When to use digital printing or when to screen printing for your t-shirts

We are often asked what is the difference between digital and screen printing and which method should I use. You can read about screen printing and digital printing in our services pages to help give you an understanding on the two methods. But for when to use each method can be a tricky one and as always there are lots of variables that need to be looked at before making a decision and it is not always a black or white option. 

The first thing to consider is number of garments that are to be printed with your design. If you want less than 10 items then your only choice is digital as there is a minimum number of 10 for screen printing. As this is digital then there are no limits on the number of colours that we can print in the design. OK so there we have an easy answer because there is only one answer there are a few more scenarios where you have no choice and that is when you are using full colour artwork or using 6.7 or 8 spot colours on quantities of less than 100. 


Full colour artwork means we are using shades and tones, which can be a photograph but can also mean gradients of the same colour. There are times we can screen print these gradients on lower numbers but we would need to see your artwork to confirm this

Spot colours are solid colours of ink and the image on th eright shows a 3 colour example.


What if my design is just 1 colour and I want 10 of them? This is where we can either go the traditional way of screen printing or choose digital printing. so how do I decide? Screen printing is the most durable and is cheaper to actually print so surely this is the best option?




The downside of screen printing is that there is a screen making charge on your first order, so if you are not planning on ordering any more shirts in the future then maybe you might want to choose digital to make them slightly cheaper, however digital printing is not as hardwearing as screen printing and you have to be more careful when washing your shirt. Our ink manufacturers recommend that the shirt is washed at 30 degrees with shirt turned inside out., although I wash shirts my digitally printed shirts at 40 degrees and the print is still looking good after a year.

When you start to introduce more colours into your design then digital becomes the better option on numbers less than 20, so if you’re using 3 or 4 or more colours then digital is the better option.

As a general rule if you’re likely to want to print your design again in the future then it is often worth investing in the screens as in the long term you shirts will be cheaper.

Most company workwear will be screen printed as it tends to be treated with less care than you might treat your favourite t-shirt, but if for example you need some t-shirts for a promotion or an exhibition then digital printing can give you better results for on multi-colour artwork- great for promoting products!.

So in conclusion the greater the number of shirts we print the more likely it is that traditional screen printing will be the option for you. We have a diagram as a guide to help you decide on what type of print is best for you, but this is just a best price guidline on your frist order and doesn’t take into account repeat orders where the will be more red in the chart. The orange means it is not a clear cut decision. We always want to offer you the best solution for your requirements so if you are unsure are expert staff will be able to best advise you.


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