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Printing Quality and Types

Don’t think of merch as a novelty, but rather as a product to represent both you and your band.  There are different methods to achieve the same end – your merch.  If you put your stamp of approval on a certain product, you would want to know which method is the best way to achieve the best product, right?  Let’s look at some of the most popular printing methods and what their advantages are.

Direct to Garment

This method, abbreviated as DTG, is a newer way of printing on garments.  Think of it as a big printer, that prints on t-shirts rather than on paper.  What sets this new technology apart is that it enables you to print fewer garments at a time and the fact that it can do full-colour prints is truly a game-changer.

This machine also creates an opportunity for the drop-shipping method and this method is where a customer orders a garment online, it gets printed almost immediately and sent to the customer directly.  Awesome!

Pros – Full-colour prints, detailed design, one-offs, minimal upfront investment.

Cons – Darker garments have thicker prints, can be pricey for lower amounts

Screen Printing

This method is widely known and preferred, and rightfully so.  It gives you a vibrant print with a soft and smooth finish for a long period of time.  It’s the best way to print a single design on bulk items as a screen (think of it as a template) is created for every design.  The more colours, the more screens, the higher the price. 

The method works basically like this – each screen is held in place with the garment beneath it.  The screen is flooded with ink that seeps through the mesh onto the garment.  The squeegee is rolled over the screen and then wiped away.  Then the garment goes for curing and drying.

Pros – Cost-effective for larger batches, ideal for simple designs with limited colours, can print multiple colours, great quality

Cons – Has a minimum order quanity, one design per batch, bigger upfront investment

Sublimation

Sublimation is a process whereby ink is transferred from a sheet of paper into the garment by heat pressing the sublimation paper onto a 100% polyester garment, the pores of the garment open and lets the sublimation ink (that is now in a gas form) in.  When the pressure press releases, the ink turns solid, captured inside the shirt.

This method is used best for all over, bigger or full-colour graphics like a photo on the material. 

Pro – All over prints, photo prints, unlimited graphics and colours

Cons – Mostly polyester t-shirts


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