Digital printing is very different from screen printing though both are available, many times at the same print shop. You may be wondering what the differences are between the two types of printing, especially if you are trying to decide which to use. Let’s look at how each type of printing is done and some of the ways that each are used.
Screen printing is the older of the two printing processes. In this type of printing a stencil, which is called a screen by printers, is created for each color of ink that will be used in the printing process. Each color will be applied using the stencil that has been created for it, one color at a time. In the end the combination of all the printed colors will create the final picture.
Digital printing is a much newer printing process. Your artwork will be processed by a computer, then the image will be sent to the printer. This process does not involve heat transfer of a printed picture; the image is printed straight onto the surface of the object. The ink directly adheres to the surface.
Various types of computer files can be used in digital printing such as a PDF or files created by graphics software. This means that some people will choose to make their own file, then bring it in to the print shop for printing.
Using screen printing can be the best option for designs that require vibrant colors. It is also better than digital printing if printing on a dark surface such as a dark shirt. A thicker layer of ink is applied when screen printing when compared to digital printing. This helps brighter colors show better, even on dark surfaces.
Screen printing is done by hand so it can be the best process to use for uniquely shaped products like bottles or mugs. A person will do a better job of printing onto curved or uneven surfaces. Screen printing is more labor intensive.
When an image is complex and highly detailed digital printing will do a better job. Digital printing can use many more colors and creates a more photographic type of print that can show much more detail than a traditional, screen printed image. The layer of ink that is applied is much thinner which also helps to achieve better detail.
Digital printing will work better on lighter colored objects. This means that you should choose a white or light colored article of clothing to print on as the thin layer of ink will not show well and detail will be lost on dark material.
The digital method works well when a limited number of prints are needed since there are no screens to create. Digital printing also has a quicker turnaround time because it is a more direct process. To quickly print a single item, digital printing is the way to go unless you must print onto a dark color. You will likely find that when your project requires screen printing there will be a minimal number of prints you must pay for or a setup fee.