After designing my first graphic t-shirt, I had to look at the different methods of T-Shirt Printing. I wanted to provide the best durable printing method I could offer to the customers who support us here at Milk & Babble.
There are many different types of T-Shirt Printing methods, the most common are Screen Printing, Heat-Transfer Vinyl Cutting, DTG Printing, and Dye Sublimation.
1. Screen Printing
This form of t-shirt printing is common with the professionals, as it is long-lasting and can print large quantities fast, however, the downside is that it takes a longtime to set-up, hence it has limitations with small quantities. The process is transferring a stenciled design onto a flat surface using a mesh screen, ink and squeegee.
2. Heat-Transfer Vinyl Cutting
This method is quite common with dye cutting machines such as Cricut or Silhouette that can be purchased at stores such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby. These machines, are of course smaller in scale and are often used by crafters that do custom t-shirts. A design is uploaded to a software, and then the computer tells the machine to cut a design out. This design is then heat pressed onto the surface of the fabric. This method is ideal for one-off designs, hence is often used for personalizations or small quantity custom t-shirts, the limitations are printing in large quantities.
3. DTG Printing
The Direct-To-Garment method is perfect for one-off designs as there is no setup time. DTG can print detailed designs and photorealisitc images with no colour limitations, however, it is less durable and the fabric may fade in a year or less. This method of printing is similar to printing on paper, but the printing machine will put the ink into the fibers of the clothing. DTG printing is cost-effective in small batches, but in large batches it has its limitations, as the printer can only handle one shirt at a time. In addition, the lowest price of a Epson DTG printer is $20000+.
4. Dye Sublimation
Works best on light coloured shirts or fabrics. A special type of ink is required for this type of printing, and the printing is exposed with heat on polyester fabric. The ink is embedded into the fabric rather than printed on the surface.
There are so many different methods of t-shirt printing, here at Milk & Babble, we employ the method of Screen Printing as well as Heat Transfer Vinyl Cutting for our one-off designs Custom Printed T-Shirts, Custom Baby Onesie, Custom Crew Neck Sweatshirts, and Custom Bibs. On occasion, we do outsource to a local printer for DTG printing for our more complicated designs such as the Pho Unisex T-Shirt as it has more colour details.