Sublimation Vs Screen Printing: When it comes to printing designs on shirts of any kind, sublimation, and screen printing are the two methods that emerge as the most used and convenient. Although they both are used for printing designs on fabrics, their processes are completely different.
Now, when a person is in the phase of deciding the method for the design printing. They often choose the sublimation printing method because it is a cheaper and faster method to imprint designs on shirts. The only drawback of screen printing is that it is a long and more expensive method.
What is the difference between Sublimation and Screen printing? Sublimation and Screen printing are very different from each other. Screen printing requires tools like stencils, thick inks, and heat sources. Also, it takes a lot of time to complete. On the other hand, sublimation printing can get a design imprinted on a fabric by using transformation papers, special inks, and heat presses. They also consume less time to complete.
Sublimation Vs Screen Printing
Further in this article, you will get a detailed insight into the differences between sublimation and screen printing. So, grab a seat and stick till the end to get the perfect overview.
Introduction to Sublimation and Screen Printing
What is the Difference Between Sublimation and Screen Printing?
Sublimation printing is a very modern method of printing designs on fabrics. In this method of printing a sublimation printer is used. It prints the design out on a sublimation paper and then the sublimation paper with the design on it is placed on the fabric. The fabric is then passed through a heat press that imprints the design on the shirt permanently.
It is permanent because the sublimation ink with which the design is printed out follows the mechanics of the sublimation process. Now, the heat intensifies it.
Screen printing is one of the oldest methods of design printing, but is long and a bit expensive. This process puts a stencil and a squeegee to use and passes thick ink through a silk screen that makes a raised design print.
After the printing, it is exposed to a heat source and the design becomes permanent. It can be used on any fabric unless it is polyester.
Sublimation Vs. Screen Printing
There are many differences between sublimation and screen printing. The main difference between them is the method of using the inks to print the designs. Sublimation printing uses the chemical process of sublimation to print the designs. While screen printing uses the physical method of squeezing the ink to imprint the designs. When I tried both methods I found some Other differences between sublimation and screen printing.
In terms of durability, sublimation printing is much more durable as compared to screen printing. This is because in sublimation, inks bond with the polyester in the fabric very deeply.
While, in screen printing, there is no such bonding between ink and fabric. You will never see sublimation prints fade away or crack, but screen prints crack or fade away eventually. So, sublimation prints last longer.
In terms of general quality, sublimation, and screen prints are both considered high-quality. But, if we observe deeply, sublimation prints are of more high quality because they offer a variety of vividness to the designs. They also produce high-brightness colored prints.
While, in screen prints, this quality is not observed. Hence, sublimation prints are considered high-quality.
3. Time Consumed
Another difference between sublimation and screen printing is the time consumed in the completion of prints. In sublimation prints, a design can be imprinted as fast as 5 minutes. While screen prints could take even up to hours. If a person is looking to imprint designs swiftly, then sublimation printing would suit them without a doubt.
4. Complex Designs
When it comes to complex design prints, sublimation printing is more convenient. This is because, in a sublimation printer, the design is printed directly on a sublimation paper from the computers.
While, in screen prints, you must have a great variety of inks, and patience to make such complex designs. Also, you can not make complex designs in screen printing unless you have a great amount of skill. So, sublimation printing is more convenient.
5. Economical Method
If you are looking for a cost-friendly design printing method, then sublimation is the best method. It is said to be more cost-friendly because a single print cost for sublimation is around 2 USD without the shirt.
While, for a screen print, it costs around 9 USD without the shirt. So, whether you are a starter or an old fish, sublimation printing would best suit your budget.
6. Color Blending
Color blending can be done in both screen and sublimation printing methods. But, in screen printing, you have to mix the colors by hand and apply them to the fabric. While in sublimation printing, you can easily blend colors with the digital software and print perfect color designs.
7. Special Effects
Special effects are a luxury only screen printing methods can afford. In sublimation printing, you can not put special effects like mesh screens, or physical effects on the design. This is because it is digitalized first, then printed onto the sublimation paper.
In screen printing, you can easily put such effects on the prints, because this is a physical method and everything can be done by hand.
8. Usable Fabrics
Both printing methods use different kinds of fabrics to imprint designs on. The fabrics used for screen printing must-have cotton as their major part of the composition, at least 90% Cotton. For Sublimation printing, the fabric must have a major part of the composition as polyester, the same amount as the cotton in fabric for screen printing i.e. 90%.
9. Multi-Color Prints
The prime of design printing for shirts is based upon the color variety of the prints. To make them catchier and more attractive, they must have an adequate amount of color diversity.
In such cases, sublimation prints can support it but not screen prints. This is because in sublimation, everything is done digitally and no physical skill is required, unlike screen printing.
10. Variety of Substrates
When we talk about the variety of substrates how many and which types of blanks we can transfer designs with both methods? so, I simply discovered that in Sublimation Printing you can only use light color or white color substrates whereas in the screen printing method you can use any color substrates for transferring designs means you are not limited to choosing your desired blanks.
So, in terms of the variety of substrates screen printing is far better than sublimation printing. in screen printing, you can transfer images on polyester, ceramics, aluminum, cotton, or any hard surfaces with clear sharp, and bright designs.
Which One Is Better? Sublimation or Screen Printing
Now, when one gets familiar with the differences between sublimation and screen printing. They wonder which one is better for them. The main differences between them all point toward the sublimation printing being better. We have collected all the data you need to decide for yourself which one better suits you.
Generally, both design printing methods produce unique and beautiful prints. But, screen printing has lots of disadvantages as compared to sublimation printing. Screen printing can be useful to you only if you are trying to set up a full-fledged industry for shirt printing. But, if you want your home set up for your design or a small business, sublimation printing is optimal.
The disadvantages of sublimation printing are that it only works on fabrics that contain polyester or a layer of polymers. Also, this is not a long-term method of printing and can not handle heavy loads of output. Also, it requires a one-time investment for the printer only.
Frequently Asked Question
Which is better Sublimation vs. Screen printing?
In terms of printing, both sublimation and screen printing methods are unique and convenient. But, if you want to print out realistic and high-quality prints, then sublimation printing is best for you.
This is because it can handle multiple inks at a time and is not time-consuming. While screen printing can only print limited colored designs and consumes a huge amount of time. So, sublimation is best for you.
Which lasts longer Sublimation or Screen printing?
Sublimation prints last much longer than Screen printing because sublimation inks are bonded tightly to the polyester deep in the fabrics.
While screen prints crack after some amount of time because it has no bonds with the fabrics. It is merely the adherence of the ink that keeps the print for an amount of time. Hence, sublimation prints last longer.
Is sublimation printing expensive?
No, sublimation printing is not expensive at all. The only thing you’ll have to spend your money on will be the sublimation printer. It is a one-time investment and will cost you as cheap as 400USD.
When this method was new, only then was it expensive. Now, you can start your sublimation printing by investing as low as 1000 USD. So, sublimation printing is not very expensive.
Are screen print transfers the same as sublimation prints?
Sublimation prints are very different from screen print transfers. In sublimation prints, the designs are bonded with the fabric and seem to be a part of the shirt.
While in screen prints, the design cracks and is popped up, and feel rough, unlike sublimation prints. So, screen prints are not the same as sublimation prints.