Different Types Of T-shirt Printing Methods: With Details

Angie Renner
Published by
Last updated: August 21, 2022

Putting a couple of designs on a T-shirt goes a long way in spicing up a plain, ordinary T-shirt. Cute, adorable, and unique t-shirt designs make these garments more fashionable than ever before.

In case you’re wondering what T-Shirt printing method you can use to start producing your own line of eye-grabbing shirts today, we’ve something in store for you.

Below, you’ll discover all the t-shirt printing methods available today. For each of the techniques below, we’ll discuss their unique benefits as well as drawbacks.

After reading this post, you’ll have a bright idea which t-shirt printing method to start using.

Types Of T-Shirt Printing Methods Explained:

1. Screen Printing with a Professional T Shirt Printing Machine:

F2C 5 in 1 Pro Heat Press Machine 12x15 Digital Heat Transfer Sublimation Swing-Away for Hat Mug Plate Cap T-Shirt 360-degree Rotation Multifunction Combo Kit Black 110V
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F2C 5 in 1 Pro Heat Press Machine 12x15 Digital Heat Transfer Sublimation Swing-Away for Hat Mug Plate Cap T-Shirt 360-degree Rotation Multifunction Combo Kit Black 110V
  • Non-stick surface preventing scorching of transfers, and does not require a separate silicone/teflon sheet. Detached upgraded aluminium alloy cradle for use of the mugs, plates, hats & pads elements
  • Large 12" x 15" Heating Press, provides a big surface to create your own custom T-shirt etc; It can transfer colorful pictures and characters of sublimating and dissolved printing ink onto glasses and textiles such as cotton, flax, chemical fiber, nylon, etc
  • Full 360-degree rotation and professional swing-away design. Digital control ensures the high precision and sensitivity, built-in fuse for safe using.Note: If the heating plate is not flat, pls check first if the machine is placed on a flat workstation and make sure to add enough pressure by adjusting the pressure knob to secure the plate from shaking
  • This 5 in 1 multifunction heat press machine comes with hat, mug, plate attachments for make your custom mugs, pads or hats besides just T-shirts; Full-range pressure-adjustment knob allows the pressure to be adjusted according to the thickness of the material you're transferring to
  • The attachment that inside the mug press is not included in the package.(Only refer to the first main image of this listing) There is only one mug attachment included in the package not two!Two teflon sheets included. Pls be clear of that before placing your order, thanks

This is one of the most preferred t-shirts printing methods using a professional t shirt printing machine. If you’ve got a t-shirt that features a printed graphic and has remained vibrant, soft, and smooth for long, there are high chances that it was screen printed.

Meaning that you can count in screen printing for all your t-shirt printing needs. However, it’s not the best option for everything.

The technique requires you to create a stencil (or template), which is then held in place by the screen. The screen is usually made from nylon mesh.

Now, you need to flood some ink onto the screen, and then use a squeegee to press down and ensure that the ink spreads all over your screen.

Excess ink will be wiped away. And the screen is finally taken off with the design you’re printing- it’s cured, dried and that’s it!

Screen printing is a great option if you’re working on a large project. However, don’t count on it as a viable option if you are working on one-offs or smaller quantities.

For instance, if you want to print hen or stag T-shirts, screen printing would require that you create a new screen for each t-shirt plus it will take a lot of time. In other terms, it wouldn’t be cost effective.

Pros

  • Gives you supreme quality
  • Much faster when working on multiple items with a single design
  • Can print in multiple colors
  • Great alternative for the mass production
  • Soft finish

Cons

  • Not a viable option for small quantities
  • Bigger learning curve, unlike transfer method (explained later in this post)
  • Printing one-off is time-consuming and expensive with this method
  • Can be messy if done manually
  • A bit pricey

2. Direct To Garment (DTG) Technique:

Next on the line, we have Direct to Garment t-shirt printing method. Abbreviated as DTG, this is a relatively new technique in t-shirt printing industry.

It involves printing onto your garment directly- the T-shirt. If you don’t have a clue how that works, imagine a large flatbed printer where your t-shirt is fed on its conveyer belt, and it gets printed on.

For a complete DTG setup, you’ll require a DTG printer. Because this printer is quite expensive, this is not a good at home option. But if you’re planning to print a lot (and I mean a lot) of t-shirts, and want to do one-offs faster, DTG is the way to go!

The quality of DTG end products is excellent (but not as good as that of screen printing). You’ll obtain a soft print, which you can do in multiple colors. It works best on white garments.

It can also work on a darker t-shirt, but the process is pretty challenging and will require some learning curve.

Pros

  • Offers you full-color printing
  • Supports one-off designs
  • Low cost per item printing
  • Soft, professional finish

Cons

  • A bit slower for mass productions compared to screen printing
  • Consumes a lot of space
  • High initial cost

3. Sublimation Printing:

Sale
RoyalPress Heat Press 12' x 15' Color LED 360-degree Rotation 30OZ Mug Professional Sublimation Heat Transfer Multifunction Combo Heat Press Machine Mug/Plate/T-Shirt Black (12'x15' 3 in 1)
830 Community
RoyalPress Heat Press 12" x 15" Color LED 360-degree Rotation 30OZ Mug Professional Sublimation Heat Transfer Multifunction Combo Heat Press Machine Mug/Plate/T-Shirt Black (12"x15" 3 in 1)
  • Brand New Press-casting aluminum heating plate wrapped with teflon cloth,harmless to the cloth; Large 12" x 15" Heat Press; Provides a big surface to create your own custom T-shirt; Special thickened heating plate make the printing more even and better;
  • Color LED Intelligent Memory Digital temperature,time and counter triple function controller, Provides extra function of calculating production;
  • Full 360-degree rotation of swing-away design, safe and convenient to display the T-shirt on the heat press;
  • Temperature range:0-480F Fahrenheit degree(0-250 Centigrade),Time Range:0-999 second, Counter Range:0-999pcs; Voltage:110v, Power:1000W; With US-standard grounded plug;
  • This digital heat press also can be used for Tshirts, pillow, bags, mouse mat etc.Warm note: T-shirts, cups and dishes are NOT included in the package.Thanks.

Have you ever come across a t-shirt with an all over print on it?

-If yes, that could be sublimation printing. Sublimation works best when used for all over and oversize printing. It’s capable of transforming the whole t-shirt into a great piece of art.

With sublimation dye process, you can do a galaxy print, repeat pattern. But you’ll need special shirts- made from 100% polyester.

Pros

  • Produces highly unique, all-over designs
  • Unlimited use of graphics, styles, and colors

Cons

  • Shirts to be printed on should be made from 100% polyester only
  • White patches/parts on your t-shirt not covered (e.g. underarms) will show through your design
  • To make it financially viable all over print option, you need to work on a minimum of 50plus garments

4. CAD Cut Vinyl Printing:

Sale
Cricut Joy Machine - A Compact, Portable DIY Smart Machine for Creating Customized Labels, Cards & Crafts, Works with Iron-on, Vinyl, Paper & Smart Materials, Bluetooth-Enabled (iOS/Android/Windows)
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Cricut Joy Machine - A Compact, Portable DIY Smart Machine for Creating Customized Labels, Cards & Crafts, Works with Iron-on, Vinyl, Paper & Smart Materials, Bluetooth-Enabled (iOS/Android/Windows)
  • A COMPACT CUTTING MACHINE FOR INSPIRATIONAL CRAFTERS - It's time to turn your innovative ideas into action with the Cricut Joy cutting machine. This cute, portable smart cutter lets you personalize, organize & customize crafts on-the-go
  • CUTS 50+ MATERIALS WITH EASE - The included Blade lets crafters make precise, intricate cuts from a variety of popular materials like cardstock, vinyl decal, iron-on and more using StandardGrip Mat. Also makes super-long cuts with matless Smart Material
  • EASY TO SETUP & USE - Designed for those who are always bustling with creative energy, this 3.9 lbs machine is easy to set up and use. It draws any shape and writes in any style, letting your bright ideas turn into reality in just 15 minutes
  • FITS IN A CUBBY, PACKS AWAY EASILY - Whether creating vinyl stickers, labels for office, kitchen or home, or giving a customizing birthday cards or banners, this little cutting & writing machine makes everything possible, anywhere and everywhere
  • APP-BASED CRAFTING TOOL WITH WIRELESS-BLUETOOTH CONNECTIVITY - With just a few clicks, create personalized and custom designs using the cloud-based Design Space app that works on mobile phones and laptops (iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac)

Vinyl printing employs a unique, soft clothing that is professionally cut using CAD cutter and other special software. Then you print this material onto your t-shirt using heat press method.

The method allows you to print one-off designs and even longer runs, making it a great alternative for printing multiple garment types. Furthermore, it lets you layer vinyl, which makes it possible for you to print in different colors (and create vibrant designs).

Vinyl works well for the slogan, small graphics, and words. But it’s not suitable for large printed areas as your t-shirt may lose its flexibility.

Pros

  • Ideal for longer, medium and shorter runs of prints
  • Produces vibrant which can last the life of your t-shirt
  • No fading/cracking of the print
  • Space-efficient

Cons

  • Vinyl is less flexible than screen printing inks
  • You’ll need to learn about the software and hardware before using this machine
  • You’ll need special CAD cutters, heat press, and software

5. Transfer Paper Method:

Jh-Best Crafts12' X 10' Feet Roll Transfer Paper w/Grid- Perfect Alignment of Cameo or Cricut Self Adhesive Vinyl for Decals, Signs, Walls, Windows and Other Smooth Surfaces
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Jh-Best Crafts12" X 10' Feet Roll Transfer Paper w/Grid- Perfect Alignment of Cameo or Cricut Self Adhesive Vinyl for Decals, Signs, Walls, Windows and Other Smooth Surfaces
  • GREAT SAVINGS: Get excellent savings from our transfer tape with an added 4 more bonus feet than the popular brand with 12" x 10 Feet long roll at a great price, it goes a long way to complete your project and much more
  • VERSATILE: Our Best Crafts transfer paper tape was designed to work with a wide variety of Adhesive vinyl (both Indoor and Outdoor) It can work with Cameo, Silhouette, Provo Craft, Cricut Vinyl, Pazzles, oracal transfer tape and much more. Easy transfer to smooth surfaces like sign stickers, windows, walls, ceramics, glass, etc
  • EASY TO USE: Our BestCrafts transfer tapes comes with RED-GRID square backing for your perfect alignment during your project making it much EASIER AND TIME SAVING when transfering your project
  • 100% GUARANTEED: We encourage you to start using our transfer tape for your projects for best result guaranteed or your money back.

The idea behind this technique is transferring the image from one surface to the other, permanently. The design is printed on a transfer paper and using the best heat press machine it get transferred to clothes. The method was originally used to add decorative details to ceramics.

Today, it enjoys a wide usage in the t-shirt printing business as well as other garments. Unlike all the other methods we’ve discussed above, this technique employs heat and pressure to set the image on your t-shirt.

Pros

  • Fairly straightforward to use
  • Produces high-quality, sophisticated designs
  • Supports full-color printing

Cons

  • A bit slower than the other methods
  • Works best on light colored t-shirts
  • Can’t be used on fabrics with high heat-sensitivity levels

Final Thoughts:

From what you’ve just learned above, there are many ways of printing your t-shirt. And each method comes with its list of unique benefits and disadvantages.

Whatever your T-Shirt printing needs are, you’ll find a method that suits you from the techniques above- whether you’re looking for a cheap transfer at your home or a more professional setup.