What's the deal with this " Digital t-shirt printing"? Is it the same as " print on demand"?
Digital t-shirt printing is starting to come of
age. Since BASF has developed a White ink for use in bubble jet and ink
jet printers along with a curable textile ink. Companies can now print
onto garments or textiles using the same printing technologies as the
desktop printer attached to your homes personal computer system.
What are the Pros & Cons of Digital tee shirt imaging as
compared to other processes like Heat transfers, Sublimation or silk
Unlike heat transfers or sublimation,
Digital printing can now be done right onto colored garments as a White
ink can be applied first. Heat transfers do come in white however each
transfer must be cut out of the square or rectangular paper an applied.
It leaves a big plastic window on the garment. Sublimation can only be
don on Polyester goods and not 100% cotton.
Silk screen printing was invented in Asia some 4000 years ago. It has
come a long way since then using discoveries in modern technology and
materials.. It is THE standard in imaging anything textile.!
Here is a breakdown of some of the pro's & con's of Print on demand
custom t-shirts as compared to the Industry standard of Silk screening.
1.) PRICE: There are no
set ups associated with this form of reproduction. This means
mechanical color separated films and screens are not needed. This is a
major cost saving factor and has made it affordable to do just one or
two full color printed items. Please
see the number one con as an opposite effect of this.
2.) TIME: If you find a
shop that does not have a lot of orders going on at the time, It is
possible for shirts to be done While you wait! do to the lack of set
1.) PRICE + TIME: Digital
printing is a slow process as compared to silk screening. With the silk
screen process, Once the job is set up , Hundreds of full color
garments can be produced on just one press in 30 minuets or less.
Digital printing may take that long just to spray one shirt. Silk
screening can reproduce t-shirt quantities at 500 percent faster then
This means you can get MAJOR price breaks for ordering
quantities of silk screen printed shirts whereas digital printing does
not give you a price break for quantities! this can be the difference
from $3.00 bucks a tee compared to $8.00 to $20.00 a shirt.
Also in this area is the fact that you pay the same price for a one
color digital print as a full color digital print. Screen printing
charges per color and can generate Free mixed tertiary colors on press
2.) QUALITY: Digital printing Sprays the ink onto the garment
whereas Screening uses a Squeegee with pressure to Push the ink into
the fiber thus completely permeating the material completely. In fact
most digital printers spray an alcohol down first just to get the ink
to slightly absorb into the textile weave a few millimeters below the
surface. Screen printing can also use different meshes of screen
to adjust thick or thinner deposits of ink.
These inks fade quickly from Sunlight, laundering and
wear. Silk screened shirts.... I still have a Pink Floyd shirt
from the seventies, The shirt is falling apart but the print still
3.) SPECIAL EFFECTS: Unlike
silk screening, Digital print on demand cannot print creative custom
effect inks like.. glitters, shimmers, metallics, glow in the dark,
neon, florescent black light, puff & raised,Color changing
ultra violet chromatic, clear gel gloss, Foils, sued, Light reflective,
vinyl, Lycra & specialty material inks, as well as exact pantone
color match inks.
Color matching, Digital cannot do a color
match! in fact re-orders may result in an image that is completely
different in color.!
Three-D effect, Digital printing does not
offer killer effect that can be done by a screen printer like, High
density printing, Fake process, Indexing, Flamingo printing and a whole
In short, Digital print on demand custom tee shirts are only for those
who want just a few Cotton only garments that are just a generic
graphic or photo and are not meant to be a keepsakes or retail
This is why there are so many Cafepress "$#@ks" blogs and website.....
people are charged 20 bucks for a tee that will fade, the store owner
only gets two bucks and the images are usually pretty cheesy stolen