How to T-shirt Printing?
Thousands of years ago, the Chinese did a wonderful thing for humanity. It was a gift to the species of plain shirts: inventing and improving the art of shirt-printing.
Different printing types play a significant role in making them alive, getting rid of all lameness, making shirts more awesome, and luring customers.
Or... get whatever is in your mind printed on the T-shirt to let people know what you want to say. Best part? You're not legally responsible if people misunderstand. (Cool, huh?)
There are too many methods out there, but let's explore the two most popular ones.
- Screen Printing
- DTG Printing
- Inkjet/Laser Iron-on Transfer
- Stencil Printing
- CAD Cut Vinyls
- Plastisol Transfer
- Dye Sublimation printing
- Discharge printing
How to do Screen printing?
Known as the Guru, this method has a good reputation in the T-shirt printing industry.
Wanna know why? Z. It gives the most vibrant, long-lasting designs on shirts. It's sad how everything in the 21st century has to do with screens, but let's get into the method.
What you need for screen-printing?
- Screen with a suitable mesh count (according to the t-shirt's material). You can buy it here and also the rest. Read how to choose the mesh for screen printing here.
- A squeegee (Belongs to the family of floor wipers)
- Photo emulsions.
- Screen printing inks (Choose your fav colors)
Please make a list and go get them from the nearest supermarket. Pssst: A chocolate won't hurt.
- Mix photo emulsion solution and sensitizer by reading the description written on the bottles. (Their instructions are simple)
- Spread this bluish-green colour emulsion on the screen with the help of a squeegee.
- Keep the layer thin and even.
- Leave the screen alone in a dark room and turn the fan on. (This screen needs some quality time alone)
- Do you have a vector-based printed design on transparency paper? (Make sure you have done this before getting started
- Carefully place that transparency paper backward on the top of the screen.
- Put the glass screen on top of that. Now place the screen under the bright white light (Not the Sunlight)
Sleep (or shop here) for 45 minutes, and your screen will be ready.
- Rub the screen gently with a toothbrush and shower spray. (Do not use a dirty toothbrush, buy a new one.)
- Dry it and attach it to the printing press.
- Place your crease-free shirt under the screen.
- Cover the shirt with the screen.
- Drop printing ink on the screen slowly. (What's the rush?)
- Spread it on screen with a squeegee. Lift the screen, your screen-printed shirt is ready.
Screen Printing Variations
- Puff print (A type of specialty ink commonly used in screen printing that, when heated, expands to create a three-dimensional ink film)
- Gel printing (see-through solid layer of gel on top)
- Crackle finish (the ink creates a beautiful dry cracking effect)
- Glow-in-the-dark effect
- UV Glow finish
- Suede (take a guess!)
- Glitter effect (glitter is pre-added to the ink for a unique shine)
How to do DTG Printing on the t-shirt?
Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing is an expensive modern-day printing method. However, it gives high-resolution, pixel-based designs on t-shirts. It is fast and needs less manual work (yeah, this is the lazy sloths' method).
It provides a large color variety when compared to screen-printing.
Things you need in this method
- DTG machine
- Heat press machine
- Run the shirt through the heat press machine.
- Design the image on the computer and connect it with the DTG machine.
- Stretch the t-shirt on the flatbed printer tray of the DTG machine.
Your design will quickly be embedded on the shirt. (Don't poke it while it's wet)
- Again, pass it through the heat presser.
Now it's ready. (Poke it all you want).
Inkjet/Laser Iron-on Transfer
Although this sounds awesome, it's sadly not a superpower...just a simple t-shirt printing technique.
You're gonna need an Inkjet/Laser Printer, a Heat Press, and Transfer to make this method work. This is expensive heavy machinery, so we don't suggest using it after having a night of drinking with friends. (This isn't an issue for Yammeya's CEO as he has no friends to party with) 😀
Anyways, the magic of this method lies in the transfer paper (made of special transferable vinyl). The process is simple: create the design on your computer and use the Inkjet/Laser printer to print the design onto vinyl papers.
When the design is on the vinyl, press it design-side down on the shirt and apply heat using a hot iron. The heating process transfers the design onto your t-shirt, and you're good to go!
⚠️ Fair warning: Transfer papers are made for specific printers. You can't use Laser printer transfer papers with an Inkjet printer and vice versa. We did that once, and let's say things didn't go so well. There was, or wasn't an explosion, maybe…🥺
Does stencil printing remind you of something we did before? THINK HARD…
Yes! Stencil printing is from the same family as Tie Dye. Using stencils means a lot of hard labour; that's why industrial production is not feasible. But if you want to have some fun with friends designing the hottest DIY shirts, stencil printing is the way to go!
There are different stencil printing techniques for other designs, but we won't go into that boring detail…
BECAUSE THIS IS ALL ABOUT INNOVATION!
Use circles, lines, shapes, objects, contouring, whatever you want. There are too many options to play around with.
CAD Cut Vinyls
Get ready for some more Vinyl magic with CAD cut vinyl! There are no printers involved this time, just a good old heat press to embed the design onto shirts.
If there are no printers, where does the design itself come from? The design already exists on premade solid vinyl sheets, and these are cut with the help of a large machine. This is a cost-effective method, and you can easily find vinyl with many different designs.
The only problem? CAD cut pieces of vinyl suck if you plan on producing large quantities. This is because all designs have to be individually cut.
Of course, you don't have to deal with all this because you can just buy from Yammeya 😎
One variation of this method is Flock Printing, is a process in which short fibers of rayon, cotton, wool, or another natural or synthetic material are applied to an adhesive-coated surface. This adds a velvet or suede-like texture to the surface. Since the fibers can be dyed, flocking can also add color to a printed area. It works awesome with bold designs.
⚠️ BEWARE, though, flock printed shirts are likely to face a lot of pilling.
Plastisol Transfer is famous for producing the softest prints on t-shirts. It's all about using high-quality heat transfer paper for quick, time-efficient printing.
The good thing is that, with Plastisol Transfer, you can achieve both matte and glossy finishing. Use hot split transfers for a soft matty finish and the cold peels transfer method for a classy, glossy finish. We won't tell you which style is better: that's your call to make!
🤚 Although one-off printing orders can be comparatively cheap, you have to invest in a durable heat press machine before you can even dream of printing any shirts.
Dye Sublimation printing
Although you may once again have to pull out the heavy machinery, dye sublimation looks just heavenly on white polyester and other human-made fabrics.
During the printing, the dye is heated up until it turns into vapor. Then this vapor absorbs into the fabric of the t-shirt, giving the softest possible feeling. Apart from the heat press and the printer, dye sublimation needs special inks and release papers to get the job done.
If you want to print an all-over design on a 100% polyester t-shirt, this is probably, no wait, DEFINITELY, your best bet. However, dye sublimation prints won't work on cotton shirts because the colors will soon fade out (speaking from experience after my colored cotton t-shirt became so white I thought it was from the USA).
Discharge printing isn't like any other regular printing: it's a unique printing process done in REVERSE! (No, it's not like time travel).
Special discharge inks are used to bleach colored t-shirts. This process removes some of the dye, leaving a vintage aesthetic effect.
Sadly though, discharge printing only works on 100% natural fabrics. On top of that, it tends to be expensive, and quality can differ from piece to piece.
Anyway, use any of these methods, print your own customized-shirts, and imagine being a French luxury couturier.