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Let's take a look into the differences between vinyl and screen printing when making a custom t shirt. Both will give you a quality, long lasting product, and in most cases either option will work just as well as the other.
With the vinyl heat transfer process, a machine is used to cut out designs and letters in pieces of colored vinyl. A heat press is then used to transfer each vinyl color of the design onto the object being printed through a process that uses a combination of heat and pressure.
When a design is produced using the screen printing method, actual screens are used in the process! Essentially, this screen is cut to make a stencil for the design. Ink is then spread over the screen, passing through to the object underneath only in the areas you want it to be. Only one color per screen can be used - so depending on the number of colors in the design, you’ll need multiple screens to produce the final item.
VINYL: Vinyl is usually used for very small runs (anything from 1 to 15 shirts on average); this is because the set up time is much quicker than that of screen printing.
SCREEN PRINTING: Our minimum order quantity for screen printing is 25 shirts, as it takes much longer to setup than vinyl. Once the setup is finished, usually nothing will need to change from shirt to shirt making it much quicker to print larger orders.
VINYL: Simple graphics work best with vinyl, text, or basic shapes. A good would be numbers for your soccer team’s jerseys? Vinyl is great. A photograph of Larry's graduation and vinyl just won’t work. There isn’t a way for us to create gradients (blending of colors) and any fine details would get lost with vinyl.
SCREEN PRINTING: Screen printing allows for a much higher level of detail, printing photography is possible as intricate design features will come through with screen prints. You also have access to a larger range of colors.
Both vinyl heat transfers and screen printed ink should last years under normal use.
VINYL: Vinyl heat transfers applied to t-shrits should last years under normal use.
SCREEN PRINTING: Screen printed graphics should last the life of the shirt under normal use.