Screen Printing, Custom Heat Transfers, or Embroidery: Which do I choose?

If you are planning to have promotional garments made, you might wonder which type of imprinting will work best for your needs. Screen printing, custom heat transfers, and embroidery are three options. Take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Pros and Cons of Screen Printing

The screen printing method is well known and is incredibly popular for promotional apparel. For example, nearly every tourist attraction sells screen printed products for souvenirs. Everyone has at least a few t-shirts in their closet that have screen printed designs. It is almost a requirement for college students. This technique is also used on many other products.

The screen printing method is also known as silk screening. It requires creating mesh screens for different parts of the design, through which one color of ink can be pushed onto the fabric. This means only one color can be applied at a time. Each additional color requires another screen. There are novelty inks available such as metallic and some that glow-in-the-dark.

One of the benefits of screen printing is that the process allows for layering of colors and shading. Designs can also be fairly detailed. One challenge is that the costs increase with each additional color added. This can be offset with clever design to match your budget. Another challenge is that the design can be harder to care for as it can be sensitive to heat.

Pros and Cons of Custom Heat Transfers

Typically, custom heat transfers involve the printing of a design onto special paper that, when heated, transfers the design onto fabric. This process allows for the printing of full color and detailed images onto any material. The resulting design is flat and feels more integrated into the fabric than screen printing. This allows people to further enhance the design with additional features such as custom rhinestones, for a bejeweled look with some extra bling.

One of the advantages of the custom heat transfer technique is you can create almost any design. However, the designs will not show on dark fabrics. This approach can be cost-effective for small orders. Unfortunately, larger orders can be more expensive, because the process is more time-consuming. Another drawback is that the design may fade through washing.

Pros and Cons of Embroidery

When you are looking for promotional branding on clothing or other fabrics that seems higher-end, then embroidery is a good choice. This is often the top choice for company uniforms. You can probably easily envision embroidery on polos, worn by workers in many businesses. It is also a top choice for corporations that offer promotional attire to their employees and customers.

Embroidery uses thread to stitch designs. It can be done by hand or on a machine. Today’s technology allows most designs to be digitized so that a machine can quickly reproduce it. It can be done on many different fabrics for apparel or other items (such as blankets, bags, luggage).

The major downside of embroidery may be the price. This technique tends to be pricier because you are paying for the better materials (embroidery thread in various colors) and the time it takes to replicate the design on your products. Embroidery may not be able to reproduce all aspects of design (such as shading or small text), but you can typically adapt the design.

Your choice for which imprinting technique to use will depend on your needs and what you want the final design to look like, along with other considerations such as longevity and budget. You can weigh out the pros and cons to decide what is best. When you work with a professional promotional apparel printing company like BYOG in the San Francisco Bay Area, they can help advise you as to the best option to fit your needs and specifications. Contact us today or start designing now.


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