Heat Transfer & Screen Printing –Printing Methods

1800 Office SOlutions Team member - Elie Vigile
1800 Team

Heat Transfer vs. Screen Printing on Clothing

There are multiple factors that make a good screen print. A screenprint can be tricky to master but the finished product is worth it. For example, it is necessary to have multiple different “screens” for different colors while screen printing.

Heat press printing is a different process than screen printing. Heat press printing requires heat transfer paper and a heat transfer machine. These machines use pressure and heat to transfer the image. Often images are printed onto common items like t-shirts.

What Is Heat Press Printing?

Heat printing uses a heat source to transfer an image or design onto a cloth. Many companies and businesses use heat press printing for a fast and effective way to print images onto clothing.

Types of Heat Press Printing

There are two main methods of heat press printing. The first type is digital print heat transfer and the second is vinyl heat transfer. These two methods have specific processes. They both transfer images onto a cloth, like a t-shirt printing.

Digital Print Heat Transfer

The method of a digital print heat transfer is in the title of its name. The main focus is to print the design to place it on an object. Digital printing allows for an image or design to be directly printed onto heat transfer paper.

The print of the heat transfer paper can then be directly put onto an object. Many t-shirts are made using this digital print heat transfer method. If a design is on a computer, then this is a convenient way to transfer a design onto an object.

Vinyl Heat Transfer

The other type of heat press printing is vinyl heat transfer. This method features some sort of heat sources like an iron or heat press.

The vinyl is cut into the preferred shape and design. This design can be cut out by hand or using a machine. Then, heat is applied by iron or a heat press.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Heat Press Printing


The process of heat press printing is easy to do at home to personalize t-shirts and clothing. It is relatively not messy like ink. Many colors can be used in a single print.


Overall, heat press printing can be more expensive to use if there are multiples of the same shirt. Problems with wear and tear can occur after multiple uses and washes. Letters and designs may fall off or peel after use since the design is not an ink that’s dyed in the fabric.

What is Screen Printing?

Screen printing is also known as silk screening. Using multiple layers of ink and pigment on top of each other, screen press printing transfers ink using a method similar to a stencil. Just like heat press printing, the goal of screen printing is to transfer an image or design onto an object like a t-shirt.

Types of Screen Printing

There are many different methods of screen printing. Different methods often use various types of ink to achieve several looks.

Plastisol Ink

This type of ink is very common in screen printing. It is lighter and softer than other screen printing inks. Plastisol is the ink that is used to create the design on the shirt or cloth that we see. The ink is pressed firmly into the cloth.

This type of ink used can lack in durability. After multiple usages, there can be noticeable wear and tear of the ink design on the cloth.

Soft Hand Screen Printing

This type of screen printing is more delicate and higher quality than using plastisol ink. It gives off a look of well-worn but good quality ink design. Soft hand screen printing uses 2 types of ink.

Water-based ink

This type of ink is of higher quality compared to plastisol ink. This ink can last longer since it is more water-soluble. After a few cycles in the washer and dryer, it tends to hold up much better than plastisol ink. Water-based inks are made up of pigment in a water solvent.

Discharge Ink

This type of ink is used to do what’s called “discharge printing”. Discharge printing removes the color of the original fabric. For example, a blue t-shirt would have its blue ink removed and the red discharge ink would replace the blue. Discharge ink completely gets rid of the original pigment. This can be very difficult and unpredictable to work with.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Screen Printing

Advantages of Screen Printing

Screen printing is a durable and long-lasting solution to print designs onto clothing. The ink soaks into the cloth and works well with cotton.

Disadvantages of Screen Printing

It takes a significant amount of time to print each color onto a shirt. If a complicated, multicolor design is used it will take longer to switch between colors. Additionally, screen printing is messy and has extensive cleanup.


Both heat transfer and screen printing are effective ways to make t-shirts. The methods can help decide which one is better for unique t-shirt projects.

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