Which print does what?

Updated: Oct 31, 2019

There are four types of print that are commonly used when it comes to customising clothing.


Now... this may be confusing for those of you who are new to the bespoke world, but fear not it's actually quite simple!


These four different printing methods are:

Digital Printing, Vinyl Printing, Sublimation Printing and Screen Printing.


Digital Printing:

Digital printing is what it sounds like, a digital design being sent to a printer.

It allows you to have any colour within an image and even match Pantone's, it will apply all of the inks that are in the digital artwork, onto a white vinyl. Once it has produced the file you had sent to it, it will cut it out. This means the print is ready to have the excess white vinyl removed so all you have left are the various designs you had sent to it.

Simply place the print onto some transfer and put it on the heat press!


Technology in digital print continually improves and develops. Likewise, Badge Design are constantly keeping up with new advances. Our latest piece of state-of-the-art equipment is really quite revolutionary as we now can quickly print a complex multi-coloured artwork and then heat press it directly to the garment or accessory, without having to "weed" the design.



Vinyl Printing:


Vinyl Printing is limited to one colour unlike the digital printer. The reason for this is the fact that the printer itself has to be manually loaded with a roll of vinyl, and that roll of vinyl is always just one colour. So instead of the printers software reading the digital file and printing with ink, a vinyl printer simply just uses a knife. When dealing with the design it always needs to be flipped horizontally otherwise the print will come out backwards!

Any design printed with vinyl will have to be 'weeded' once done because the knife has cut an outline of the design. This means there's a lot of excess vinyl to get rid of before you can see the design.

Once weeded it's ready for the heat press!


With Vinyl you do have a limited colour variety, but the cost will increase for each colour used. Vinyl is more cost effective for single colour large prints e.g. shirt numbers on the back of sports tops.



Sublimation Printing:

Sublimation Printing is similar to Digital printing, in that it is literally a printer. But the way it differs is because the print is coming out on specialist sublimation paper and not vinyl. The sublimation paper and the inks in the printer are very special because it is fabric dye, not a piece of vinyl put on top of fabric. The fabric must contain at least 50% polyester for the fabric to accept the print dye, it works best when applied to white polyester, though other pale/light colours can take sublimation prints.

Just place the printed sheet of sublimation paper face down on the fabric and it's ready to press with extreme heat (200 degrees).


Again, there aren't the economies of scale that you can get with screen printing, but for small volumes and diversity, this is a fantastic print offering, which we are delighted to offer. As the printed images are dyed into the product the prints are permanent and will not fade, crack, peel etc.


Screen Printing:


Screen printing is one of the oldest versions of printing in this selection of four. It's traditionally done using a mesh screen with a negative version of the print blocked out. This means the paint that is spread over the top of this screen only goes through certain areas to create the final artwork. You can have one colour or up to 10, its just a matter of lining the screen up correctly after each colour, for the new colour. There is no heat involved in this printing method.


There are many advantages & disadvantages to screen printing, if you're interested check that out on our blog!



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