Screen printed T-shirts or Dye Sublimation
At Raleigh Shirt Printer we do both kinds of printing and get asked quite frequently, what is the difference between the two types of printing styles. This is kind of an information dump to help you make a decision.
Screen Printed t-shirts:
Screen Printed T-shirts require a different screen for each color. So if you want to do 3 colors on a shirt, you will need 3 different screens. This adds to the cost, especially on smaller orders. Screen printing puts ink on the shirt, so you are able to feel the ink, and it is a nice touch.
You can do screen printing on any substrate. 100% cotton, 50/50 blend, dry wick, athletic. We can screen print all.
Dye Sublimated t-shirts.
Dye Sublimation is a process where ink is put on a transfer paper and heat pressed onto the shirt. The advantage is you can do multiple colors without increasing the cost. Dye sublimation actually transfers the ink to the fibers of the shirt. Dye Sublimation allows you to do full color photographs on your shirt. Dye Sublimation can only be done on white or light colored shirts. There is no white ink in dye sublimation, so if you need white you will be using the white of the t-shirt to show white in your graphic.
Dye Sublimation can only be done on 100% Polyester shirts. The ink will only transfer to polyester.
If you want 100% cotton or a blend, you will have to go with screen printing.
80% of the shirts we do are screen printed. Many customers like the feel of cotton, and like the feel of ink screen printed on the shirt.
Both processes last a long time, and will survive washing.
More often than not, we will consult with our customer on what is the best solution for them. Multi color logos will often go with sublimation, and one color or two color logos are usually best with screen printing.