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Discussion Starter #1
My friend asked me what's the difference between heat press and print screened.

Here is the response I sent him...and I want to make sure the info I gave him his accurate enough to make a decision on what kind of shirts he wants for his motorcycle club.

"Ok let me see if I can explain the diff between heat pressed and print screen.

With heat pressing you can take any image...like a picture of your bike..or any photograph....or any artwork and it is applied to the shirt using a heat transfer. it lasts about 60-100 washes (or about 2 years) before it starts cracking or fading. It's smooth to the touch. Basically you print out the image..and press it.
I have the machine to do these and can do them for you.

With print screening. They can not put certain images on shirts...like they can't put an actual picture. But they can put letters, words, and graphics up to 3 colors (or more if you have more screens). They use a special fabric paint which goes right into the fabric. It feels like fabric when you touch it.

These last for a couple hundred washes before it starts cracking because it's paint on not a transfer. I don't have the equipment for this because its HUGE and wont' fit in my apartment. Plus costs alot more.
It's little more expensive than heat pressed shirts because takes some time to set up each screen to have the images you need on the shirts. (one color per screen) Mix the paint to apply each color to each shirt and then dry the shirts using a "flash dryer" (or light).

So because heat pressing is cheaper to do - it's easier to do small quantities...Like 1 shirt if I want. But the shirts don't last as long as silk screen shirts.

Silk screen is a little more expensive because it takes alot more time to make each shirt... But silk screens do them in large quantities. The more you buy..they less they will charge you."

 

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Re: I just sent this info to a friend.. Want to make sure I was correct

It's relatively inaccurate, but you're trying to sell a service so I wouldn't particularly worry about it.
 

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Re: I just sent this info to a friend.. Want to make sure I was correct

Wow..I didn't even know that.

What happens if the photo is more than 4 colors?

I wasn't trying to down-play print screening by the way.

I believe that it's superior to any other method
If fact..I hope to save up enough money to buy some equipment one day.

Just not right now... :eek:
 

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As I said, I don't think the inaccuracies really matter too much in this particular case, but in case you do care...

Ken Styles said:
With heat pressing [...] it lasts about 60-100 washes (or about 2 years) before it starts cracking or fading.


I doubt those figures myself (not the 2 years so much as the hundred washes), but I can't say I've tested them.

Ken Styles said:
With print screening.
Screen printing - print screening is when you take a screen capture of what's on a computer monitor.

Ken Styles said:
They can not put certain images on shirts...


You can screen print anything. The only limitation will be the resolution, which is based on the mesh count. That limitation won't stop you from reproducing anything but the finest of lines though.

Ken Styles said:
like they can't put an actual picture.
I assume by "picture" you mean photograph - any graphic is a picture. As idendityburn said you can use four colour process printing to achieve a full colour photo. It's not cheap (or easy), but it can be done and the results are very good if done by a talented professional. Large businesses (Disney kind of large) probably wouldn't bat an eyelid at doing it (I saw a really nice four colour process shirt from Pixar to promote Monsters Inc. for example). I don't know how big a run would need to be to make it cost effective (but Imaginary Foundation do it, so it's definitely achievable).

Ken Styles said:
But they can put letters, words, and graphics up to 3 colors (or more if you have more screens).
As you said, there isn't actually a 3 colour limitation.

From a practical standpoint, the most common t-shirt carousels are 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 station. People will often try and restrict to 4 colours, because it's often considered the last "affordable" price bracket for small to medium runs, and because a lot of people who print at home won't have more than a 4 arm press. Six colours is another common limit, because even some small shops won't have a bigger press than that.

That said, when printing on dark shirts some prints will require an underbase (a layer of white under everything else) to look their best. In that instance you "lose" a colour, so on a 4 arm press you're down to 3 colours, on a 6 you have 5, etc. - that may be where you heard the 3 colour limitation from.

4 colours is probably a more realistic limit to work with (for spot colour), but with process printing there isn't a hard limit as such.


Ken Styles said:
They use a special fabric paint which goes right into the fabric. It feels like fabric when you touch it.
Fabric paint is a little misleading (if it conjures up associates with the fabric paint you'd buy at a craft store anyway), but not a big deal. While plastisol does have a strong bond with the fabric, it still sits on top of it. Water based inks have a much lower profile and generally can't be felt above the fabric. Screen printing inks are different to say dye sublimation though, where the ink forms a gas and actually enters the fibres.

Ken Styles said:
These last for a couple hundred washes before it starts cracking because it's paint on not a transfer.
It's less prone to cracking than a transfer. If it's badly printed (well, badly cured more usually) it might crack after only one or two washes though (something a poorly done transfer and a poorly done screenprint have in common - both need to be done properly to last). Some printers, however, will actually guarantee their printing to outlast the garment (i.e. the shirt will get threadbare, stained, etc. before the print will crack).

Ken Styles said:
I don't have the equipment for this because its HUGE and wont' fit in my apartment. Plus costs alot more.


Yes and no - it's not that huge, and not that expensive, but yes it won't fit in an apartment (although I have known some t-shirt stores to print from apartments, but they were using home kits rather than a press, flash curer, etc.), and yes it is more expensive than heat transfer equipment (heat press is definitely a better option for the apartment dweller, unless you're lucky enough to be able to afford to rent another space). It will fit in a garage or a spare room of a house - what I'm getting at is that it is something that can be done as a home business, both in terms of the space and the monetary investment.


Ken Styles said:
It's little more expensive than heat pressed shirts because takes some time to set up each screen to have the images you need on the shirts. (one color per screen) Mix the paint to apply each color to each shirt and then dry the shirts using a "flash dryer" (or light).


This is true.


Ken Styles said:
So because heat pressing is cheaper to do - it's easier to do small quantities...Like 1 shirt if I want. But the shirts don't last as long as silk screen shirts.


Also true.

If I wanted to screenprint one shirt for myself (or someone else I liked a whole lot ;)) that would definitely be an option, but you wouldn't do it for a customer.


Ken Styles said:
Silk screen is a little more expensive because it takes alot more time to make each shirt... But silk screens do them in large quantities. The more you buy..they less they will charge you."
It doesn't take more time to make each shirt, and it doesn't cost more per shirt.

It costs more and takes longer to do the initial setup - and that time and money needs to be factored into the print run. So if you were doing, say, 10 shirts you'd definitely be right. But an experienced screenprinter can probably output, say, 500 shirts quicker than an experienced heatpresser (is that a noun? :)). For a run that large it would probably be cheaper, quicker, and better quality to use screenprinting. For a small run, this is definitely not the case. Obviously there's a point where it switches over (i.e. at this quantity one is better, but add five more and the other is), but I don't know where that balancing point is.

In some ways the gist of what you were saying was okay, but there are a lot of factual errors in there. You underestimate screenprinting (as I tend to underestimate heat press), but as I said - you're trying to sell a competing service, so that's okay.
 

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Re: I just sent this info to a friend.. Want to make sure I was correct

Ken Styles said:
What happens if the photo is more than 4 colors?
CMYK process printing is the same process as your computer printer (i.e. what you're using to print digital transfers). It uses Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black) inks to simulate every other colour. Generally a combination of laying colours on top of each other to achieve other colours (yellow and blue make green, etc.), and using dot patterns (like in a comic) to fool the eye.

So in other words... no photo is more than four colours.

(technically you'd often throw in a spot colour or three to get things just right, but that's the theory)

When you're printing on fabric it's a great deal more complicated than printing on paper (especially on non-white...), which is why process screenprinting is not as common. It also means what would normally be done automatically by a computer printer needs to be done manually by a human printer.
 

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Forgot to mention...

The above mentioned full colour photos, but I forgot to mention b&w.

If you want to reproduce a black and white photo, it's incredibly easy to get a good result with one screen. Likewise duotones, etc. are very easy.

The first question I'd always ask myself when trying to print a photo is "Does it actually need to be full colour?", because if not life just got a whole lot easier and cheaper ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yeah... ^ those answers above are the reason why I'm learning to really love this site!

I'm learning many new things everyday!

Thanks..I'm going to study this so I know for any future.

oh yeah..."print screen" was a major typo.. (damn dixlexia!)

Ken
 

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I would love to learn screen printing. I can'r even find a dcecent book in the library or the major local book stores unless I order something. The art and craft stores don't even sell equipment.. I retired here from LA. bet I could have found something there.. Oh yes I am in Stockton, Ca
 

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badalou said:
I would love to learn screen printing. I can'r even find a dcecent book in the library or the major local book stores unless I order something. The art and craft stores don't even sell equipment.. I retired here from LA. bet I could have found something there.. Oh yes I am in Stockton, Ca

One place to try is a university book store that has a Fine Art department. Most of the books in typical store (Borders etc) seem to be pre-WWII......

One of the best ways to learn (as I did, and I think several on this forum) is hands on tuition from an old hand...... screen printing in many ways as much of an art as a science, and it's good to be physically guided through.
 

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badalou said:
I would love to learn screen printing.
I agree with monkeylantern that hands on is better if you do want to try it some day - maybe you could take a day course when you're on holidays or something.

badalou said:
I can'r even find a dcecent book in the library or the major local book stores unless I order something. The art and craft stores don't even sell equipment..
If you did want to pursue it, amazon.com has several good books available for under $20, and kits can be ordered online pretty cheaply. While I think it's better to have someone show you (you can often pickup a few useful tips to make things a lot easier), you can still learn from a book. Often kits come with a good book and/or video too.

If you're more just interested in how it's done (just to know), then you could try asking a shop if they'll let you do a couple of days work experience, or you could watch some video tutes online to see how it's done.
 

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badalou said:
I would love to learn screen printing. I can'r even find a dcecent book in the library or the major local book stores unless I order something. The art and craft stores don't even sell equipment.. I retired here from LA. bet I could have found something there.. Oh yes I am in Stockton, Ca
Try this: www.t-helper.com
 

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For folks that might be interested in small silk screens operations google YUDO. Its a printer size silk screening machine for the consumer. It cost about $300.00.
 

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There is a popular misconception that screen printed t-shirts are too labor intensive to make them a viable product in a market dominated by short run orders and specialty garments. As ill conceived as that idea is, it has taken hold of many minds. Let's change them.
 

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One of my long-time customers bought a YUDU "machine" six months ago. Tomorrow, I will print his 4-color design on the back of 12 hoodies that he provided. I will also drop a single color version of the same design on the left chest. Long story short; even if your customers start trying to print their own shirts, they can't. End of storY.
 
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