Lots of techniques to choose from; two of the most popular, however, are sublimation and screen printing. Both options yield visually appealing results and offer numerous other benefits depending on your application.
If you are trying to decide between sublimation and screen printing, keep reading to learn more about the processes and understand their differences.
Screen printing is one of the most common methods of customizing garments, and it has been around for decades. This technique uses a squeegee to force ink through a screen and onto a t-shirt.
It’s done by hand or with a screen printing machine. On the other hand, sublimation prints are a printing technique in which a design is created using a particular printer and then applied to the garment using a heat press.
Comparison: Screen printing vs. sublimation
Both screen printing and sublimation ink have their advantages, so how do you choose between (Screen printing vs. sublimation) them?
The printing industry has two famous types of imprints (Screen printing or sublimation) currently practiced. One is screen printing, and the other is 3D sublimation printing. You will often find these two types of printing, primarily when you practice printing on fabric or ceramic. But what do these two different methods mean? Is there any substantial difference between the two, or are both synonyms? Let’s talk today about sublimation and screen printing. Completely known of the information about screen printing vs. sublimation.
Screen Printing vs. Ink Sublimation: How they Work?
Screen printing is an analog technology that pushes the ink with a squeegee through a pattern on a fine mesh screen and the substrate. This process can be performed manually in a manual screen printing machine or with an automatic machine. Sublimation of ink is a digital printing process that requires a particular printer similar to an inkjet printer.
For dye-sublimation, it is first necessary to print a mirror image of the design on special transfer paper, which applies to the support with a hot press. The heat of the press sublimates the ink on the transfer paper, which means that it passes directly from a solid to a gas without becoming an intermediate liquid. As a gas, the ink penetrated the material and decorated it.
What is the Right Method for your Project?
These are some of the most important factors to consider:
The high volume is the bread and butter of screen printing. The higher the print order of the screen, the more profitable it becomes compared to other methods. On the contrary, dye sublimation takes a long time, is expensive, and is impractical for large orders.
Small orders can be equally impractical for screen printing. Screen printing requires To compensate for the set-up times. Many screen printing seminars will have a minimum order requirement to make the work proper.
Versatility and limitations
Screen printing is a very versatile process, which allows you to print on almost any garment anywhere and virtually all substrates in addition to shirts. However, it is easier on flat surfaces and more commonly used on clothing. While sublimation ink also allows you to decorate almost all products (especially banners and banners), your options are more limited when it comes to shirts.
One of the most significant limitations of dye sublimation is that it only works on polyester or other special synthetic garments, so cotton shirts are not an option. While ink sublimation offers vivid prints, it works well only on white or light-colored clothes.
Dye sublimation will not be visible on dark substrates. On the other hand, silk-screen printing is applied to garments of almost all materials and colors.
Setting up jobs
The most significant limitation of screen printing is that it can only apply one color at a time to the print. So multi-colored designs require multiple screens with different ink colors that must be correctly aligned or recorded. So that levels are correctly aligned in the final printed image.
The silk-screen configuration requires a lot of work, especially for multi-colored jobs. You don’t have to worry about aligning separate layers of ink with ink sublimation; This method prints all the colors simultaneously. Sublimation of the ink also allows individual projects to be customized more easily than screen printing.
For ink sublimation, change the design file and print a new transfer; Silk-screen printing requires the preparation of a completely new screen.
Management of complex designs
Both screen printing and ink sublimation can reproduce fine details and photorealistic images. Ink sublimation always uses combinations of CMYO ink (cyan, magenta, yellow and transparent) to produce any desired color, so photorealistic images do not require additional settings.
Although more suitable for simpler projects, Silk-screen printing can achieve the same result by using four-color processes or simulated printing processes, which recreate photorealistic images using small dot grids.
That requires a little practice to obtain the correct result in printing and creating the graphics. Carefully align the points to achieve the desired result. While ink sublimation allows you to create detailed prints easily, this is detrimental to the possibilities of special effects.
By nature, dye sublimation leaves you with a flat impression absorbed by the garment fibers. Screen printing allows you to use special inks to create various effects, from glossy metal scale designs and glossy and laminated designs to 3D puff ink prints.
Creating comfortable and durable prints
Both screen printing and ink sublimation can produce prints with a soft hand. The dye sublimation ink permeates the substrate material, so the final impression does not have a noticeable weight, which leaves you with a more comfortable garment.
It can achieve with screen printing with water-based ink or discharge, which also permeates the fabric (plastisol screen printing ink is located on the top of the material, creating a heavier print). Both methods, if done correctly, produce lasting impressions that do not break or fade after repeated washing.
The sublimation ink prints polymerize during the drawing application with the heat press. At the same time, the serigraphy ink must be heated after printing for correct polymerization. For producing screenprints at any volume, a conveyor belt dryer requires.
Both screen printing and dye sublimation are precious and versatile methods for decorators of garments and promotional products. Both processes have positive and negative aspects, projects for which they are more appropriate and projects that will not work.
It might be a good idea to consider offering both services in your print shop. So you can take advantage of each other’s strengths to provide your customers with quality prints at any volume while keeping your profit margins as high as possible.