Types of printing: comparison between silk-screening and heat transfer

As you may already know, there are many different printing types available on various printers’ websites. If you are wondering the difference between all these different types of printing, don’t worry, we got you covered. With over 10 years of experience in the printing business, we would like to share our knowledge on the differences of printing we offer in our Saltycustoms website. Our most popular printings which we will discuss are silk-screen printing and heat transfer printing.
Silk-screen printing
Silk-screen printing is one of the most popular and most commonly used forms of printing today. Together with stencil-based methods, it is also one of the oldest forms of printing making. It is mostly used by companies when printing designs onto products of different sizes and materials. But what exactly is silk-screen printing?

Screen printing is the process of pressing ink through a stenciled mesh screen to create a printed design. It’s all about transferring a stenciled design onto a flat surface using a mash screen, ink and a squeegee. This mash screen is cut to make a stencil for the design. The ink is spread on the screen afterwards, passing through to the object underneath only in the concerned areas. One screen can only provide one color, so if you have a design with more colors, you need to bring multiple screens.
Silk-screen printing is mostly used because it produces vivid colors, darker fabrics included as well. Because the ink lies in layers on the surface of the fabric, it ensures that the print gives a pleasant palpable quality. Another benefit of using this type of printing is the durability of personalized items and the fact that the printouts are resistant to many washing procedures.
Although automated printing may result in a faster process and is more cost effective, it does, however, offer a limited substrate range. That is why many companies will still use silk-screen printing.

Heat transfer printing
Heat transfer printing, also known as digital transfer, is a newer decoration method wherein your custom logo or design is printed onto transfer paper. After that the ink is thermally transferred from the paper to your fabric, using heat and pressure.
Heat transfer can be used in different kind of ways. You can use dye sublimation transfers, digital appliqué transfers, inkjet transfers and vinyl transfers. Using heat transfer has a few advantages, namely: it is perfect for small orders and easy for printing designs involving many colors and complicated designs.
On the other side, there are also some disadvantages. The design fades and cracks easily when you use dark fabrics. Compared with silk-screen printing, the design does not last as long.

So, now that you have a better overview of what the two types exactly mean, it’s time to make a list of differences.

  1. The design is durable with silkscreen-printing vs the design will fades and cracks easily with heat transfer
  2. If the design includes different colors, you need different screens using silk screen-printing vs easy to print designs with many colors using heat transfer
  3. Silk-screen printing is useful and more effective for large orders vs heat transfer is more perfect for small orders
  4. The process of silk-screen printing can take a longtime vs during the process you can customize different garments easily with heat transfer
As manufactures, we have complete control over the whole production process. Starting with the order to ensure that the product prints the best quality and the fastest shipping. Now that you know all the differences, it might be hard for you to decide which type of printing you prefer. That’s why we are here to assist you for your apparel needs. 

We offer various types of printings including heat transfer, silkscreen, embossed, dye sublimation and embroidery. As you can see, we have everything you need. Interested in printing T-shirts and more? Email us at sales@saltycustoms.com to speak with our Apparel Consultants!