Merchful

What are the printing methods available on Merchful?

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We have a variety of printing methods available in order to provide maximum flexibility and variety in our services. Direct-to-garment or ‘DTG’ printing is the most widely used print method when it comes to print on demand for various reasons and most print-on-demand companies offer this as the primary and often the only printing method. In addition to Embroidery, we also offer other printing methods such as Heat Transfer, Print&Cut and Screen Printing. These printing methods are sometimes the optimum choice for a brand or for specific types of designs. This is determined by the pros and cons of each method and also by preference of the store owner/seller.

Your choice of printing method should be based on factors such as the type of design in terms of detail, number of colors and the desired outcome, whether soft, bold, vintage etc. Our experts are ready to help decide on printing methods for you if you need our support. Many clients simply send us the designs and ask us to choose the optimum method based on our knowledge and experience so we can do that for you too if you prefer!

Let’s take a look at the wide-ranging techniques we offer.

1- Heat Transfer / Flex Printing

Heat-transfer and Vinyl or Flex Transfer printing is the process of using heat to transfer an image from a sheet of paper or to transfer vinyl to the product. It works effectively by applying pre-prepared designs to a variety of materials including garments and textiles. We recommend using this method when doing colorful designs on white garments such as baby onesies or bibs, and on all garments when the design is just text or 1-2 spot colors.

ProsCons
  • Flex printing is ideal for less detailed 1-2 spot color designs
  • It works well on almost all fabrics such as polyester, poly cotton blends, tri-blends and cotton
  • Since it is vinyl and not printed color, the colors are prominent and bold and don’t fade after wash with high durability
  • Ideal for text or typographic designs that don’t have too much detail
  • Ability to place design on almost any part of the t-shirt
  • Limited design capability as it doesn’t support multi-color designs, photos or very small details
  • Gradient and fade effects are not achievable
  • Prints can often feel like a sticker causing larger or more ‘filled’ designs to feel slightly heavy on the product
  • Ironing over prints or rough handling can cause vinyl to start to peel over-time

2- Print & Cut

This method is also a form of heat transfer. Often also referred to as cad-cut or printable vinyl, it prints the graphic on vinyl media and the machine also cuts the design and all the details to give a clean finish. The design is then heat-pressed onto the garment.

ProsCons
-Higher durability than Heat
-transfer printing on paper
-Possible to achieve multicolored designs without having to layer vinyl
-Greater quality than Heat Transfer Printing
-Higher initial investment
-Not ideal for mass printing
-Not ideal for complex designs

3- Direct To Garment (DTG)

Direct to Garment is increasingly becoming a viable solution in the printing industry compared to the other traditional printing methods. As the name suggests, Direct to Garment is the process of using ink to directly print onto the fabric or the item. This means that upon touching the design, it gives a smooth touch of the item as the design is absorbed into the fabric or material.

ProsCons
-Color flexibility
-Can be used for detailed designs
-Quick printing process
-Ideal for both mass productions and small-scale productions
-High quality results
-Sustainable process of printing
-Limited choice of fabric only cotton
-Limited design placement

4- Sublimation

In simple words, Sublimation is the printing process of directly transferring the design ink onto the material or fabric using heat. The design is first printed on a special paper which is then processed under heat to turn the inks on the paper into gas to allow for the next step of the sublimation process i.e. the conversion of the ink onto the fabric. The ink is then blended with the fabric to achieve a permanent print.

ProsCons
-Seam to seam designs
-Permanent printing
-Less prone to fading
-No cracking, peeling or washing away
-Limited use of materials
-only 100% polyester or polyester blend
-White creasing

5- Screen Printing

Screen printing is a printing method which uses a squeegee to press ink onto the fabric through a stencil on a meshed screen. Separate mesh screens are used for each color of the design. The garment is then run through a tunnel dryer to set the print.

ProsCons
-High quality, vibrant colors
-Very cost effective for bulk orders
-Longevity of designs
-Not ideal for photo-realistic images
-Not ideal for small batch orders
-Time taking as for each color a new mesh screen is required to set up

6- Embroidery

Embroidery is where the design is sewn and recreated by stitching threads directly onto the garment. The stitching process is completely automated after the design is digitized.

ProsCons
-High Durability
-Less prone to fading – color sharpness of the threads
-Multiple colors with no added cost, unlike screen printing
-High quality look and feel
-More expensive than any other form of printing
-Only suitable for small intricate artwork
Previous A guide to different t-shirt materials
Next How do I choose the right printing method for my designs?
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