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T-Shirt Printing Processes


Today, there are many different printing processes for t-shirts. With the variety of decorations wanted on t-shirts and the increase of custom t-shirt designs, printing processes are constantly changing and adapting. Here are the most common types of processes:


  • Screen printing – this process uses a screen printer and a stencil of your design. The screen printer will burn the stencil of your design onto a mesh screen. A separate screen will be created for each color used. The screen(s) are then put in the printing press and ink is pushed through the mesh stencil and onto your blank t-shirt.
  • Digital printing – this process uses a bigger, stronger version of an inkjet printer. It uses semi-opaque inks, blended together to create a wide spectrum of colors on your t-shirt. This is a popular printing method for full-color t-shirts.
  • Dye Sublimation – this process is not used as commonly as it once was. This process uses transfer paper. Your design is put on the transfer paper (reversed) and then printers are used with heat to transfer dye onto your t-shirt. This is mainly used on polyester fabrics.
  • Heat Transfers – this process has been done by many people in their own homes. This process uses special transfer paper. Your design is printed on the transfer paper and then the heat from an iron is used to transfer the design onto the t-shirt. This method is not as durable is typically not done professionally.
  • Air Brush – this process is done by select professionals, and is done by utilizing a small spray gun to apply color to the t-shirt. It has somewhat of a graffiti effect. This is considered a specialty service by many t-shirt printing companies.