Difference Between Heat Press vs Screen Printing

This post has been updated for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas 2019

Difference Between Heat Press Vs Screen PrintingThere have been so many advancements in the printing industry. Thanks to these advancements, it’s never been easier to transfer graphic images onto various types of substrates! If you’re thinking about starting up a T-shirt making business or any other business that involves printing graphic images onto substrates (or if you just want to produce your own hand-made creations for fun), you probably want to know what method you should use.

The vinyl cutter, heat press, and screen printing are three of the most commonly used methods for applying graphic images onto textiles and other mediums. Of these three methods, the two that are most similar are screen printing and heat press. They aren’t exactly the same, however; there are definite differences between these two techniques. Below, we’ll explain those differences so you can determine which option will better suit your needs.

Heat Press and Screen Printing Explained

So, what’s the difference between heat press and screen printing? Read on to find out!

Heat Press Printing Defined

Heat press printing involves using pressure and heat to transfer a graphic image to a substrate; a T-shirt, a sweatshirt, a baseball cap, a tote bag, a blanket, or curtains, for example. There are two main types of heat pressing: vinyl heat and digital print heat transfer. With the former process, a tool cuts letters, numbers, and other designs out of vinyl. Once the designs are cut out, a heat press is used to transfer the vinyl images onto a substrate. With the latter, an image is printed digitally onto heat transfer paper in solvent ink. The printed image is then transferred onto a garment using a heat press machine.

As you can see, with both methods, a heat press machine is required. Heat press printing is ideal for bulk creations, as a heat press can transfer high-quality graphics in a short period of time.

Screen Printing Defined

The ideal of screen printing is relatively similar to the premise of heat press printing; however, this method involves creating templates out of screens and then using ink to transfer the images that are showcased in the template onto a garment.

Once the design is cut out of a screen, the template is placed over a textile and special ink is poured on top of it. A tool is used to spread the ink across the template and into the garment. While this process does yield bold, durable, and beautiful results, it is much more complex and tedious; it also takes a lot longer than heat printing.

Which Method is the Best?

So, which method should you use: heat press or screen printing? That really depends on your specific needs and the end results that you are trying to achieve.

Screen printing is ideal for jobs that require a very bold, natural look; however, since different screens have to be created for each color featured in screen printing, it’s very labor intensive and it can take a tremendous amount of time. If you’re looking for the fastest results possible, heat transfer printing is definitely the way to go. It doesn’t require nearly as much time as screen printing, the results are faster, and it’s much more cost-effective.

To determine which type of printing is right for your needs, consider your budget, the quantity of printed items you need, and the benefits that each form of printing offers. If you’re planning on creating large quantities of garments that feature the same image, heat transfer is likely the best option for you; however, if you want to create a truly custom look, screen printing may be a better choice.