Creative t-shirt design continues to grow in popularity with more and more people attempting to enter the t-shirt business. Even though there is an incredible line of t-shirts already out there, there is still plenty of room to create the unique and artistic designs. For the first time designer it may not be practical to invest in a personal printer, so it helps to know the different printing options in the market:
The transfer paper printer (also known as iron on transfers) is the most basic and straightforward option. It is a simple and easy process, but is seen as an unprofessional method. It is practical for a small home set up and only relies on a design, transfer paper, a printer and a computer. The process is simply printing the design onto a special type of paper and ironing it onto the t-shirt. This method is great for the one-off designs, but shouldn’t be used for runs of 50 or more t-shirts. Out of the different printing options, transfer paper is likely to give the lowest quality.
Screen printing is the most traditional method for t-shirt printing. This method can provide a high-quality finish with any graphic looking soft, smooth and vibrant. It is the most practical option for those involved in mass production. The cost of creating the individual templates or stencils means it is not a worthwhile option for smaller or one-off runs.
There is the option of screen printing at home with a DIY kit. But, there is quite a learning curve to fully understand the proper printing technique. Also, the home setup needs a lot of space to let the t-shirts dry after printing.
The direct to garment method is one of the latest printing options. It basically involves printing a design directly onto a t-shirt without the need for transfers or templates. It is much like a large flat-bed printer that accepts a t-shirt instead of paper for printing.
With this being a quite new printing option, it is still quite expensive. While the print quality is pretty good, it still isn’t as appealing as the traditional method of screen printing. Plus, there is a high risk of the print fading over time. The design can feature many different colors, but the print is best applied to the white garments.