When to Choose Screen Printing Over Digital Printing

Despite the fact that modern methods such as digital printing are far quicker and sometimes cheaper to produce, screen printing continues to be a highly popular choice amount printers.

Screen printing is a method that has changed little over 100s of years.  You might assume that computerized digital printing would be a faster, superior method.  In fact screen printing remains the favorite choice for a lot of printing companies.

Each has its own merits so let’s take a look at the differences between them, and when to choose one over the other.

Screen printing can be used to print onto all types of clothing: t-shirts, hoodies, backpacks.  The process involves creating a stencil and applying one color at a time.  The more colors you have, the more screens are needed.  Because of this it is not cost effective for the consumer to have only a small number printed (usually less than 10), in fact most printers won’t accept less than 10 orders for screen printing anyway.

One of the most noticeable benefits of screen printing is the vibrancy of the colors.  The ink used in screen printing is far thicker than in digital printing.  This also helps with longevity.  Screen printed shirts tend to last a long time, even with washes.  When it comes to what fabrics you want to print onto, screen printing comes out on top.   Use it to print onto cotton, polyester, nylon, silk and a whole lot more.

It should be said that for both screen and digital 100% cotton produces the best results.

Digital printing is a quick, convenient way of printing high amounts of detail onto one, or 100s of t-shirts, hoodies, mouse mats etc. To allow for the higher level of detail the ink is applied more thinly, because of this digital prints come up better on light colored garments.  If you have a complex design with several colors and shading, digital will most certainly be better.

As digital printing has no setup costs it is much more affordable for small orders.  It also means the turnaround time could be a lot quicker too.

The disadvantage is that it can only be used to print onto 100% cotton clothing.  Digital is not as hard wearing as screen printed clothing either.  Most of the time company workwear is screen printed for the durability benefits.  It is worn most days of the week and in rougher environments so needs to be made to last.


When to Choose Screen Printing or Digital?


Choosing Screen Printing

  • You plan to print more of the same design in the future
  • You need more durable workwear
  • You want a more vibrant color
  • You want to print onto darker garments


Choosing Digital Printing

  • You have a complex design
  • You want to print less than 10 garments
  • Quicker turnaround time