Really Easy Guide to T-Shirt Printing Methods Charlie Davies September 26, 2023 Printing, T-Shirt Printing 2 Comments Ever wondered what’s the best printing method for your t-shirts? Here at Clothes2Order we take the hassle out of ordering. Our experienced production team will choose the best printing method for your t-shirt and design, which will result in a high quality, durable print. We’ve put together this easy-to-understand guide of some of the most popular printing methods so you can find out more about how the different printing process we offer at Clothes2order really work: Vinyl Printing Vinyl printing Vinyl transfer printing works with the help of a machine which cuts out a design onto a single-colour sheet of vinyl. The vinyl design is then heat sealed onto the garment using a heat press. A Vinyl print sits on top of the logo and we would recommend vinyl for one-off orders for stag and hen t-shirts for example. This is because vinyl printing is great for lettering and creates a vibrant, bold finish that will really stand out. How does the Vinyl process work? Our expert artwork team will add an outline to the design/lettering so that it can be used in the process. This is achieved using specialised design software. The vinyl design is then ready to be cut and applied to the t-shirt. The design is next put through a digital cutter, a CAD (Computer Aided Design) cutter which electronically cuts the design onto a single colour sheet of vinyl, and then needs to be cut out from the vinyl sheet. This is done manually using a weeder, in a process called weeding. This process is achieved by using a weeder which is a small tool which helps to remove the excess vinyl so that the final cut design remains. The cut design is then placed on application tape to prepare it to be heat transferred. Next, the design is heat pressed onto the t-shirt. Benefits of Vinyl Printing Brilliant for bright coloured, clear designs; especially textsGreat for one-off event t-shirtsGreat for low quantities What are the limitations? This method of printing can only print single colour designs Versacamm Printing Versacamm is essentially the same as vinyl printing, however, it can produce multicolour texts and designs. With Versacamm a design is printed onto a vinyl and the design is cut and then heat pressed onto the t-shirt. Versacamm printing is fantastic for low quantities of multi-colour designs as it produces high quality, vibrant designs that effectively sit on top of the garment, Additionally no brightness in the colour of the design is lost. How does the Versacamm process work? The process follows the exact same steps as vinyl printing except for the main difference being that multi coloured designs can be used. The design is digitised and put through a Versacamm machine which electronically cuts and prints multi-coloured designs onto a sheet of plain vinyl. The design then goes through the weeding process. After this process the cut vinyl is then heat pressed onto the t-shirt. Benefits of Versacamm Printing Suitable for producing colour gradientsCreates a sharp and glossy finishGreat for small to medium quantities What are the limitations? Large designs add unnecessary weight to the garmentThe design could potentially crack due to heavy wear DTG DTG stands for Direct To Garment printing. We have several state-of-the-art DTG machines that print designs with a realistic high quality finish. DTG allows for intricate, complex designs to be produced. T-shirts which have been produced with a DTG print often feel like the design is a “part” of the t-shirt. This allows for great movement as the design is directly printed into the garment. Our DTG machines can print onto any colour garment, including even the darkest of colours meaning any colours within your design or logo can be replicated within the printing process. Our DTG printers print in the RGB spectrum. We are incredibly proud of our eco-friendly t-shirt printing and that we are pioneers of Greenprinted™ technology. This uses water-based, sustainable and biodegradable inks. The Neo-Pigment inks, which are used by us, are 100% non-hazardous, 100 % toxin-free, vegan friendly and are safe for baby clothing. They also enable ink waste reduction thanks to their single ink set, ensuring digital is one step closer to offering a solution to lower the amount of water our industry currently uses. In fact, this uses 95% less water than traditional printing methods such as screen printing. How does the DTG process work? In terms of the DTG printing process, the t-shirt is then sprayed with a pre-treatment spray. This is to ensure that the ink doesn’t soak into the t-shirt fabric, without this step stains and defects would occur. The item is then placed in the DTG printer and the design is printed directly onto the t-shirt, much like an inkjet printer. Once printed the t-shirt is placed into one of our dryers which helps to ensure a durable finish. Benefits of DTG Produces designs of all colours and sizes with a superior quality and detailed finishAllows for intricate designs which may not be possible with alternative print methods such as vinyl heat transfer to be weeded on a cad cutterDTG is ideal for small and medium quantities of printing applicationsAllows for high quality and maximum detail designs with a great finish What are the limitations? It can only be used on cotton t-shirts garments: poly/cotton mixes or polyester do not produce the same high quality, long lasting image Screen Printing Screen printing is one of the most traditional methods of printing. This process involves the application of colour with ink directly through a screen onto the t-shirt. Screen printing can be used on multi colour designs and for large designs which leaves long lasting results. As the ink is absorbed into the garment, the finished design is smooth and glossy. Full pantone matching is available when screen printing How does the Screen Printing process work? It involves the application of colour normally by ink. In order to screen print an item the design has to be separated into the component colours on software such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw. Prior to printing the design needs to be separated into the component colours by our artwork team so each colour can be printed individually. Every colour requires a separate screen consisting of a very fine mesh surface which is produced using light reactive chemicals. Where the chemicals have been exposed to light, they break down and are washed off leaving spaces in the mesh. Once ready, the ink can then be screen printed onto the t-shirts directly or onto transfer paper which is later applied to the T-shirts by a heat press. If the direct printing method is used, the t-shirts are placed on a solid board. The colours are then applied individually by placing the screen on top of the T-shirt and forcing the printer ink through the relevant screen stencil onto the T-shirt. Benefits of Screen Printing Good for large areasComplex designs have a great finishGreat for large quantities (Orders over 1000 pieces) What are the limitations? Not economical on small or medium ordersCan be environmentally harmful due to the chemicals used in the process DTF DTF stands for direct to film printing. The key benefit of DTF printing provides a high degree of accuracy with an exact replication of the original design. DTF applications are incredibly versatile and can be applied to cotton, nylon, polyester, 50/50 blends to name a few. DTF can also print on both light and dark fabrics. This makes it ideal for items that are not suitable for DTG printing such as being able to print accurately on polyester garments. This is the perfect choice for sports t-shirts and activewear. How does the DTF process work? The logo/design is sent over to our DTF printers which contain a specialist film to capture the design. The design is printed onto the film, initially in white. Then the colours are the design are printed on top of the white layer. This is then heat pressed on to the t-shirt after the binding powder has been applied. Benefits of DTF Produces exact replication of the original designAchieves bold colours with any colour able to be replicated Ability to print onto sportswear items What are the limitations? DTF prints are not as breathable as DTG prints due to the logo or design being placed on top of the item.