There are several ways to add an image, text or a logo to apparel and promotional products, but what should you use where and why? The following gives a very quick overview of some of the techniques and the artwork needed to get the best results.
Sublimation printing is a digital printing process whereby special sublimation ready papers are printed with a graphic or design and then transferred to Polyester fabrics through a heat press. How does it work? The inks used in the sublimation process are quite unique in their ability to convert from a solid to a gas without going through a liquid form. (Think dry ice). The conversion is initiated by heat and is controlled by pressure and time to sublimate transfer the graphic from the sublimation papers onto any sublimation ready surface, such as Polyester fabrics. What is the process? Artworks and designs are printed digitally onto special dye sublimation papers with the use of specially made dye sublimation inks. These papers are then run through a large heat calendar press, along with the chosen fabric to be sublimated together. In order to transfer the image from the paper to the substrate, it requires a heat press process that is a combination of time, temperature and pressure. The heat press applies this special combination, which can change depending on the substrate, to “transfer” the sublimation dyes at the molecular level into the substrate. The end result of the sublimation process is a nearly permanent, high resolution, full color print. Because the dyes are infused into the substrate at the molecular level, rather than applied at a topical level (such as with screen printing and direct to garment printing), the prints will not crack, fade or peel from the substrate under normal conditions. Recommended uses: Swimwear, Sportswear, Tracksuits and more.
Screen printing is cost effective especially on large volumes, where solid block colours and large images are required on flat surfaces. Ideal for printing on a wide range of surfaces, ranging from apparel through to plastics, ceramics and metals, coloured inks are forced through a fine mesh to create the final image. Great for solid colours where a Pantone colour match is required. Screen printing involves creating a stencil (printers call this a "screen"), and then using that stencil to apply layers of ink on the printing surface. Each color is applied using a different stencil, one at a time, combined to achieve the final look. Screen printing is the best option for designs that require a high level of vibrancy, when printing on dark shirts, or for specialty products. The ink in screen printing is applied thicker than digital printing, which results in brighter colors even on darker shirts. The fact that these products are printed by hand also allows for unique products like water bottles, koozies and mugs, as the printer can manually handle curved or uneven surfaces. The minimum order quantity on screen printed items exists because of the extra materials and labor time associated with this printing method .
With 16 million colours, DDGP can achieve quick delivery with no minimum quantities. It works like a desktop printer (but much bigger!) and can print on white and light coloured garments, using special permanent dyes that will last the life of the item. Ideal for garments, towels and some promotional products. Digital printing is a much newer process that involves your artwork being processed by a computer, and then printed directly onto the surface of your product. Digital printing is not a heat transfer or appliqu'e, as the ink is directly adhered to the fabric of your shirt. Each printing process has its strengths, and our artwork team will weigh these when deciding which to use for your design. Digital printing is best used for items that require high amounts of detail, and orders of a smaller quantity. The fact that the digital printer does not use screens allows for a photographic print, with much more detail than traditional screen printing. As the ink is applied thinner (to achieve such detail), digital printing is best used on lighter colored shirts to allow the design to shine through. The fact that the design is processed and printed digitally allows for a quantity of one, since there are no screens or physical setup.
A sewn logo has a high perceived value and creates a smart look that maintains its vibrant colour for the life of the product. Text needs to be a minimum of 5mm in height for crisp reproduction and there are several hundred colours available. Creating an embroidery file is a manual operation using a mix of art and science and has to be created separately for each size required, as unlike a graphic file – you can’t stretch a stitch! Pricing is based on the number of stitches and the complexity of the job, as these affect the length of time that the job takes on our machines.
Digital Print Vinyl Transfers
Full colour vinyl transfers are heat applied to garments to offer an alternative to screen and digital direct to garment printing and can also be reproduced on dark coloured garments. The modern super stretch materials are bonded to the product and maintain their colour and glossy appearance for the life of the garment.
Computer Cut Vinyls
Cutting out complex shapes with a digital vinyl plotter makes for creative, textured designs and is ideal for adding names and numbers for sports teams. A wide range of colours, metallic, flock & glitter effects can add real impact to your apparel.