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Personalization is in! We all like to have our personal items decorated with images or meaningful phrases. And t-shirt printing is one of the classic products in the personalization business. When starting in this business, many doubts arise about what technique to use: sublimation, vinyl, transfer paper, direct printing, screen printing? In this post we offer you an initial guide on the different techniques available to personalize t-shirts.
We can create a personalized t-shirt as a special gift to a friend or family member, for a bachelor party, a birthday party, with our favorite music group, or that movie that we love. These are all inspirational themes for t-shirt printing.
Although the great dilemma arises for the professional who begins in the printing of t-shirts when he has to decide which technique is the most appropriate. Sublimation, transfer paper, textile vinyl, direct digital printing? These are all appropriate techniques for customizing t-shirts and before choosing one, we must ask ourselves several questions:
What is our budget?
What equipment do we have?
What is the composition of the fabric?
What color is the shirt?
What durability do we expect from the design?
What kind of design is it? Etc.
For each of these techniques, a lot of information can be detailed, and requires several exclusive posts to thoroughly analyze the possibilities it offers. However, in this table you will find the general information that will help you decide which technique you can use and the approximate budget of the initial investment.
Below you can consult the most important characteristics of each of these techniques:
It requires a very low investment. If you already have a home laser or inkjet printer, you only have to buy a transfer plate and the appropriate transfer paper (choosing between transfer paper for laser or inkjet printer, and for light or dark backgrounds. T-shirts printed with transfer paper have low durability when washed , and they gradually lose color.It has a soft touch, although a foil adhered to the shirt is perceived.
It is a moderate investment. You have to buy an inkjet printer that you will use exclusively for sublimation, and you will equip it with sublimation ink and paper. You also need a transfer iron. It is easy to do, and offers maximum graphic quality and durability when washed. It is the perfect technique for reproducing photographic images. It has a very soft touch, since the inks penetrate the fiber of the fabric. The only limitation is that only white or light colored polyester fabric can be sublimated.
It requires a medium investment. You must purchase a cutting plotter with an optical reader, and a transfer plate, as well as textile vinyl. This technique is suitable for single-color designs and for vector images. There are vinyls of different finishes and textures. Good resistance to washing, and a thin plastic sheet is perceived to the touch.
There are different types of vinyl depending on the type of printer you use: inkjet with ordinary inks, sublimation inkjet or solvent / eco-solvent plotter. You must print the vinyl including crop marks and then use the cutting plotter to cut the design. Then you will apply it to the garment with a transfer iron. It offers good resistance to washing and a thin sheet is perceived on the fabric to the touch.
Direct printing or DTG
It is the ideal solution for printing T-shirts. You print directly onto the shirt and it offers maximum quality and durability. It is the ideal solution for stamping from 1 unit to short runs.
It requires some learning and is suitable for printing from 100 units, that is, medium or large print runs. There is an initial screen preparation cost. A screen must be prepared for each color that the design includes. Maximum durability to washing and soft touch. There are very inexpensive starter packs, and to print in more colors and with greater productivity you can increase the investment by being able to use automatic machines.
You should also know that these techniques are not exclusive and you can combine several: vinyl + sublimation, transfer paper + vinyl, direct printing + screen printing, etc.
If you are just starting out and need more information, you can contact our sales team, who will be able to advise you on the most appropriate technique in each case. If you have been in this world for a long time, write to us and share with us what techniques do you use? What kind of shirts are you customizing?