Digital Printing & Screen Printing – Printing Methods

1800 Office SOlutions Team member - Elie Vigile
1800 Team

Digital vs. Screen Printing

Many companies offer various forms of printing. The two main types that can be done through companies or at home are digital printing and screen printing. It may be difficult to know which one is best for a design on clothing. Many larger companies like Custom Ink will decide for the customer which method is preferable.

The main difference between the two methods is the machines and the result they deliver. Digital printing can be more detailed whereas screen printing is easier to reproduce. Choosing the right method is important for a desirable finished product.

What Is Digital Printing?

Digital printing also known as direct-to-garment (DTG) is taking an image that is on the computer and forming it into a t-shirt. This method puts the design into the fabric and allows it to be interwoven. This method is different than heat transfer printing, which puts the design on top of the t-shirt. Digital printing machines work to interweave the design into the fabric.

Digital Printing Method

The digital printing method has many steps to it but it all starts with a design. This design is uploaded to a computer. An example is a photo or a complex, detailed design.

The Cost of Digital Printing

For smaller to medium size projects, digital printing is a very affordable option through a company. If done at home, digital printers can cost a significant chunk of change. This method allows custom projects to come to life with minimal hassle. Digital printing saves time. Sometimes time is of concern like the saying time is money. Multiple shirts can be printed quickly in a matter of an hour at home.

Digital Printing Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of Digital Printing

  • DTG printing saves time and upfront costs are low. Many companies charge low prices for this method which is feasible for someone who wants only a few shirts printed.
  • Additionally, DTG printing is ideal for detailed projects with many colors at one time. This ensures that an image can be seen on a shirt

Disadvantages of Digital Printing

  • Only certain types of shirts can be printed using the DTG method. For example, fabrics that use less than 50% of cotton can cause problems with clarity and durability using the DTG method.  
  • Also, colors can appear differently from what is seen on a computer screen. This can cause issues in the desired results after using the DTG method. The durability of the DTG method is also lacking after multiple washes.

What is Screen Printing?

Screen press printing transfers ink using a method similar to a stencil. This method uses multiple layers of ink and pigment on top of each other. The goal of screen printing is to transfer an image or design onto an object like a t-shirt much like the goal of digital printing.

Screen Printing Method

The screen printing method is using ink and a stencil-like screen to imprint designs onto a cloth. Screen printing can be done by hand or using a screen printing machine. Large companies have mass production screen printing machines. After the design is on the piece of clothing, it dries either naturally or it is sealed. This method allows for a durable print that can last years on end.

The Cost of Screen Printing

For large projects, screen printing is the most affordable and cost-effective way from start to end. If one or two shirts are being made, screen printing is a large investment. At-home screen printing has lots of equipment. Screen printing is more affordable the fewer colors used in the design. IF the design has multiple colors then this can hike up the price.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Screen Printing

Advantages of Screen Printing

  • The benefits include the quality of the print. Screen printing uses ink that dyes the fabric it is printed on. Multiple types of fabric can be used with screen printing. After several years, more often than not the design will look good as the original.
  • Mass quantities of t-shirts can be produced using screen printing. This is a cost-effective method that allows quality t-shirts to be designed with low cost in mind.

Disadvantages of Screen Printing

  • It is a heavy investment to decide to screen printing. At home, the upfront costs can surmount to a lot of cash. If the project is smaller in size, then the investment is not a smart way to spend money.
  • Screen printing at home is also messy and can take practice overtime to master.


Both digital printing and screen printing offer benefits and drawbacks. It is important to understand which one might be better for various types of projects.

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