Heat Transfer Vinyl vs. Screen Printing

screen printing machine

Heat Transfer Vinyl vs. Screen Printing

The secret ingredient to every T-shirt printing business is the method they use to apply their innovative designs. These vary widely from one another and each one is ideal for certain purposes.

Two such printing technologies are heat transfer vinyl and screen printing. To learn more about heat transfer vinyl vs. screen printing and their principal distinctions, read our quick and easy guide.

Heat Transfer Vinyl

First, heat transfer vinyl (HTV) primarily relies on pressure and, unsurprisingly, heat. After securing a sheet of vinyl you want to apply, you cut it to reflect the design you want. Practically speaking, you can cut anything you want at this point. After cutting and weeding unnecessary pieces of vinyl, you affix your cut pattern onto an adhesive-equipped transfer sheet. Then you can place this transfer sheet onto your T-shirt and run it through your heat press. You can press more than one transfer sheet at once for more complex designs, just avoid overlapping the vinyl sections.

Advantages of HTV

The pros of fabric heat transfer vinyl include its highly customizable nature and readiness for small batches. Because you cut and weed each piece of vinyl, you can make any adjustments you want during the process. You don’t need to follow a rigid template.

This makes HTV perfect for the family of four looking for custom shirts for everyone and doesn’t run up your costs as you prepare these small orders. For the vast majority of hobbyists and most T-shirt shop owners, HTV is the way to go.

Screen Printing

Meanwhile, screen printing utilizes ink and screen stencils. You create a dedicated stencil for each color, applying layers one at a time to the shirt. These stencils allow ink only through the area where you overlay a pattern, blocking it everywhere else. Preparing these stencils takes time, and they are usable only for one T-shirt style, unless of course you adapt past stencils for future designs.

Advantages to Screen Printing

While screen printing requires upfront work creating stencils, it may be worth it if you have large runs of 500 or more shirts. While HTV affords you complete control, it does require more hands-on labor than screen printing does for these larger projects.

For more on heat transfer vinyl vs. screen printing, get in touch with our PrimePick USA team.

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