Heat Press Machine vs Screen Printing

Conducting a Heat Press Machine vs Screen Printing comparison is an important procedure that potential buyers do prior to an actual purchase. Doing so can help them determine which of the two would best suit their needs. This can be accomplished by conducting an extensive research and the necessary assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of each printing process.

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.

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Q. Why do we need this comparison?

This is a legit question and a comparison is needed to help you as a buyer or a startup business in choosing the best shirt sublimation printing process to choose that will fit your budget. This can also help people who want to switch to another printing process by comparing the two techniques and the technical and business parameters. Let’s start.

Q. What is the actual printing technique involved?

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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 in a shirt. 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 silkscreen is held in a frame and placed over the garment to be printed. After that, the paint or ink is spread over the screen. The ink passes through the area which was cut cleanly. If it’s just a single color print, all you need is to dry the garment, otherwise, continue the screen printing 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 the heat and pressure to do its job. Wait for the buzzer and walla! A finished printed shirt. You don’t need to do much hard work, just place -> punch -> release and repeat.

If you go this printing route, there’s hardly any work involved in printing custom t-shirts. Just download a design, print the design using a printer, trim the design if needed and then use the t-shirt printing machine and you’re done.

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Q. What is the difference between the two prints?

The two methods will yield different kinds 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 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 more glossy and durable. If a high-quality paint is used, print life becomes as equal that of the garment. These prints have a softer feel as the ink completely fuses with the fabric and becomes a part of the shirt.

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

It doesn’t matter what you choose. Both screen printing or heat transfer requires these basic pieces of equipment to work. Here is the list of things that you need for each printing process.

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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 pieces of equipment needed for silk screen printing is less than the heat transfer printing.

Q. Whats the ideal situation for their usage?

It is true that every tool has a specific use, the same goes for these techniques too. Let’s have a look at the noted advantages:

Heat transfer method: If you are just starting the business, it will be the ideal choice because it is a simple process. If you’re not producing bulk orders and just use the designs for personal use, you can just keep the design and reprint them if needed. It’s also easy to get fresh designs because the demand for heat press shirts is dynamic.

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

Q. What kind of printing do you need?

The method of printing totally depends on your business plan, 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 color change is needed 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 tight deadlines, then screen printing will be more cost-effective. But if you have a tight schedule, heat transfer will work. If the durability and vibrancy of the print are required you should opt for the screen printing.

You now have a proper idea of which printing technique will suit your business needs and choose the method you’ll feel comfortable with.

Heat Press Machine vs Screen Printing Comparison

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Heat Press Machine Pros

The use of a 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. 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 heat and pressure 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. 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 eliminates a messy job.
  5. Heat press machines do not leave registration marks on the printed output.

Heat Press Machine Cons

The heat press machines have their downsides and below are the most common:

  1. Getting and using a heat press machine involves a relatively expensive setup cost.
  2. The machine cannot layer colors, especially on shirts since doing so will make the garment heavy and bulky.
  3. Can make the printing job more time-consuming 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 because of these advantages:

  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 to 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 to those done by means of heat transfers.

Screen Printing Cons

Those who strongly oppose the use of screen printing usually criticize the method by pointing out 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.
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Check out this Short video about Screen Printing and Heat Press Printing

Frequently Asked Questions

Do screen-printed shirts crack?

Normally it shouldn’t. The only reason that the print on a shirt would crack is the fact that the ink used is thick and wasn’t cured properly during the heating/drying stage after printing. If you use quality ink and perform the entire printing process as necessary, your shirt should last you significantly longer before showing any type of damage. You can also use discharge screen printing, which won’t crack or peel under any circumstances.

How long do heat press shirts usually last?

When taken good care of, your vinyl heat transfer shirts should last for 50 washes or even more. Approximately the same amount goes for other types of heat press printed shirts, so you shouldn’t worry about this as long as you take good care of your shirt, wash it in appropriate conditions, and don’t forget to turn it inside-out before putting it into the washing machine. Also, you should be careful when ironing it as well as to not apply excessive heat to the fabric.

Can you make money by screen printing shirts?

Absolutely! There are numerous screen printing businesses out there and they can be quite profitable given the right marketing and business strategies. Some businesses are estimated to make more than $100,000 a year.

With a good setup, you can print up to 180 shirts per hour. Even if you charge your customers a really fair price for what you’re doing, you’ll still be able to make a profit even when you’re relatively new to the market. However, you should keep in mind all of the general economic rules that businesses should follow if you don’t want to fail.

Final Thoughts

We hope that the questions and answers above as well as the overall article will help you make the right decision. Best of luck!

Last update on 2023-09-17 at 21:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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