Print Method for T Shirt

Screen Printing

  • PRO: Inexpensive way to produce professional high-quality and high-volume t shirt orders.
  • CON: Expensive print method for small t shirt orders such as those that are less than 10 pieces. Cost is also dependent on the number of colors in the design.

Screen printing is the most common method of t shirt printing in use today. Amateur screen printing is also a popular hobby for avid do-it-your-self practitioners. The method for t shirt screen printing is pretty straightforward: a design is transferred to a screen print frame pre-treated with emulsion and the design is then transferred to the t shirt by applying the ink through the frame to the t shirt using a squeegee.

Most of the graphic t shirts you see in stores today are produced using the screen print method.

Vinyl Cut Printing

  • PRO: Best print option for t shirts that require individual numbers or letters or words.
  • CON: Limited in detail and best for small quantities.

Vinyl cut is a t shirt print that involves the application of heat when transferring a design onto a t shirt. The design is cut into heat transfer vinyl and then ironed onto the t shirt. This is best used for designs that have limited colors and individual numbers and words.

Plenty of stores offer vinyl cut print kits for people who want to try it out in the comfort of their own homes. If you want to create your own, you can buy the heat transfer vinyl and then cut out your design using a Cricut™ machine.

Digital Printing (DTG-Direct to Garment)

  • PRO: DTG printing is the best print method for multi-color t shirt designs and smaller orders.
  • CON: If you’re looking to save by making a bulk order or minimizing print color, digital printing may not be the best option for you.

This t shirt print method involves printing directly using a digital printer onto the chosen media. Since the image is mechanized and doesn’t involve as much prep time as screen printing, it is cost effective for small t shirt print orders.

Examples of digital printing can be seen in graphic t shirts that feature multiple colors, gradations and layering.

Color Copier Transfer Method

  • PRO: Best for transferring photographic prints onto t shirts.
  • CON: Heat transfer leaves a visible negative area around design. It does not stand up well to constant washing. Best used for t shirts that will be used for a limited time only or as a commemorative piece.

If you’re planning a family reunion or want to immortalize a photo of your favorite celebrity in t shirt form, then the color copier transfer method would be the best option for you. Like vinyl cut printing, it involves heat transfer.