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Screen Printing vs Digital Printing – Which is Better?

Screen Printing

You’ve probably heard of both digital printing and screen printing, but if you’re looking to have your product designs made, you must be wondering which is better. To give you the short answer, digital printing is best if you’re looking for lower quantity, personalized prints, but if you’re looking for high-quantity, less personalized prints then you’re better off with screen printing. Both processes offer different finishes, so if you’re wondering which will better suit your needs, read on below.

What is Screen Printing?

This method involves making a stencil called a “screen” that is used to apply layers of ink onto the printing media. Each color needed is then applied one at a time using a different stencil which is then combined to get the final result. Screen printing is a suitable option for those looking to create designs that demand high levels of brightness and vibrancy or when you need to print on dark shirts or create specialty products.

During screen printing, the ink used is a lot thicker compared to digital printing, which is why it produces brighter colors. Because these products are printed by hand, they can produce many unique products, such as mugs, coolers, and water bottles. This method can also manually print on uneven and curved surfaces, making it the ideal solution for a wide range of mediums.

Screen Printing Pros and Cons

One of the best benefits you can get out of screen printing is that it’s an effective solution for bulk orders since it’s fast and affordable. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of screen printing:

Pros

  • Higher quality prints
  • More durable for long-term use
  • Can be applied to a wide range of materials such as wood, glass, signs, textiles, electronics, banners, and more
  • Easier to print on specified areas of your medium

Cons

  • Projects will take longer to complete
  • Color ranges available are limited
  • The amount of ink you use can make it look like it’s raised or higher from the print
  • They can’t be customized the way you can in digital prints.

What is Digital Printing?

On the other hand, digital printing is a newer process where your artwork is processed through a computer and then directly printed onto your product. Digital printing doesn’t happen through a heat transfer — instead, the ink directly sticks to your shirt’s fabric. This method is best used on items that have a high amount of detail to be printed and are ordered in smaller quantities.

Because digital printers don’t use screens, they allow for a more photographic print and can highlight a lot more detail compared to screen printing. It also uses a much thinner ink to achieve the levels of detail needed, so it’s best used on shirts of a lighter color to let your designs take form and print accurately. While each printing process has its strengths and weaknesses, be sure to ask your screen printing shop to weigh your options to get the best results for your products.

Digital Printing Pros and Cons

Digital printing will often be recommended for one-off projects and for prints with a small quantity. This method is suitable for a wide range of materials, where it provides advantages and disadvantages:

Pros

  • High turnaround speed
  • Available in a wide range of colors
  • Can accurately transfer photographic images
  • Best for short print runs
  • Your prints can be customized in different ways
  • Your designs will stay close to the print material without bulging

Cons

  • A limited range of fabrics in which you can print your designs
  • The print isn’t as durable since the ink is thinner
  • White-colored components won’t be clearly seen
  • Not suitable for bulk pricing

The Bottom Line

No matter what kind of solution you’re looking for, be sure to ask for an expert’s opinion on which method will work better for your needs. While it can be difficult to state which technique is better than the other, there are a few things that can help you determine which will produce the best results for your prints and projects.