The Printing Techniques
Modern printing techniques are many and the factors to be evaluated are closely linked to the individual personalization project, whether it is electronic gadgets, promotional items or technical clothing. Our creative and technical team will guide you in the realization of your idea from the very first design phase to help you choose the ideal printing technique for your purpose.
There are many factors to consider, but the material on which the printing will take place is probably the first discriminating factor. Not all techniques are adaptable to all fabrics, we could use screen printing or direct digital printing for custom cotton t-shirts, while sublimation guarantees an optimal result on synthetic materials.
Another important factor is the quantity of customized objects that you intend to produce, which greatly affects the price of the individual product, as larger runs allow you to better amortize any preparation costs.
Also to consider the number of colors and the complexity of the design, as well as the printing position and the size of the graphics: these are all ingredients to be weighed in order to obtain the perfect mix for a good quality / price ratio.
Screen printing is one of the oldest yet most used printing techniques in the modern world. It is used to reproduce images on virtually any material.
The printing takes place by means of a cliché on which a special mesh fabric is stretched. Simplifying the procedure, we can say that the cliché, also known as a print frame, acts as a frame and the image to be transferred is imprinted on the fabric. In the case of multi-color prints, the step is repeated for each shade.
This technique allows us to print subjects of all sizes and various shapes, on any material. It can be used for printing on any fabric, thanks to its strong resistance to frequent washing, although the best yield is always that of 100% cotton.
Screen printing can be used on plastic, wood, cork, labels or decals, and also on paper and PVC for the decoration of glass, tiles or ceramics.
It is one of the cheapest printing techniques but, since it requires installation costs, we recommend a minimum quantity of 100 pieces to amortize the costs. However, the plants created remain available for any other reprints, which contributes to lowering the unit price.
Direct Digital Printing
Direct digital printing is the best technique for prints that require very high quality, such as complex images and designs, with many shades and minute details. Unlike screen printing, direct digital printing is not subject to installation costs and therefore is more convenient for small-quantity prints.
The printing process uses several heads with different colors which, sliding on the garment to be printed, leave the dye on the fabric or material to be printed. A hot press then fixes the color on the product to be printed.
In addition to the very high quality of the details, this printing technique guarantees a high resistance over time and a very soft result on the fabrics because the colors do not just adhere but penetrate inside, coloring the fibers. It allows to have a remarkable quality on both 100% cotton and mixed cotton, but it can also be used on non-textile materials such as PVC, photographic or adhesive paper, polycarbonate, Plexiglas and wood.
For large quantity orders, direct digital printing is replaced by polychrome printing which lowers costs and improves convenience.
Transfer printing is based on the hot application of specific plastic films on the fabric. It has no installation costs and allows the use of films both in pantone color and “white” films which are first digitally printed and then hot applied.
Transfer printing is one of the most versatile and economical printing techniques, on the other hand it is the least one that is less natural, due to the glossy effect transferred by the adhesive used.
This technique allows you to have one-color or four-color prints with similar costs, and can be used on any fabric, while it is not recommended for non-textile materials on which it is preferable to proceed with sublimation printing.
Transfer printing is ideal for printing solid shapes such as large writings, logos or images. On the other hand, for jagged edges or highly detailed graphics, since it is necessary to simplify the outline of the transfer, the result is a transparent glossy profile that you may not like.
Sublimation printing on objects is the evolution of heat transfer but without support transfer. The color is fixed by heat and pressure from a specific paper to the synthetic fabric. In this way the graphic image pierces the polyester fibers and is indelibly fixed.
It is particularly used in the sportswear sector, flags and pennants, and swimwear precisely because it requires synthetic fabrics, pre-treated with polyester or nylon. In addition to textiles, its use is particularly suitable for all types of personalized gadgets, because it allows for a very captivating decoration thanks to the brilliant rendering of the colors, the solid blacks and the level of detail that can be obtained.
The sublimation inks have a high resistance over time, to rubbing, to sunlight and frequent washing. The printed design does not break or wear over time, because it is tied to the fibers of the fabric. The most frequent use is related to sportswear used in football, cycling and swimming since this technique does not alter the perspiration, elasticity and resistance of the garments.
Sublimation printing allows you to print four-color or solid colors and has no color limitation. As for digital printing, it does not include the cost of fixed installation costs typical of screen printing, guaranteeing a good price even for limited runs.
Embroidery, very popular for the personalization of sweatshirts or polo shirts, is also widely used as a decorative technique for T-shirts. Threads of different colors are used to reproduce logos or images in the desired shape and position. It is optimal for small brands and graphics, especially in the front position on the left side or on the sleeve.
Although it can also be made in large sizes, for example on the back of the shirt, it is not recommended as the garment would be very heavy.
Embroidery has an installation cost that is linked to the setting of the machine. The larger and more complex the embroidery, the higher the initial cost. This technique can be used on any fabric, but the best yield is obtained on fabrics with a fairly high specific weight, usually in cotton.