Sublimation Vs Screen Printing | Pros & Cons

For Fabric or Ceramic printing… the most important task is to decide whether to go with sublimation or screen printing. One may have better printing results, while the other gives a better compatibility option. One may be convenient and affordable while the other has advanced printing technologies. Alike these, there are many key components that makes user stuck on which one to go with or what is better?

Sublimation Vs Screen Printing pros and cons

Well, the answer is merely personal and thus, depends on which technologies you are more inclined and convenient towards. Therefore, having a detailed and comparative analysis of sublimation vs screen printing based on how they work, how long the print last, and what are the pros and cons and both can really help you narrow down your choice for your next printing project.

Sublimation Vs Screen Printing: Key Differences

The key difference between sublimation and screen printing is the method i.e screen printing directly prints the fabric/ceramic with liquid ink while the sublimation process requires dying the material with ink transferred in a gaseous state.

Since the method varies, the entire characteristics of both types of printing change including the basic characteristics, maneuverability, and printing outcomes. Let’s have a detailed analysis of all these differences that concerns sublimation vs screen printing to help you decide which one should you really go with for printing your fabrics or ceramics.

Printing characteristics:

Printing from sublimation has the design “dyed” onto the fabric while screen printing has the design printed in actuality. Such that, we can conclude sublimation vs screen printing to printer vs sublimated because that’s how both methods works.

Printing characteristic

In sublimation, the printer will give you many color options i.e cyan, magenta, yellow, and clear overcoat color combinations to expand your varieties whereas screen printing only works with one ink at a time. Though, screen printing has an edge for printing 3D designs and creating foil prints with the help of specialized ink.

Sublimation is quite a quick process in which you’ll hardly need 10-20 minutes after pressing to use the apparel. Comparatively, screen printing requires 2-3 days for the garments to have the design permanently embedded in them. 

Printing Supplies:

Screen printing requires a vinyl kit that contains, mesh, squeegee, and the frame. To assemble the design, you’ll require a painter and transfer tape plus a Cricut machine to cut it. In contrast, sublimation requires a sublimation printer, paper, and ink. A lint roller and butcher paper for assembling the fabric. However, the last step of both the process is the same i.e both the sublimation and screenprint transfers use a heat press to transfer the design.

Durability:

Printouts from the sublimation methods tend to be more durable than the screen printing ones. Reason? Since the ink dyes into the fabric, it provides greater washability, and thus, the design last longer without getting cracked or faded. In contrast, screen printing does wash out after several washes, or at least they do crack.

Ease of use:

In terms of use, sublimation is pretty much a hit. The setup is quite easy and you just have to set the printer, make the design ready, assemble it with the garment and pass it through the heat press.

In comparison, screen printing uses screens to set up and then install vinyl kits. And don’t forget about the emulsion process and then washing the frames afterward.

Sublimation Printing:

Sublimation printing is the method that uses dye technology to transfer ink in the gaseous form to the fabric via a heat press. It uses special sublimation or transfer paper and sublimation ink.

PROS:

  • Sublimation printing works with 4-8 colors at a time. This means that you can work with almost all the colors at a time.
  • It saves you from changing ink every time you need to change the color.
  • Printouts of sublimation have better washability.
  • It allows air to pass through the garments.
  • The prints are anti-fade and anti-crack.
  • Other than fabric and ceramics, sublimation printing opens doors to a wide variety of materials and items that you may print.
  • CONS:

  • It is quite expensive; considering that you have to invest in multiple items i.e specialized printer, paper, ink, and heat press.
  • Only those fabrics can be sublimated that are made of polyester or consist of at least 25% of polyester in them.
  • Screen Printing

    Screen printing is a process that uses a mesh to transfer the design onto the fabric through a squeegee. Basically, it uses a liquid form of ink and prints through the screen directly on the fabric. Though, it is one of the most widely used methods for garment and T-shirt printing in the industry for a long ago.

    PROS:

  • Extremely budget-friendly.
  • Works with any fabric of any kind.
  • Screen printing is quite speedy. You can take up hundreds of printing projects in just minutes.
  • Compatible with multiple ink options through which you can create 3D designs, etc.
  • CONS:

  • You cant use more than one color at a time.
  • Setting up the screenings extends the printing time.
  • The design may be prone to cracks after being washed multiple times.
  • Is screen printing the same as sublimation?

    Screen printing and sublimation, despite many differences, have quite a few similarities that make people go “Is screen printing the same as sublimation?”. Well, they both stand entirely different but here’s what they share in common. 

    The sublimation process uses specialized ink which cannot be used with a regular printer. Similarly, screen printing uses plastisol (a commonly used screen printing ink) which cannot be used in regular printing either. 

    In both sublimation and screen printing, you need a heat press to make the design permanent on the fabric. For example, sublimation requires the transfer of design from paper to fabric. On the other hand, screen printing produces screenprints ready to press. 

    Which one is better? Sublimation Vs Screen Printing

    Well, with all the pros and cons listed and explained already, we are pretty much positive to have you decide on one option as per your needs. Though, both screen and sublimation printing can be a winner based on how a person intends to use it. All in all, here’s the breakdown of the entire thing; 

    If you are into quality and creativity, go with the sublimation. It’ll provide you with more color options as well as give your fabric long-term durability that neither fades nor cracks. However, screen printing is the best opinion if you do shirt or fabric printing in bulk and needs to cut out the budget. Other than these options, you may also carry on both types of printing, if your budget and business premises allows. 

    Emily

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