cards and others.

Let us highlight and compare the differences between screen printing and dye sublimation.

Which Is Quicker?

You will lacerate the design for the screen printing method and remove the excess part. Then you will need to cover the areas to protect the design parts from sinking ink. Subsequently, after printing the shirt, leave it to dry for 2-3 days. After drying, the shirt will require heating for making the ink permanent.

Screen Printing
Screen Printing

Suggested Read: How to Screen Print: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

On the contrary, dye sublimation is a speedy process, and you will need to heat press the design for it to fix on the shirt. After pressing the design, your printed shirt is ready within seconds, and you don’t need to do additional drying and heat pressing. Hence, dye sublimation is a clear winner here.

Dye Sublimation Printing via Heat Press
Dye Sublimation Printing via Heat Press

Also Read: Dye Sublimation of T-shirt Printing

Do They Require A Particular Type Of Fabric?

Screen printing presents varied options to be chosen from. Screen printing is mainly used for t-shirts and can also print on any fabric and surface. If printing is performed on 100% cotton, cotton, polyester mix, and other fabrics, it will produce excellent results.

Dye sublimation produces excellent results on t-shirts and banners. However, it can only work on synthetic surfaces such as polyester t-shirts, and it will not be able to print on cotton t-shirts by any means. One of the most remarkable features of dye sublimation is that it produces vivid rich colours. However, that is only achievable if you print on light-coloured fabrics and not on dark-coloured fabrics. Meanwhile, screen printing, the results are visible on any fabric.

Different types of Fabric
Different types of Fabric

Suggested Read: Polyester vs Cotton vs Blends: Which One Is Better?

Which Is Better For Bulk Orders?

If you receive bulk orders, then screen printing is the best option to go for. With screen printing, you will be able to print the same design on hundreds of t-shirts. However, that is not the case with sublimation. Sublimation will require a new sheet printed each time for each t-shirt. Therefore, screen printing is more cost-effective when it comes to bulk orders.

Which One Allows A More Straightforward Setup Process?

The setup process for dye sublimation is much simpler because you will be able to customise your designs swiftly, and you can print all colours simultaneously. Contrarily, screen printing installation is more time-consuming. If you have a t shirt printing assignment that requires more than one colour, you will need to organise stencilled colour each time. Therefore, dye sublimation is a clear winner in this case.

Stencils for Screen Printing
Stencils for Screen Printing

Suggested Read: How Do You Make A Stencil For A T Shirt

Conclusion

It is challenging to choose a clear winner when comparing screen printing with dye sublimation as both offer various advantages and drawbacks. You can only make up your mind after considering needs, budget and planning. If you intend to work on small projects and have a generous budget, then dye sublimation is for you. However, if you want to produce bulk orders and your budget is limited, you should choose screen printing. Moreover, some businesses employ both methods and can reap the benefits of both and overlook the drawbacks.

Image Source: Shutterstock

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