Differences Between Screen Printing and Digital Printing [Updated]

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Differences Between Screen Printing and Digital Printing [Updated]

Screen Printing and Digital Printing in Grand Rapids, MI

In a general sense, screen printing is best for low detailed, bulk orders, while digital printing is better for orders with higher amounts of concentrated detail. Screen printing is by hand, while a computer handles digital printing. When ordering custom apparel for sports teams or for a company, you want to know what you’re paying for. We recommend consulting a printing service near you to determine the right way to customize your promotional products or sportswear.

General Differences Between Screen and Digital Printing

Every situation will be different, but here are some general differences between screen and digital prints.

Screen Printing

  • Printed by hand
  • Ink is applied thicker
  • Effective for light and dark shirts
  • High vibrancy
  • Effective for specialty products (mugs, golf balls, frisbees)
  • Low level of detail
  • Minimal order required

Digital Printing

  • Printed by computer
  • Ink is applied thinner
  • Effective for light shirts
  • Low vibrancy
  • Not effective for specialty products (mugs, golf balls, frisbees)
  • High level of detail/photographic
  • No minimum order required

Generally, screen printing is better than digital printing. It’s like when something is made by the hands of craftsmen versus a product that was part of a mass-created chain. Screen printing does have its drawbacks when it comes to the level of detail, but it far exceeds digital printing in durability and quality.

Working With Color

When it comes to color, screen printing is usually your best bet.

During the screen printing process, the ink is applied thicker. Dark-colored t-shirts will need to be screen printed so the color can show up properly. Otherwise, the contrast won’t be high enough between the background and the design itself.

Light-colored t-shirts can be customized through digital printing, which uses a thin layer of ink.

With screen printing, you can use a variety of colors, but keep in mind each color added will alter the price of your project.

At SportingU, we can print onto most garments, whether long or short-sleeved. This gives people a lot of creative freedom when it comes to ordering for a team or company.

Can You Screen Print Onto Objects?

Aside from articles of clothing, there are other promotional products that can be printed on such as mugs, towels, chairs, blankets, frisbees, golf balls, and so on.

The shape of the promotional product determines what printing process will be most effective.

For example, if you want to print designs on mugs, you’ll want to look for a promotional product printing company that offers screen printing services. Since screen printing is a manual process, the printer will be able to print on uneven or curved surfaces, which is harder and sometimes impossible to do on a digital printer.

Are You Ordering in Bulk?

Screen printing is a more intensive process than digital printing and generally lasts longer. Because of this, when placing a screen-printed order you’ll have to hit a minimum order requirement that depends on the product.

The labor involved and the time it takes to create the physical setup for your custom design often correlates to its quality and durability.

Since digital printing is run through a computer, you are able to order low quantities because it’s a faster process, but often comes at the cost of product durability.

Do You Have a Design With Lots of Detail?

Look at the design you want. If there is a high level of detail or if you want a photographic print, you’ll get the best outcome with digital printing.

Screen printing works by adding thick layers of paint to the product, while digital prints add thin layers of paint. Think about it like you would think about a string versus a spider web. The string is more durable and will last a lot longer, but the spider web is smaller and you can, therefore, get a more exact line (aka image) out of it.

This is why if you’re printing that majestic photo of a mountain range you took last summer onto a shirt, your best bet is digital printing. Screen printing may last longer, but the layers will be too thick to get a crisp image.

Need Screen Printing Near You?

SportingU is a Grand Rapids customized apparel company dedicated to giving you the best results. If you are interested in our screen printing services, feel free to reach out and contact us online or give us a call at (616) 730-1614. We’ll be happy to help advise and design your product so that it gets printed in the best way possible.


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