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Screen printing vs Digital printing: Which is better for your brand?

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When choosing the best t-shirt printing method that’s perfect for your business, consider quality, cost, and how quick production is. These are the three main factors when it comes to your printing method decisions.

The two most popular and proven effective t-shirt printing methods in the industry are screen and digital printing. Find out the pros and cons of each method before you choose which one is perfect for your business.

Screen Printing: Pros and cons

Screen printing is the most common and popular method in t-shirt printing. It’s been used by both small and large businesses long before digital printing has been introduced in the industry. In fact, screen printing has been used as a traditional decorating technique for thousands of years. But how does screen printing work, exactly?

Screen printing uses a silk screen to print the inks on the fabric—thus the name. Each ink dye is pressed on the fabric through the screen and heat is then applied to the print for the ink to finally set.

Should you use the screen printing method for your t-shirt business? Here are its pros and cons:


  • Perfect for large batch orders
  • Great for simple single or few-colored prints
  • Best printing method for cotton and cotton-blend fabrics
  • Brings out the best vibrancy effect on t-shirt prints


  • Has issues with color blending, especially with prints with various color mixes
  • Does not print the smallest and most intricate details as clearly as other methods
  • Average comfort and feel
  • Also has issues with consistent pattern printing

Screen printing is a tried and tested method that can be used even by new and starting businesses. You can use it to accomplish bulk orders in a short amount of time, especially when the t-shirt designs are simple logos and fonts. 

Aside from its strengths of quick production, this method also prints out vibrant colors on the fabric. Screen printing uses Plastisol ink which is the key factor for bringing out the saturation of the inks when pressed on the t-shirt.

However, despite its vibrancy, the blending of these inks is a challenge with the screen printing method. If your custom designs feature small details, it might be hard to translate these intricacies on the fabric clearly.

Digital Printing: Pros and cons

Just like with any other production method, the t-shirt printing industry has developed other ways of putting ink on fabrics. Sometimes called Direct-to-Garment, direct printing is a newer printing method that directly prints your t-shirt custom designs onto the fabric directly.

Unlike screen printing which uses heat to transfer the ink onto the fabric, digital printing processes the t-shirt design through a computer and prints it directly. While digital printing is the newer process between the two, it’s not necessarily the best one right away.

Here are the pros and cons of digital printing:


  • Great color blending results
  • Details are clearly printed out on the fabric
  • Able to hold the colors on the fabric for a long period of time, regardless of wear and tear
  • Lightweight and soft feel of the print
  • Consistent output and printing results


  • Less vibrancy
  • White print cannot be easily reproduced
  • Fabrics you can choose from are limited
  • Only recommended for a few orders at a time

Digital printing uses water-based inks which lessens the vibrancy output of the design on the fabric. These inks are not as opaque as the Plastisols used in screen printing. However, the main strength of digital printing is its ability to produce highly-detailed designs on the fabric. 

If you’re going for photographic prints, this method might be better than screen printing. Gradient designs are also the forte of digital printing. 

Get a quote on both t-shirt printing methods with us!

Whether you’re going for the screen or digital printing method, it’s important to know the costs of production on both. Before you decide which one to go for, get a quote on your t-shirt custom designs first with us. The screen printing vs digital printing debate comes down to what your business needs to bring out the best of your custom designs. We can help with your printing decisions—contact us anytime!

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