Heat Press Machine vs Screen Printing

Conducting a Heat Press Machine vs Screen Printing comparison is an important procedure that potential buyers of these devices should conduct prior to actual purchase. This is because doing such can help them determine which of the two would best suit their needs. This can be accomplished by conducting an extensive research about the features of each method and doing the necessary assessment. They can also look at the existing pros and cons of both methods in handling the selection process particularly the following.

If you are a part of garment printing industry or planning to get into it, the word heat transfer and screen printing must sound familiar to you. They are the two most used print technologies in the industry today. So let’s make a quick comparison between the two to determine which one you should use.

Q. Why do we need this comparison?

Yep, it seems a legit question and most of you must have it. Well let me make myself clear, we have this comparison in order to help those people who are looking to start their print business but are unable to select the proper print media. Also, there are people who are relying on one of the above-mentioned printing methods and want to switch to another. This article is focused to help such guys, by comparing the two techniques on various business parameters. So without wasting any further moment let’s begin the comparison.

Q. What is the actual printing technique involved?

Screen printing method:

In this technique, a screen made of fiber such as silk, ethylene or nylon is used. The screen is cut carefully to create a stencil for the actual design you need to print. Depending on the complexity and number of color to be used, the design created in multiple screens as each screen can use only one color. The screen is held in a frame and placed over the garment to be printed, now the paint or ink is spread over the screen. The ink passes through the area which was cut cleanly. If the print is of single color then all you need is to dry the garment, else continue the process until you achieve the final design.

Heat transfer printing method:

In this style of printing, you print the drawing on a special type of transfer paper. If you select vinyl transfer, then design needs to be cut out from the vinyl transfer paper using a good vinyl cutter. Now that you have the design ready just, put it on the substrate at the proper position. Start the heat transfer machine and place the substrate and design underneath the platen. Set the temperature and timer according to the substrate and printing ink, press the platen and wait for buzzer noise to make you happy. You don’t need to do much hard work, just place -> punch -> release and repeat.

So if you go technique wise, there is hardly anything you do while using heat transfer printing. You can download the design, print them using the printer and heat press them in the press. It’s very much simple.

Q. What is the difference between the two prints?

The method yield different kind of prints for example if you consider heat transfer you have the options to print complex design with multiple colors. As the printer can print any kind of design easily without any issue. The prints are minutely detailed and offer various shades of a saw color.

On the other hand, the screen print provides you with the options to select from a large number of inks and paints. As a result, the designs are can be much more glossy and durable. If a high-quality paint is used, the life of print becomes as equal that of the garment. These printed have a much softer feel as the ink completely fuses with the fabric and becomes a part of it.

Q. What is the equipment required for the respective printing techniques?

It doesn’t matter you choose screen printing or heat transfer both of them require the basic equipment to work. Here is the list of things that you need for each one of them.

Screen printing:-

  • Tape – to hold the films and screens
  • Films – to adheres the silkscreen
  • Squeegees – to wipe the paint evenly on the screen
  • Screens – to make the paint or ink fuse where required
  • Ink/Paints – you all know why we need it

Heat transfer printing:

  • Printer – to print the designs
  • Heat transfer machine – to transfer your printed design on the substrate
  • Vinyl cutter– to cut the vinyl design ( if you are working on vinyl transfer )
  • Computer – to operate your printer or vinyl cutter

The equipment required by screen printing is more in number whereas the requirements for heat transfer is comparatively less.

Q. Whats the ideal situation for their usage?

It has been rightly said that every tool has a specific use, the same goes for these techniques too. Let’s have a look at the conditions that favor each one of them.

Heat transfer method: If you are just starting the business, it will be the ideal choice. As it is very much simple in terms of the process. In the very begging you don’t have to mass produce, rather you need some fresh designs, which are unique. This method will help if your demand is very much dynamic in nature. Just keep the printed designs and you can get those T-shirts done when you want. Moreover, you can have updated design every other day.

Screen Printing method: This method of printing is recommended when you demand is very much high and not too diverse in nature. If you have big production facility then this is your way to success. The printing cost gets reduced as the count increases. Just create some screens and BAAMM!!! you are in the business.

Q. What kind of printing do you need?

The answer to the above question lies with you itself. The method of printing totally depends on the quality, quantity and the time required to print the order. For example, if you need to produce over 500 types of similar T-shirts where the ink color may change then screen printing is your way. But, if you need all prints to be unique and multicolor then its time for the heat transfer method. If you do not have tough deadlines then screen printing will be much cost efficient but if time is less heat transfer will work. If the durability and vibrancy of the print are required you should opt for the screen printing.

Now you may have got a proper idea that which printing technique will suit your business the most. Depending on your requirement select any of the methods you feel comfortable with.

Heat Press Machine vs Screen Printing Comparison

Heat Press Machine Pros

The use of heat press machine is viewed as an effective image transfer method due to the following.

  1. Many printing firms prefer to use a heat press machine in doing the job since it makes the work more convenient. This is because using the machine does not require a lot of preparation. Instead, it only requires them to print the images or characters that must be printed on garments and other items using specialized papers and inks. As soon as this is accomplished, the printed image on the paper will then be transferred by heating and pressing it using the machine.
  2. Using a heat press machine to do a number of printing jobs allows the user to gain greater control and flexibility on what he is doing since the machine usually comes in a package which includes the most advanced graphics and software accessories along with a set of specially-formulated inks that are very helpful in obtaining the best quality end products.
  3. The heat press machine is capable of using several colors in printing images and characters are given that these do not overlap. Thus, this can be used in producing items with realistic prints.
  4. Using the best heat press machine makes doing the job not messy.
  5. Heat press machines do not leave registration marks on the printed output.

Heat Press Machine Cons

The heat press machine suffers from a number of downsides and the most common of these are provided below.

  1. Getting and using a heat press machine involves a relatively expensive setup cost.
  2. The machine cannot layer more colors, especially on shirts since doing so will make the garment heavy and bulky.
  3. Can make the printing job more time to consume since it requires the user to precisely cut and eliminates extra paper from the image that will be transferred.
  4. The print made by the machine does not usually last long and fades easily.
  5. Can only be used to print on light colored items.

Screen Printing Pros

Screen printing still remains as a preferred printing method for most individuals due to the following.

  1. Works well in printing larger designs that make use of one or two colors.
  2. The images printed using this method does not fade or easily gets damaged.
  3. The printing process works even on items with dark colors.
  4. Screen printing is the ideal method for the bulk printing job. This is because the selected pattern can be used a lot of times or until all of the objects subjected to printing are consumed. In addition that, it only requires the use of more ink minus the time-consuming cut-out process involved when the printing is done using the heat press machine.
  5. Works well when used for printing on cotton and poly cotton fabrics
  6. The print produced on shirts and other fabrics are capable of withstanding the roughness caused by machine washing.
  7. The method allows printing larger images.
  8. Silk printing provides softer print areas compared those done by means of heat transfers.

Screen Printing Cons

Those who strongly oppose the use screen printing usually criticize the method by pointing some of its known downsides, particularly the following.

  1. The method requires separate application of colors. Thus, the use of more colors makes the actual printing cost higher.
  2. Screen printing does not work well when using multi-colored designs.
  3. The printing method cannot be used on coated fabrics
  4. Preliminary setup requires long hours.
  5. The method requires the use of more screens for every color used.
  6. Screen printing requires a longer turn around time.

Check out this Short video about Screen Printing and Heat Press Printing

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