11 Best Quality Types Of Print On T-Shirt | Should Not Ignore

There are many types of print on T-shirt that are available for you to choose from. The type of print that you select will depend on a variety of factors, such as the design you want, the fabric of the shirt, and your budget. This guide of TeeNavi will help you to understand the different types of prints so that you can make an informed decision when shopping for T-shirts.

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1. Different types of print on T-shirts

This article will explain how the most common types of print on T-shirt work. You’ll discover which T-shirt printing methods last the longest and are the least expensive. Finally, you’ll find instructions for printing your own T-shirt!

1.1 Vinyl

One of the most famous T-shirt home decorating methods for professionals and home artists is using heat transfer vinyl. Vinyl is a type of plastic with one decorative side and one coated in a high-temperature adhesive. You can cut out text, logos, or even complex images from the Vinyl and then seal the cut-out onto the fabric with heat.

While not technically a “printing” technique, many artists use vinyl in place of ink to create raised, long-lasting designs on T-shirts. To create vinyl designs, large-scale professional operations will most likely use massive commercial cutting machines. At-home artists, on the other hand, love this method because you can make your vinyl cut-outs with a simple electronic cutting machine like a Cricut.

Advantages of transfer vinyl printing:

  • Produces long-lasting, aesthetically pleasing results.
  • It is simple for people of all ages to do.
  • The designs can be easily changed.

The drawbacks of transfer vinyl printing:

  • Heat-sensitive fabrics should not be used.
  • Not suitable for complex or multi-color designs.
types of print on t-shirt
Printing on transfer vinyl

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1.2 Plastisol/indirect screen printing

Plastisol or indirect silkscreening is becoming increasingly popular among T-shirt designers. This technique incorporates some of the fundamentals of screen printing and employs the same plastisol inks that are used in screen printing. The main distinction is that the painter applies the ink to a plastisol transfer sheet rather than directly to the fabric.

The transfer sheet is then temperature pressed onto the T-shirt, resulting in a long-lasting, raised design on the fabric’s surface. To save money, some designers create a digital design and send it to a third party who can mass-produce it on plastisol sheets. The artist then applies the plastisol sheet to a shirt with heat.

The advantages of this method include high-quality, long-lasting designs. Furthermore, you will have far less mess and set-up time than with traditional screen printing. You only need to do the digital design work and then have a heat press on hand if you outsource the dye sublimation transfer sheet printing!

One disadvantage of this method is that applying plastisol transfers can be difficult. When done incorrectly, the designs will later crack and peel away. Furthermore, this method works well for small orders but not so well for large orders.

types of print on t-shirt
Plastisol printing or indirect silkscreening

1.3 Discharge printing

Discharge printing is one of the types of print on T-shirt. It is not commonly used, but it produces a one-of-a-kind T-shirt. Instead of applying color, this process removes it! The printer protects the design portion of the shirt with a stencil before bleaching away the rest of the dye, abandoning only the design in color.

You might enjoy trying this method with a group of people to make fashionable vintage-style tees. The unique appearance of this technique is a significant advantage. However, while this process produces unique, retro-style tees, it is time-consuming and expensive, making it unpopular among professionals.

types of printing on t shirt
Printing by discharge

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1.4 Stenciling

The most basic technique for creating T-shirts at home is stenciling. You can cut a stencil by hand or use a more sophisticated tool, such as a Cricut, to electronically cut out digital designs. The dye is then applied over the stencil to create a logo or design on the T-shirt!

Professionals frequently used more advanced stenciling techniques in methods such as silk screening. If you simply want to make a few enjoyable shirts for your family, you can do it at home with very simple tools!

  • The benefits of stenciling: Include the ability to make it as complicated or as simple as you want. You also don’t need any advanced gadgets or expensive equipment. You don’t even need to use a heat press, though heat setting a fabric design in some way usually yields more permanent results.
  • The disadvantage: This simple method is better suited for individual use and will not provide you with the professional design you require if you plan to sell shirts.
types of printing on t shirt
Stenciling

1.5 Printing with a heat press

Heat pressing is one of those simple techniques for types of print on T-shirts that most people can do at home. Some transfer papers are simply heated with iron to transfer the photo to the tee. It’s also a very affordable option on the T-shirt printing market — but, like the other methods, it can get expensive when specialized equipment is considered.

Using your ink-jet printer and transfer paper, print your desired design onto the paper. Transfer paper is a type of paper that has been coated in wax and pigments. You can print the image on transfer paper with an inkjet printer and then heat press it onto your shirt. Using a heat press, apply the design to the shirt. The heat from the press activates the adhesive material on one side, which adheres the design to the shirt, while the other side has a removable, glossy tape.

Advantages:

  • It is relatively easy to set up and use.
  • Suitable for intricate designs.
  • Full-color prints that are visually stunning.

The Drawbacks:

  • Not the best choice for dark tees.
  • Slower than the majority of other methods.
  • Heat-sensitive fabrics should not be used.
types of printing for t shirts
Using a heat press to print

1.6 Inkjet printer/heat transfer printing

Heat transfer printing can be done in a variety of ways. It can be used in the same way as the previous heat press method. You also can print your design onto vinyl, then seal it onto the shirt with a heat press.

In any case, using an ink-jet printer to print a design onto a transfer is a simple process. There is no need for expensive printing or a plethora of specialized supplies. It does, however, take some time to set up each transfer and then heat press it to the shirt.

  • Advantages: It is simple to try at home. You’ll get good quality in your design and can even use a complex image like a photo if you want.
  • The Drawbacks: This method takes longer than many other processes. Because of this, it is not commonly used by professionals. It also leaves a stiff layer on top of the fabric, which may be uncomfortable, and designs will only appear on white or light-colored shirts.
types of printing for t shirts
Heat transfer printing/inkjet printer

1.7 DTG

DTG is an abbreviation for direct-to-garment printing, it is also the most popular and preferred types of printing for T shirts. This method is sometimes referred to as DTF, or direct-to-cloth printing. The process is exactly as it sounds: a special printing applies a thin ink directly onto the fabric of the tee!

This means you’ll be able to create any design that can be printed on paper. You can use a lot of colors, make complicated graphics, or even use photos. Because the ink soaks into the fabric of the shirt, the design feels soft to the touch rather than forming a stiff layer on the fabric’s surface. Another benefit of this method is that it allows you to quickly run off each design after the other without any complicated setup.

Advantages:

  • Prints that are soft and smooth.
  • Can print even the most intricate multi-color designs.
  • The small printer saves space.
  • Its fast printing makes it ideal for large orders.
  • There is little ink spillage.

The Drawbacks:

  • DTG printers are an investment, making them out of reach for those just starting out or on a tight budget.
  • Printing on cotton T-shirts is the only option.
  • The printer will require maintenance, which can be costly.
  • While technology has advanced significantly, white inks remain a maintenance issue in many machines.
different types of print on t shirts
Printers that use DTG

1.8 Airbrushing

One of types of printing on T-shirt is Airbrushing. It may not be the best T-shirt design option for a large commercial operation, but it is extremely popular among artists and small-business owners. This T-shirt design method allows for incredibly complex and artistic designs. By airbrushing over stencils one color layer at a time, you can also use this technique as a unique replacement for screen printing.

  • Benefits of this method: Its adaptability. If you’ve ever seen an airbrush artist work on a caricature in a public park, or a chef use a food-safe airbrush to adorn a cake, you know how intricately this tool can paint! Another appealing aspect of airbrushing is that it is inexpensive, to begin with, and you can mix and use a variety of paints or dyes.
  • The disadvantage of airbrushing: The time it takes. Whereas this method allows for a wide range of artistic expression, this can take hours to complete a single shirt. It may also be difficult to replicate shirts precisely if you require more than one of the exact designs.
different types of print on t shirts
Airbrushing

1.9 Screen printing

Printing technology is one of the highest-quality methods of T-shirt printing available, and it also allows for a great deal of creativity and artistry. It is also one of the world’s oldest printing methods! To screen print, make a negative of the desired design on a screen. The screen is then rolled with a special ink called plastisol ink and pressed onto the T-shirt. This forces the ink thru the design’s negative-space stencil, resulting in an image on the shirt!

Using special chemicals to create picture stencils on screens, you can create quite complex screen prints. You can also screen print in a very basic format using a Cricut to create a stencil.

Advantages:

  • The ink penetrates deep into the fabric, leaving saturated and eye-catching designs.
  • Producing bulk orders is relatively inexpensive.
  • Because silkscreens can be reused, the method is both time-efficient and environmentally friendly.
  • The designs are long-lasting.
  • Most fabrics are compatible with it (works best on natural fibers).

The drawbacks:

  • It is not suitable for complex, multi-color designs because each color requires a new screen to be created.
  • The inks used in screen printing make the process a little messy.
  • To ensure longevity, it should be stored in a large, dust-free area.
  • It takes practice to master.
different types of printing on t shirts
Printing technology

1.10 Dye sublimation

Sublimation printing is the most professional method of printing on polyester. It does not, however, work on fabrics made of all-natural fibers, such as cotton. This cool but expensive method employs heat to convert dye into a gas that bonds with the fabric.

Sublimation printing produces soft, long-lasting designs on synthetic materials such as polyester. Because of the unique way the dye adheres to the fabric, the cloth remains breathable rather than forming a thick coating. Sublimation designs will not crack or peel as a result of this.

The cost of this method is its disadvantage. This process necessitates a large amount of commercial equipment, making it much more expensive for a large business than for household use or a small business. Furthermore, the sublimation method cannot be used on cotton T-shirts.

different types of printing on t shirts
Sublimation printing

2. Compare current T-shirt printing methods

There are many types of print-on T-shirts that are available for you to choose from. The most common printing methods are screen printing, digital printing, and heat transfer printing. Screen printing is a traditional printing method that involves the use of a mesh screen to transfer ink onto the fabric. This type of printing is best for larger quantities, as it is a more expensive process. Digital printing is a newer form of printing that uses digital technology to create images that are then printed onto the fabric. This type of printing is more expensive than screen printing, but it produces high-quality results and is suitable for smaller quantities. Heat transfer printing is a process in which an image is printed onto a piece of paper that is then transferred to the fabric using heat and pressure. This type of printing is less expensive than screen or digital printing, but the results are not as high quality. Below is a comparison table of current printing styles:

  Quality Design Options Cost Time Number of Prints
Plastisol/indirect screen printing High Medium Medium Varies Varies
Vinyl High Low Low Varies Low
DTG High High High Low High
Heat Press Printing Medium High Low Low Medium
Sublimation High High High Medium Varies
Screen Printing High Medium High High High
Airbrushing High Very High Low Very High Very Low
Heat Transfer Printing Medium High Low Low Medium
Discharge Printing High Medium High High Low
types of ways to print t shirts
Print-on T-shirts come in a variety of styles

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3. How much does it cost to get started with printing?

Overall, DIY T-shirt printing methods such as stenciling are the least expensive, while commercial-grade production methods such as discharge printing or DTG are the most expensive.

When choosing a method, you must consider both the start-up cost and the cost per shirt. Many of the methods described in this article necessitate the purchase of expensive equipment. However, once you have that equipment, you can make each shirt for a very low price!

types of ways to print t shirts
How much does it cost to start a printing business?

4. Criteria for choosing types of print on T-shirts

To choose the appropriate T-shirt printing styles, you need to choose based on what criteria. Refer to the experience of choosing a T-shirt printing style right below!

4.1 Speed of production

If you need millions of shirts printed quickly, you don’t want to go with a slow method. Usually, it is very clear whether one option is suitable for a single or assembly line, so make sure to look into it.

different types of printing in t-shirt
Production speed

4.2 Cost

Printing costs can vary greatly. For those on a tight budget, there are more economical options. Additionally, if you want to begin using some of the methods at home, users should consider the cost of additional equipment and supplies. Once you’ve determined your costs, use our profitability calculator to calculate your revenue.

different types of printing in t-shirt
Cost

4.3 Compatibility with various fabrics

Not all methods are appropriate for all fabrics. If you have a thick cotton shirt, dye sublimation is the last thing you want to do because it will ruin it. Each method has a preferred fabric type, which should be checked ahead of time.

types of t shirt printing machine
Compatibility with a variety of textiles

5. FAQs

Below is the answer to your questions for the information about types of print on T-shirts:

5.1 How to print cotton T-shirts the best way?

The heat transfer technique with an inkjet printer or cutting out and using a design is the best way to print cotton T-shirts. If you have a regular inkjet or laser printer, you can quickly generate any design and then seal the transfer paper to your shirt with an iron or a small heat press.

types of t shirt printing machine
The best approach to print cotton T-shirts

5.2 How much should I charge for my personalized T-shirts?

T-shirt entrepreneurs typically charge between $5 and $9 per color-printed T-shirt. However, there are several factors to consider before deciding on a price. For example, the higher the price, the more complex the design.

types of print on t shirt and tie
The charge for customised T-shirts?

5.3 What types of printing on T shirt do you prefer? DTG or screen?

Screen printing is the traditional type of printing garment, with roots dating back to ancient times. However, there is a reason why it has withstood the test of time, even with the invention of new methods such as DTG printing. Because screen printing print is thicker than DTG ink, screen-printed designs appear brighter than DTG-printed designs.

Nonetheless, DTG is superior in terms of speed and space, not to mention that it does not produce the mess that screen printing does, with ink spilling all over the place.

types of print on t shirt and tie
T-shirt printing styles

5.4 What is the most long-lasting type of T-shirt printing?

Screen printing and sublimation are the most durable types of T-shirt printing, but several other techniques will also last a long time!

On the other hand, you may notice that DTG designs begin to fade over time. Heat transfer designs have a tendency to crack or peel over time.

types of print on t shirt and print
T-shirt printing that is long-lasting

5.5 Which printing method is best for polyester tee?

Professional-level printing on polyester T-shirts is done with sublimation, but you can also print on polyester with screen printing or other methods.

The thing to remember about polyester is that it is heat sensitive. If you watch the temperature and timings, you can use a heat press on it, but it presents far more obstacles than working with the more durable cotton.

types of print on t shirt and print
The best printing process for polyester

5.6 What are the most common T-shirt printing techniques?

Some of the most popular T-shirt printing methods are direct-to-garment, screen printing, vinyl heat transfer, dye-sublimation, and heat pressing.

types of print on t shirt and print
Popular T-shirt printing methods

Above are all the quality types of print on T-shirts, widely used in recent years. Hopefully with the information that TeeNavi shares, readers can find out for themselves the most suitable method and style of T-shirt printing. See more interesting information about T-shirts through related articles of TeeNavi!

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