T-shirt Printing - How to Decide What Is Best for You?

You can find someone to personalize just about anything these days. Corporate pens, key rings, bottle openers and tshirt printing have been around for decades. Now, a quick search on the internet reveals that you can get your message printed on advent calendars and Christmas decorations. There are chopping boards and spectacle stands; towels and cushions. Nothing is sacred!

So, what are the options for tshirt printing? We have had a look at what is out there and what is best for your particular requirements:

T-Shirt Manufacturer

There are quite a few different base T-shirt suppliers out there. The quality of the product varies considerably (and so does the price). Some tshirt printing companies offer different base shirts depending on your needs.

The quality of the material makes a difference. If it is silkscreen printing that you want (see below) then cotton is definitely the one to choose. The liquid inks used in the process are absorbed best by natural fibres. Don't select a T-shirt made with a shiny, synthetic material for this route. For Direct to Garment (DTG) digital printing, the tighter the weave the better so look at the more expensive end of the spectrum.

The choice of T-shirt manufacturer will also determine fit and shape. One supplier's 'Medium' will be another supplier's 'Large'. The shape of the shirt may also be very different from baggy styles to slimmer, more tailored fits. The only way to decide what is best for you is to look at samples and think about who is going to wear the end-product.

Other factors to consider when looking at T-shirt make are:

* Washability. Try to see how the product looks like after a year of use. Have the colours faded? Has the shape gone baggy, or shrunk after multiple washes?

* Seams. Have the seams unstitched?

* Print quality. The base material and method of manufacture could affect the longevity of the colours and overall print quality.

Printing method

Heat transfer

This involves pressing a polymer-based transfer onto the shirt. It is great for small quantities and can deal with photographs. It only really works on white shirts as colours can merge - your yellow logo on a blue shirt might end up a little green!

Silkscreen printing

Silkscreen printing is a very ancient process involving ink and stencils. It is not great at very detailed designs but it is very good at volume production. Don't choose this if you want a quick set of T-shirts for a trade show - the set-up costs will be astronomical. Do choose silkscreen printing if you are planning the merchandise for the next Taylor Swift World Tour.

Direct to Garment (DTG) printing

DTG technology has developed massively in recent years. Using bubble-jet printers is very slow but can produce amazing detail and quality with any colour you like. The process is great for one-offs and small runs.

Conclusion - T-shirt printing

Your T-Shirt supplier should be able to advise you on the best combination of T-shirt and printing method for your application. Remember to think about the volume you want - silkscreen printing is definitely the one to go for if you want volume production. Tshirt printing for lower volumes depends on your budget and application. A set of stag-do shirts that will be worn once are probably best made with a cheaper shirt and heat transfer printing. A trade show 'uniform' for your crew may need something more impressive so go for quality and DTG inkjet printing.

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