What You Need to Know about Major Apparel Print Processes

Major apparel print processes are becoming more and more popular. Increasingly, brands are recognizing the power of printed apparel in building brand identity. After all, getting customers to wander around with a T-shirt that boasts your brand’s logo is a powerful form of advertising and can significantly improve your brand’s visibility. If you’re considering major apparel print processes, you should know a few things.

Direct-to-Garment vs. Sublimation Printing vs. Screen-Printing

When you opt to print branded apparel, one of the first decisions you will need to make is the printing method. When it comes to major apparel print processes, there are three types of printing you should be aware of: direct-to-garment printing, sublimation printing, and screen-printing. While the three processes all produce high-quality images on apparel, there are some key differences.

Direct-to-garment printing, or DTG, often is described as the inkjet printing of the merchandise world. This is because much like any standard office printer, DTG printers use an array of different inks to produce virtually any color imaginable. Companies with expertise in merchandise printing are able to do print jobs quickly for even very detailed designs. For example, photos are often printed on shirts using DTG technology. Moreover, DTG allows for seam-to-seam printing, meaning that it is possible to print all over the garment. However, the major disadvantage is that DTG printing limits options in terms of where a design can be placed on a shirt and how big that design can be.

With sublimation printing, a computer printer uses heat in order to transfer dye onto apparel. Unlike DTG, which only applies ink to the surface on a piece of apparel, sublimation printing uses dyes that penetrate the surface of the garment to recolor it from the inside out. Sublimation dye won’t peel, crack, or fade. Plus, you can’t feel the print on the garment, so it is an ideal option when you’re trying to get graphics onto an article of clothing, like a T-shirt with a sleek feel. The major downside of sublimation printing is that because of the chemistry of this specific process, it only works on polyester-based apparel.

With screen-printing, this process makes use of a kind of mesh screen to transfer ink onto a piece of apparel. Screen-printing allows for versatile design placement and also is quite cost effective for large batches. However, given that this isn’t a digitized printing mechanism, there are limitations to what you can print, as a special screen needs to be produced for each design. Therefore, it can be quite expensive to print designs with multiple colors, and it is only possible to print relatively simple shape designs.

Deciding on a Print Method

Now that you’re familiar with the major apparel print processes, how can you decide on a print method? As a rule of thumb, you will need to consider quantity, design type, design size and fabric type.

·      Quantity: If you’re planning to produce a few customized garments, than either DGT or sublimation printing will probably be your best bet. However, if you’re planning to print many of the same type of garment with the same design, you will probably want to consider screen-printing.

·      Design type: Ultimately, design type is the most important factor in determining what kind of print process to choose. Design always dictates method. For example, if your design entails an image with many different colors and elaborate details or you are planning to print a photo on apparel, then DTG or sublimation printing are the best options. Sublimation printing, in particular, is ideal for elaborate designs with a number of different colors given that it allows for a high level of detail. For simple black-and-white lettering or a simple geometric logo, you may want to go with screen-printing.

·      Design size: It isn’t just the type of the design that will influence the print method; design size also matters. Screen-printing tends to be well suited to smaller designs, whereas DTG and sublimation printing are both much better suited to larger, “seam-to-seam” designs that take up a considerable amount of space on the garment.

·      Fabric type: When choosing a print method, you will also need to consider the fabric type you are printing on. For sublimation printing, the garment will need to be either polyester or some kind of polyester blend. However, note that 100 percent polyester is recommended for optimal results in terms of coloring. Screen-printing and DTG, by contrast, are conducive to just about any fabric type. 

To ensure that major apparel print processes are cost effective and to maximize the chances of a high-quality product, it is crucial to choose an appropriate type of printing process. Making the right decision is key. When in doubt, it never hurts to contact an expert.

Consider an All-Inclusive Printing Service

Once you have decided on a printing method, it is time to get a business strategy in place. You will need to design the apparel, find a printer, and figure out how to market and sell your apparel to your consumers. Doing all of this on your own can be a hassle, so it may be a good idea to seek help from the pros.

In conclusion, it is important to note that when it comes to major apparel print processes, it can be tough for brands to go it alone. It can often be advantageous for brands to opt for an inclusive printing service that includes website support, digital marketing, technology packages and apparel design, and manufacturing and fulfillment. 

To learn more about on-demand manufacturing contact the experts at 10twelve.