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About printing techniques and such.

Person pulling a squeegee across a mesh screen while printing a t-shirt

Printing on fabric has evolved significantly, offering various techniques to achieve vibrant, durable designs. Today we want to do a quick sesh on the most popular methods, focusing on screen printing and sublimation printing, something we do here at Sub as well

Screen Printing

How it Works: Screen printing involves creating a stencil (or screen) and using it to apply layers of ink on the printing surface. Each color requires a separate screen, and the ink is pressed through the screen onto the fabric.

Benefits: Screen printing is known for its durability and vibrant colors, making it ideal for bulk orders. The ink sits on top of the fabric, creating a raised, textured feel that is both visually appealing and long-lasting.

Applications: This method is commonly used for t-shirts, hoodies, and other apparel items. It’s also favored for promotional materials like tote bags and posters. For example, our Blue Whale tee is an excellent illustration of how screen printing can achieve high-quality, durable prints that stand out.

Sublimation Printing

How it Works: Sublimation printing uses heat to transfer dye onto fabric. The process involves printing a design onto special paper, which is then placed on the fabric. Heat and pressure turn the dye into gas, bonding it with the fabric at a molecular level.

Benefits: Sublimation printing produces high-resolution, full-color images with intricate details. The colors are vibrant, and because the dye becomes part of the fabric, the prints are very durable and won’t crack or peel.

Applications: This technique is ideal for printing on polyester and polyester-blend fabrics. It’s often used for sportswear, activewear, and custom items like mugs and phone cases. Our Panthers Polyester Sportswear Tee and the Chromium Polyester Blend Tee showcase how sublimation printing can achieve vibrant, long-lasting designs, perfect for activewear.

Other Printing Techniques

Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printing

How it Works: DTG printing involves using a specialized inkjet printer to apply water-based inks directly onto the fabric. This method allows for detailed, full-color designs.

Benefits: DTG is excellent for small orders and custom designs, as it doesn’t require screens or setup costs. The prints are soft to the touch and very detailed.

Applications: DTG is suitable for t-shirts, hoodies, and other apparel items, especially for one-off prints and small batches.

Heat Transfer Printing

How it Works: This method uses heat to transfer designs from a special paper onto fabric. The design is first printed onto the paper using ink or toner, then heat and pressure are applied to transfer the design to the fabric.

Benefits: Heat transfer is versatile and can be used on various fabrics. It’s great for producing vibrant, complex designs and small quantities.

Applications: Commonly used for custom t-shirts, caps, and other promotional items.

Besides these, we've also gone ahead and found out some emerging techniques. Read on only if you're a curious cat :P

Digital Textile Printing

Newest Method: Digital textile printing is the latest advancement in fabric printing. It involves printing designs directly onto fabric using large-format inkjet printers.

Benefits: This method offers incredible detail, color accuracy, and the ability to print on demand with minimal waste. It’s ideal for intricate designs and allows for quick changes and customization.

Applications: Used for fashion textiles, home décor, and custom designs.

So just to recap, what we've learned so far are the various methods used for fabrics, and in addition a list of all the usual suspects apart from what we've discussed.

1. Screen Printing

2. Sublimation Printing

3. Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printing

4. Heat Transfer Printing

5. Digital Textile Printing

6. Block Printing

7. Rotary Screen Printing

8. Stencil Printing

Choosing the best printing method depends on the specific needs of your project, such as fabric type, design complexity, and order size. Screen printing and sublimation printing stand out for their durability and vibrant results, while emerging techniques like digital textile printing offer new possibilities for intricate, customizable designs. Understanding these methods will help you select the right approach for your fabric printing needs.

Explore the vibrant, durable designs from Submersible Tees, like the Ytterbium Tee, the Math Lover and the Wildflower Wall Women's tee to see these printing techniques in action.

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