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Screen printing is a printing technique where a mesh is used to transfer ink onto a substrate, except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil. A blade or squeegee is moved across the screen to fill the open mesh apertures with ink, and a reverse stroke then causes the screen to touch the substrate momentarily along a line of contact. This causes the ink to wet the substrate and be pulled out of the mesh apertures as the screen springs back after the blade has passed. One colour is printed at a time, so several screens can be used to produce a multi-coloured image or design. This is best used for large quantity orders of the same product.
Heat transfer vinyl is a specialty vinyl polymer that can be used on certain fabrics and materials to create designs and promotional products. It comes in a roll or sheet form with an adhesive backing so it can be cut, weeded, and placed on a substrate for heat application. Heat transfer vinyl comes in single colors, full-color pattern options, and in a printable version that can be used for custom full color prints. It should last the lifetime of the product if it is attached to the substrate according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This is best used in smaller quantity orders.
Direct-to-garment printing is a process of printing on textiles using specialized aqueous ink jet technology. DTG printers typically have a platen designed to hold the garment in a fixed position, and the printer inks are jetted or sprayed onto the textile by the print head. This process typically requires that the garment be pre-treated with a Pre-treatment allowing for the following:
- Stronger bond between garment fibers and the pigmented inks
- Lays down loose fibers to provide for a smoother substrate
- Chemically reacts with the inks to promote drying and curing
Since this is a digital process the print is sharper and has a higher resolution than traditional printing methods such as screen printing. This is best used in large quantities that have multiple designs as there is minimal setup for each design.