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I couldnt find a general forum for different printing methods, so i am posting here...

Well, we are in the initial phases of defining whether to join the t-shirt industry by starting to design, print and sell our own t-shirts. We have made some research of the different printing options (sublimation, dtg, screen printing, etc.) however the technicalities still seem a bit unclear to us.

Basically what we are seeking is a printing method that would offer the following:
  • Complex designs combining different colors
  • Printing on different colored t-shirts (dark to light)
  • Printing on cotton
  • Long lasting, durable print
  • Hardly any feel of the print
Based on our research we have not found one single printing technology that would fulfill all the criteria listed above. Is that so?

We would highly appreciate your help and opinions in this matter! :)
 

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Yeah, silkscreening can do all that... you just have to be willing to pay top quality silkscreening companies their prices for those services.

Major companies like Coca-Cola, Warner Bros, WWF, etc... all use silkscreening for their t-shirt products.
 

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You should look for a place that will do the printing for you. Preferably a place that has a DTG printer. Unless you have the money to purchase the machine yourself. The DTG printer is capable of printing good quality photo-realistic images on light and dark cotton t-shirts.

sublimation is costly. The ink is expensive and the tshirts are about three times what you would pay for a cotton shirt. Sublimation will only work on light colored polyester shirts. You would have to sell your shirts pretty expensive to really make a profit. The print quality is incredible though..and you can print photorealistic images or pretty much anything you want. Plus its not messy.

silk screening is cool if you're going to print designs that arent too complex. Setting up is time consuming, laborious and sometimes messy. This is the best method to use if you are going to print many shirts with the same design. Forget printing onesies or samples. I believe there are places that will silk screen for you but they usually require you to order in quantity. This is good if you have a particular design that is selling..but not good if you have ten shirts of a design that wont sell.

I silk screen and do sublimation but I would gladly give all that up for a DTG printer.
 

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silk screening is cool if you're going to print designs that arent too complex. .
I guess thats why Disney, Ed Hardy and all the other large successful shirt sellers have simple designs since they are screen printed shirts. Any complex design can be screen printed if separated corectly. DTG can NOT print bright colors that pop of a dark shirt. Fluorescent colors, glow in the dark, burnout, puff, high density, ect..... must be a non complex method since these are done be screen printing and I've yet to hear of a DTG that can do it.

The true benefit of a DTG is for very low quantites. We have a 5000 shirt order, white on black both sides to start next week and we can print this in less than 10 hours. I wounder how long a DTG would take.
 

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hey studog..sorry for my delayed response to your reply. i only realized today that you left a reply. your right about being able to use silk screening for complex designs. i think maybe you misunderstood what i was trying to say in my comment. after reading it again myself though..i cant blame you. so thanks for bringing it to my attention.

to clear things up...in my comment "silk screening is good if you're not going to print designs that are too complex"...when i said "you're" i was reffering to Alterna. by this i meant that it is probably not a good way for them to go if they have no experience and want to do the printing themselves. i just think it may be too much for them to tackle as newbies. that's why i suggested a good place to start was to find a place that will print the tees for them. after figuring what printing method works best for them then they can go and invest on the printing equipment.

so by no means was i saying that printing complex designs was not possible using silk screens.
 

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I guess thats why Disney, Ed Hardy and all the other large successful shirt sellers have simple designs since they are screen printed shirts. Any complex design can be screen printed if separated corectly. DTG can NOT print bright colors that pop of a dark shirt. Fluorescent colors, glow in the dark, burnout, puff, high density, ect..... must be a non complex method since these are done be screen printing and I've yet to hear of a DTG that can do it.

The true benefit of a DTG is for very low quantites. We have a 5000 shirt order, white on black both sides to start next week and we can print this in less than 10 hours. I wounder how long a DTG would take.

5000 shirts on a dtg, weeks to months probably. I have researched and watched the dtg market very closely the last few years and as a screen printer, I would not consider switching or even adding dtg to our shop "YET". I've been to shows and watched every dtg on the market for hours and really like what they can do overall, but screen printing is way to versitile and productive. I would certainly not give up our screen printing and sublimation abilities for even a two-shirt 100K kornit dtg.

Our artist was interested in seeing the dtg in action so we got on youtube and he turned to me and said, "what the hell would we want to do that for". There is still a long way to go with that technology and maybe one day it will be something we can add to our repertoire.
 

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Thank you! Do you know someone in the DC/NY area?
How complex is the design? Multi-Colors or just really fine lines? Screen printing can do both. But like someone already said, you need to know how to do it right, and have the equipment.

If I had to guess, most people have a 4-6 color machine, manual. There are a number of people out there who have 8 color, 16 color, even 22 color automatic screen printing presses.

I'm in MA, but I know a lot of printers in the area. If you PM me about your design I might be able to recommend someone to you.
 
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