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How to Choose the Right Printing Method for Your T-Shirt?

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In the past, people liked monochrome clothes, because wearing this kind of clothes would make people feel that you were a mature and reliable person. But in recent years, people tend to wear T-shirts with various patterns on them, because this kind of clothes highlights their personality. Therefore, how to choose a suitable printing method has become an issue in clothing business. This article will guide you through the process of choosing the right printing method for your T-shirt.

Choosing the Right Printing Method Matters

Printing methods influence the quality, durability and the appearance of the T-shirt. That’s why choosing the right printing method matters. Let’s talk about the quality first. We should use different printing method because of different clothing materials. Some materials do not react well to certain printing methods, so we must choose the right printing method to ensure the quality of the T-shirt. Besides, printing method also has something to do with the durability of clothes, for it directly relates to the life length and the appearance of the T-shirt. Some clothes might be ruined and the colors on them might be fade after being washed for several times, while other clothes remain its original look for a long time. So, we should choose the right printing method to make sure that the T-shirt can be worn for a long time. What’s more, printing method contributes to the overall look of the T-shirt. Choosing the right printing method too print different patterns on the T-shirt can produce different effects, which will make the clothing look layered and heavy, and will not make the clothing look monotonous and rigid. So, choosing the right printing method will have a great impact on the overall look of the T-shirt.

Introduction of Different T-Shirt Printing Methods

There are different T-shirt printing methods. Every one of them has its pros and cons. Below are the introductions of four most widely used T-shirt printing methods.

1. Silk-screen Printing

Silk screen printing

Silk-screen printing refers to the use of a screen as a plate base, and through the photopolymerization method, a printing plate with graphics is made. Screen printing consists of five main elements, screen printing plate, squeegee, ink, printing table and substrate. Screen printing utilizes the basic principle that the graphic portion of the printing plate is permeable to ink and the non-graphic portion of the printing plate is not permeable to ink. People pour ink into one end of the printing plate poured and use the squeegee to add pressure on the printing plate, and move the squeegee towards the other end of the printing plate at a constant speed. The ink will be squeezed to the clothes during that process. In China, silk screen printing has a history of more than 2,000 years. This printing method existed as early as the Qin and Han Dynasties.

2. DTG Printing

Dtg printing

DTG Printing is a new type of printing method. It mainly uses the micro piezoelectric print head of the inkjet printer to spray textile-specific ink on the surface of the fabric. Then the ink permeates into the fiber and the printing process is finished. DTG printing technology is as convenient as a printer, you can print the patterns you want from the computer to the clothes at any time you like.

3. Heat Transfer Printing

Heat transfer printing

Heat transfer printing is an emerging printing method, which was imported from abroad no more than 10 years ago. Heat transfer printing is that people put the dye (or ink) into a machine and print the patterns to a specific paper. Then, with high temperature and pressure, the pattern on the paper can be transferred to the fabric. And we complete the entire heat transfer printing process.

4. Hand Drawn Printing

Hand drawn printing

Hand drawn printing is the kind of printing methods relying on the designers’ abilities and experiences. It means designers use pens to draw pictures on the T-shirts. Then, they use dyes to color the pictures. The most widely used dyes are textile dyes and acrylic dyes.

5. Computer Embroidery

Computer embroidery

Computer embroidery refers to the digitizing process, which is used as a pattern guide or to further let the embroidery machine and the embroidery frame to complete the motions in the design process. This technology originated from the way the paper tape was punched to record the stitches on the mechanical embroidery machine. Computer embroidery is able to recognize the corresponding instructions and execute and complete the corresponding actions according to the instructions.

Pros and Cons of Different Printing Methods

Printing MethodsProsCons
Silk-screen PrintingPatterns on the T-shirts are clear. The printing area is large and price is acceptable.The process is complicated. There are several steps including design, solarization, printing and drying.
DTG PrintingThe colors are close to the original. The patterns printed do not detract in any way from the softness and comfort of the fabric itself. Besides, the process of DTG printing is very simple.Ink costs a lot and this method is only suitable for fabrics with high cotton content.
Heat Transfer PrintingThe patterns on the clothes look real. Besides, it is quick and easy to print patterns to clothes.The light color patterns are not clear enough. When you touch the place where the patterns are printed, you will not feel comfortable. So, most of the T-shirts using heat transfer printing are disposable cultural shirts used for group activities.
Hand Drawn PrintingThe color combinations are richer and the pattern layouts are more flexible.The experience and skill of the person who draws the T-shirt has a very strong influence on the whole process of printing. If something goes wrong, it is not easy to change it, so the cost of hand drawn printing is very high.
Computer EmbroideryIt can get the work done more efficiently. Besides, compared with  handmade embroidery, the price is much lower.The quality is easily affected by equipment and machines. And computerized embroidery only works on a limited embroidery area.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Printing Method

There are some factors you need to consider when choosing a printing method, such as design complexity, color range, production volume, budget, etc. For example, some patterns are to complicated that you cannot use hand drawn printing to produce your T-shirts. Besides, if you want light colors on your T-shirt, heat transfer printing is definitely not your choice. What’s more, if you need to produce as many T-shirts as possible in a short time, DTG printing can be efficient enough to do that. Last but not least, you have to consider your budgets. If you have a limited budget, you should not choose the costly printing method like DTG printing.

Steps for Choosing the Right Printing Method

In order to guide you through the process of choosing the right printing method for your T-shirt, here are the five steps you should follow.

Step 1: Understand Your Design

The first thing to do is understanding your design. You have to be clear what message you want to deliver through your T-shirt, what colors you want to use and what patterns you want to put on your T-shirt. Understanding your design will help you make your decisions easier.

Step 2: Consider Your Budget

The next thing to do is considering your budget. This is a really important thing to do. As we all know, every businessman wants profits. You need to know how much money you want to put into this business and choose the most suitable printing method accordingly.

Step 3: Evaluate Your Production Volume

Now, you need to evaluate your production volume. Do you want to start a mass-production of T-shirts? Or, you just want to build a small-scale production line. These are the questions you need to consider before making your decision, since some of the printing methods cannot be used in large-scale productions. So, evaluating your production volume can help you a lot while choosing the printing method that suits you the most.

Step 4: Test Different Methods

Before making your final decision, you need to test different methods to see which one suits you the most. Here are a few tips for getting the best results with each printing method.

Visual inspection

You should inspect your T-shirts visually once you receive your samples. You need to carefully observe the details of the printed surface, including whether the pattern is clear, whether there is any leakage of printing, and whether the printing position is accurate. Compare the products of each printing method and choose the one that satisfies you the most.

Chemical resistance testing

You can drip different chemicals on the patterns to see whether their colors will fade or not. Your clothes will definitely be exposed to chemicals like laundry detergent and clothing disinfectant in the future. This testing will help you realize which method you should use if you don’t want your T-shirts ruined by chemicals.

Abrasion resistance testing

In abrasion resistance testing, you can use a friction tester to simulate the friction of the product over a long period of time. You get to see whether the patterns on the T-shirts are clear enough or not after friction. Put samples using different printing methods together and make comparisons, you will be able to see which method is the best.

Step 5: Make Your Decision

After all the steps above, you can finally make your own decision. But remember, do not make your decisions impulsively. Take your time to think about which printing method you want to use. Besides, you can always seek suggestions from friends or experts in the relating fields. I believe you can make the best decision.


In conclusion, choosing the right printing method for t-shirts is a very complex task. You need to understand the different printing methods and know their advantages and disadvantages. In addition, you have to consider several factors. But I believe that if you follow the five steps mentioned in this article, you will be able to choose the right printing method for your t-shirts. If you have more questions about printing methods or need to find a manufacturer for your apparel business, please feel free to contact us. As a garment manufacturer with 15 years of experience, we are confident that we can solve all your questions.


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