Which is better – screen printing or sublimation? Printing your own individual markings on sportswear or corporate clothing allows you to stand out from the crowd. Probably everyone has a sweatshirt or t-shirt with a company logo or the name of a sports club. The print can be an advertisement of your own business or a way to increase brand recognition.
When deciding to make it, you should choose the method of transferring the graphics to the fabric. The most popular fabric printing techniques are screen printing and sublimation. Which one will be better? What to consider when making a choice?
Sublimation printing method – advantages
The method of sublimation printing allows for spectacular, multi-colored visual effects. Sublimation printing on T-shirts does not change the properties of the material itself and does not reduce their functionality. These T-shirts are resistant to stretching and can be washed normally without the risk of damage to the marking.
Sublimation gives almost unlimited possibilities in terms of the graphic design itself. The level of its complexity or detail does not affect the price – it depends only on the surface of the print. Thanks to the use of this technique and printing in the CMYK space, color restrictions are almost non-existent.
Some print shops also allow you to specify a color on the PANTONE scale. Thanks to sublimation, it is also possible to achieve a whole spectrum of visual effects – shading or tonal transitions are not a problem here.
There are also no great restrictions when it comes to the size of the print. However, it should be remembered that in the case of small elements, the edges of the graphics may not be as sharp as, for example, in the case of thermal transfer, where they are cut on a plotter. The larger the elements, the blurring of the edges is less visible.
Sublimation – limitations
White polyester T-shirts with a print will be durable, and the print itself, even the most complex and multicolored, will look great. However, this does not mean that this method is always the most beneficial. There are two major limitations to its use:
- Material limitations – sublimation printing is best done on polyester material, but it is not possible to apply graphics in this way on cotton fabrics. The solution in this case may be the use of cotton blends with polyester fibre;
- Restrictions on the color of clothing – sublimation printing is best done on white fabrics. A black print on a colored background will also look good. In the case of color overprints on a colored background, there is an overlap of colors, and overprints on a black background will not be visible at all.
If you want to prepare clothing with your own logo using the sublimation technique, you must remember that neither cotton sweatshirts nor black T-shirts will be suitable for this purpose, and the yellow inscription on a red background will ultimately result in orange graphics.
Screen printing – the most important advantages
Sublimation printing on fabrics, although extremely durable and allows you to create even very graphically complex projects, is associated with restrictions on the material and color of clothing. These limitations do not apply to the screen printing technique.
Screen printing, consisting in marking clothes with special paints, gives the possibility of printing on almost all types of fabrics – from cotton to polyester materials. The color of the clothes intended for printing does not matter either. The effect will be equally good on white and colored T-shirts.
The undoubted advantages of the technique also include the ability to specify colors in PANTONE sarcasm, which allows for printing in deep, saturated colors. Thanks to neon or metallic paints, it is possible to obtain additional interesting visual effects on sportswear with your own print.
We should also mention the durability and strength of screen printing, which in this matter is not much worse than sublimation. Screen printing does not impair the performance of the fabric, and the clothing can be stretched normally and washed in the usual way.
The biggest disadvantage of screen printing – the price of multi-color projects
Screen printing, however, is associated with a certain limitation in terms of the color of the prints. The more colors, the higher the cost of marking. This is a direct consequence of the specific nature of printing.
Screen printing consists in marking clothes with paints, which requires the preparation and exposure of special matrices – separate for each of the colors used. Then the dye mixtures are selected, the garments are marked and then dried. For this reason, the more colors, the higher the level of labor and time consumption for a given order.
For the same reason, screen printing is not an economically viable method for single pieces or very short series of garments.
To sum up – if you want to make prints on sports or company clothes, you should take into account the type and color of clothes, the number of pieces to be printed and the level of complexity and color of the project itself. Both sublimation and screen printing have a number of advantages that make it possible to achieve durable, effective results. However, you need to remember about the limitations of each method and choose the right one for your specific order.