Most Popular Custom Apparel Printing Techniques You Should Know

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T-shirts are one of the coolest pieces of clothing. People of all ages love to wear it. The trend of custom t-shirts is growing rapidly. Today this industry is a million-dollar industry. This has motivated a lot of entrepreneurs to start a t-shirt printing business. When it comes to buying any particular product, different people have different requirements. The same applies to clothe items as well. That is why different techniques are used to manufacture clothes.

In the clothing industry, apart from the design to be printed, the most crucial thing is the printing technique. With so many different options available, it can be quite tricky to choose the best printing method. It is because there are many factors that can affect the final product. That is why we will take a look at the most popular printing techniques so that you can make a quick decision on which printing option to choose for your business or product.

Here Are the Most Popular Custom Apparel Printing Techniques

Screen/ Silk Screen Printing:

It is one of the most widely used t-shirt printing methods. China was the first country who had invented this process. Under this method, screens are pressed up against the cloth. Every screen prints a single color. It means if you want to print more than one color on your t-shirt, you would require different screens. The method gives high-quality results. If you want to print a complex design in your t-shirt, then this may not be the ideal option. Apart from custom apparel, you can use this method for creating posters and other artwork.


  • It prints high-quality t-shirts
  • It is suitable for bulk orders
  • The design prints with this technique last for a longer period of time.
  • Users can print multiple colors in the t-shirt


  • The cost of printing increases with an increase in the colors
  • It is not environment-friendly
  • The method is not suitable for single or small orders

Direct To Garments (DTG):

It is another popular method that is used to print high-quality, colorful, photographic prints onto a t-shirt. The method was introduced in 2005 and is ideal for printing complex designs. The method has the potential to print the tiniest color details onto a t-shirt. Since the method works with water-based inks, it is thus best suited for 100% cotton t-shirts. But that doesn’t mean one cannot use cotton blend fabric. Additionally, if you want to print your design on a darker t-shirt, then it won’t look good because the ink used in printing is thin. If you’ve created a design using a t shirt maker, make sure to pick a lighter shade of shirt before you begin.


  • The turnaround time is much faster as compared to screen printing
  • It does not demand any setup cost
  • The technique is good for designs that require different colors
  • The technique is ideal for small orders


  • The ink used in this method is a little expensive. Therefore, as the volume increases, the cost will also increase.
  • There is no consistency in the prints, and it depends on a lot of variable factors such as t-shirt material, temperature, and pretreatment liquid.
  • The quality of the print is not as good as Screen printing.

Dye Sublimation:

This type of printing works with a special ink that turns into gas when the heat is applied. It means that when the gas gets connected with the fabric, instead of being on the top, it becomes a part of it. Interesting huh? The method is ideal for big and complex designs. Because of the particular nature of the inks, this technique works great on polyester fabric. The final result of this method is excellent. If you want to print your design on a darker t-shirt, the process can be a little challenging. Apart from clothing, the method is used for digital print onto a wide range of products such as mugs, metal signs, wooden items, glass products, etc.


  • The colors appear bright and are long-lasting
  • This method offers huge color options
  • It offers maximum design details


  • Sublimation printing can be done only on polyester fabric
  • The technique is suitable for small orders

Heat Press Printing:

Just like its name, the method uses heat and pressure to engrave the design on a garment. The method works on a special paper called transfer paper. The design is printed on that paper. A set amount of heat and pressure is applied on top of the paper so that the dye transfers onto the fabric. If you want to print the design at the back of the t-shirt, put silicone paper on the front design and print on the backside similar to the front side. The method is suitable for complex designs and is not recommended for printing on darker t-shirts.


  • This method is simple to use
  • It is a cost-effective method for small orders
  • It is good for starting a t-shirt printing business or home production
  • It is suitable for complex designs


  • This method is time-consuming as every image needs to cut exactly to eliminate the extra paper
  • The set-up cost is expensive
  • It doesn’t work well on darker materials
  • The print quality may not be as great as compared to other printing methods.

CAD Cut Vinyl Printing:

The abbreviation ‘CAD’ stands for computer-aided design. This method is unique from other printing methods because instead of a person, the computer cuts the design. It reduces the possibility of error. Under this method, by using CAD cutter, vinyl sheets are cut according to the design. The design is then printed on a t-shirt by using a heat press machine. The technique is commonly used for printing numbers, logos, and names onto the t-shirt. Cotton t-shirts and dry-fit sports jerseys are the best suitable fabric for this method. If you want to print complex design, then it is not recommended to use this technique.


  • It does not require any setup cost
  • This method is perfect for plain color design
  • It prints high-quality images
  • It is best for copying designs with small details
  • It takes less time to produce a t-shirt


  • The method is not suitable for large orders
  • It is suitable only for cotton and dry-fit t-shirts
  • The technique requires special CAD cutters, software, and heat press
  • It is not suitable for complex designs


So, folks, these are the most popular apparel printing techniques. Each technique has its advantages and disadvantages. Choose your method wisely because if you are starting a t-shirt printing business, then choosing the wrong technique can cost you a lot. If you want to create a custom t-shirt design, then Designhill should be the single stop for you. The platform lets its users to get connected with thousands of professional graphic designers. It also provides easy-to-use t-shirt maker tool that creates t-shirts within minutes.

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