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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys,

What's the difference between screenprinting and plastisol transfers? And does anyone know if one works better on 50/50 cotton poly blends than the other?
 

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I don't know too much about transfers, but they're essentially the same. I believe that you just screen print the ink straight to the transfer to make the plastisol transfers. This would allow you to easily screen print hundreds of transfers, and then you could sell them individually or press them as orders come in. Is this correct?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
But if I'm looking to outsource my printing method, would plastisol transfers be less expensive or is their main benefit that you can make many transfer papers?
 

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I've never used or printed transfers, but I'd have to guess it's more of a convenience thing. Personally, I would charge the same to print the transfers as I would the shirt, except subbing out the price of the shirt for the price of paper (a few cents a sheet I'd imagine).

But, if you're selling fashion t's, it will keep costs down on inventory. You wont need to stock 100 of the same design in red, blue, black, etc. Just a stack of transfers, and press as you go.

Depends what you're doing I guess.
 

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As Dann said...the main benefit is that it allows you to minimize your inventory. You can stock a certain number of transfers with your design and place them on the color / size / style of garment needed as they are ordered.
 

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Screen printing is great if you have the time and patience, Designing the artwork, preparing and burning your screens, aligning screens and shirts, flashing the shirts (multi-color), pulling and running through dryer. I'm getting exhausted thinking about it. With plastisol transfers from a good manufacturer is like having a full staff at your disposal and only paying them when you need them. The best part is to be able to print multiple designs on the same sheet, for front, back, and a cap. This makes upsaleing a sinch. Increasing profit margins without adding costs.
 

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Great Points. I just want to say as mentioned before, it mainly depends on what you are trying to do. Every printing technique has it's time, use, and certain methods of acheiving great quality prints. I would say if you are trying to sell your own clothing, then you might want to go with plastisol transfers because you will be able to stock the transfers and print as you make sales, as stated.

If you are trying to sell wholesale shirts to clients (orders of 100, 500, or 1,000 shirts) then it's wiser to screen print them all at once. What is it exactly that you are trying to achieve, so that we may offer better advice?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hey thanks everybody for all the help! And what I'm trying to do is sell shirts on the internet with my designs on them. Basically I will just be coming up with the ideas for designs and running the business aspect of it because I couldn't draw if my life depended on it ( so I'll be hiring a designer), and subcontracting a printing service.

So are you all saying that there are people who I could hire to simply press the designs on my shirts (after the screenprinter creates the transfers of course)? Because that sounds like that would be the case with plastisol transfers.

After realizing that DTG might not be the best for me, I was going to go with screenprinting, but I do not need all that inventory chilling in my dorm room....:D
 

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If you are living in a dorm room and trying to do this, I suggest just having a company print the shirts and sell them to you wholesale, or buy a heat press and get your transfers printed for you and sent to you.

screen printing in your situation doesn't seem like a very good idea, because there's a lot of cleaning, equipment, and supplies involved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well I'm not actually looking to do the printing myself, I may in the future, but I just feel like I wouldn't have time now so I was going to subcontract. Are there people I could hire who soley do heat presses?
 

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Every printing technique has it's time, use, and certain methods of acheiving great quality prints.
This is an excellent..and often overlooked...point in my opinion.

There really isn't any "best" method overall...it really depends on what you are trying to accomplish. :)
 

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Well I'm not actually looking to do the printing myself, I may in the future, but I just feel like I wouldn't have time now so I was going to subcontract. Are there people I could hire who soley do heat presses?
Absolutely! I'm sure you could find some folks here on the forum by posting a request in the referrals section for somebody to do the heatpressing for you. Or, perhaps, to keep it local you can find somebody near you that has a heat press that would be willing to do it.
 

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Yea search the threads for custom transfers, custom plastisol transfers, or something like that. I know I 've seen some posts around here about it. If you are planning to order a large quantity, I'd say go with screen printing, though I'm not familiar enough of how much of a price break you get on custom transfers.
 

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There really isn't any "best" method overall...it really depends on what you are trying to accomplish. :)
That's just something people stuck with the low-end methods tell themselves :D

The best method will not always be the same (although it is most of the time), but there are some that will never be the best method.

In other words, not every printing technique has it's time, and some methods will never achieve great quality prints.

There's a lot of nicey nicey everything has its place stuff said around here to protect people's feelings and avoid disagreements - but that doesn't make it true, and it won't protect their wallets if they make a poor decision after believing what they read (one of the reasons so many businesses fail is willful delusion, and misinformation).
 

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That's just something people stuck with the low-end methods tell themselves :D

The best method will not always be the same (although it is most of the time), but there are some that will never be the best method.

In other words, not every printing technique has it's time, and some methods will never achieve great quality prints.

There's a lot of nicey nicey everything has its place stuff said around here to protect people's feelings and avoid disagreements - but that doesn't make it true, and it won't protect their wallets if they make a poor decision after believing what they read (one of the reasons so many businesses fail is willful delusion, and misinformation).
I sort of disagree with you. Though I understand what you're saying, I think that every printing technique does have it's time and place. The reason why I say this, is because you are right that some techniques will never achieve the best print quality, but when talking on the forum, you have to take into consideration the people you are talking to. Some of us are corporate entities with multiple employees, some us are small shops with a couple of employees, some of us are one person in their garage, and some of us are teenagers looking how to make their break at a young age.

Your points hold very true when you take away money, capital, and items like that. When you consider the best equipment for every job, automated screen presses, high end plotters and cutters, the best printers, etc, then there will only be a couple of the best methods to choose from. But some of us are trying to make this work with the budgets that we have. If on my budget it's cheaper to get a plotter and make shirts with vinyl, then that is best for me because I can't afford to buy equipment for custom plastisols, or find the time to learn process screen printing.

That's just something people stuck with the low-end methods tell themselves :D
This is a very true statement, but you gotta realize that maybe 50% or more of this forum are people on low budgets. :)
 

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I think that every printing technique does have it's time and place. The reason why I say this, is because you are right that some techniques will never achieve the best print quality, but when talking on the forum, you have to take into consideration the people you are talking to. [...] Your points hold very true when you take away money, capital, and items like that.
I think the problem is sometimes people get so caught up in producing something, that they take the option of not doing it off the table. Sometimes if you can't afford to do something, that means you just can't do it.

I've seen the frustration of members who've dived headlong into digital transfers (because it's cheap and the first person to reply to their thread said they should), only to find that their target audience isn't going to touch their product. They blame everyone but themselves for not doing research.

Over the years I've watched as forum members start out at the bottom, defending whatever poor quality method of the moment they're using, until they move on to the next one. Then suddenly they have more perspective and act as if they never liked the previous methods - the ones they were outright recommending to newbies and defending against, well, me. All roads lead to Rome, and inevitably just about everyone who owns a heat press will eventually end up buying plastisol transfers. This is a tacit acknowledgement of the inadequacy of other available options. But watch as poor choices perpetuate, because excitement beats common sense nine times out of ten.

Why is everyone so desperate to do everything themselves anyway? Why is that another thing immediately taken off the table? If you don't have the resources (financial or otherwise) to produce what you need, you can outsource it to someone who does (that's probably 90+% of plastisol transfers for example). Or start a different business. This isn't the only game in town.

But some of us are trying to make this work with the budgets that we have. If on my budget it's cheaper to get a plotter and make shirts with vinyl, then that is best for me because I can't afford to buy equipment for custom plastisols, or find the time to learn process screen printing.
I also think people overestimate the cost of screenprinting. For example, for the cost of a vinyl plotter and a heat press you could setup a small screenprinting shop. If your budget can do one, it can do the other. I'm not saying that it's necessarily preferable or what you should do, but it is possible. But Vinyl sometimes is the best thing for the job, so that depends what you want to do.

Digital transfers, vinyl, dye sublimation, dtg, etc. all requires (somewhat) expensive equipment (a heat press at the minimum). You can, with some effort, actually screenprint a shirt with less than $100 of equipment. The only thing cheaper is a store bought iron-on transfer.
 

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I don't think a persons budget and quality are even related. If you want to produce a quality garment you must buy good equipment.If you can't afford to buy the equipment , then pay someone else to produce it for untill you build up your money to invest. Inkjet and plastisol/screenprint are apples and oranges. You can squeeze both, but they will nevr taste or look the same. I always say you get what you pay for. ..... JB
 

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I think the problem is sometimes people get so caught up in producing something, that they take the option of not doing it off the table. Sometimes if you can't afford to do something, that means you just can't do it.
I refuse to take this outlook, because I want to better my life and myself, therefore not doing something I so truly love to do is not an option for me.

I've seen the frustration of members who've dived headlong into digital transfers (because it's cheap and the first person to reply to their thread said they should), only to find that their target audience isn't going to touch their product. They blame everyone but themselves for not doing research.
I definently agree, but this is just human behavior, trial and error. You gotta learn yourself what you can and can't do, no matter how many people try and tell you.

Why is everyone so desperate to do everything themselves anyway? Why is that another thing immediately taken off the table? If you don't have the resources (financial or otherwise) to produce what you need, you can outsource it to someone who does (that's probably 90+% of plastisol transfers for example). Or start a different business. This isn't the only game in town.
I totally agree with you. I think a lot of people, like myself, don't really grasp the concept of outsourcing. I have done research now to know how the process works, but I was timid at first in thinking that I could still make money while having other people piece together my work. I would say the answer is just plain inexperience, but you gotta start somewhere.

I also think people overestimate the cost of screenprinting. For example, for the cost of a vinyl plotter and a heat press you could setup a small screenprinting shop. If your budget can do one, it can do the other. I'm not saying that it's necessarily preferable or what you should do, but it is possible. But Vinyl sometimes is the best thing for the job, so that depends what you want to do.
Though it may cost the same to buy the same equipment, there are a ton of other variables you have to take into account, such as the time that it takes to learn the new process and how long it actually takes you to do a whole order from beginning to end. Financially speaking, I think screen printing seems to take a lot longer to learn and it requires more work time when you calculate tensioning the screens, applying emulsion, burning the screens, mixing ink, cleaning the screens, and so on.

At the end of your sentence you said though that vinyl might be the best thing for the job, which just reiterates the statement that every printing method has it's time and place. Though it might take me less time to knock out some vinyl shirts, my clients might not want that look and feel.

Digital transfers, vinyl, dye sublimation, dtg, etc. all requires (somewhat) expensive equipment (a heat press at the minimum). You can, with some effort, actually screenprint a shirt with less than $100 of equipment. The only thing cheaper is a store bought iron-on transfer.
If you can show me how to make a press, make an exposure unit, buy yellow lights, squeegees, inks, emulsion, emulsion remover, stencil remover, spray adhesive, build a flash unit, build a heater, buy soft hand base, mesh, glue, frames, and everything else for under $100 and still produce the quality of a plastisol transfer, I sure would like to know, because I'm obviously doing something wrong. lol.

But seriously, let's get back to the point at hand. Taking away the financial problems and everything stated, my original point was that if you are selling 100s of your t-shirts a day, you might want to go with screen printing. If you are just selling 1 or 2 a week, plastisol transfers might be your better option.

Of the two, do you have a preference?
 

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I refuse to take this outlook, because I want to better my life and myself, therefore not doing something I so truly love to do is not an option for me.
I'm not suggesting people give up on having a better life or working for themselves. But it would be crazy to try something that won't work, just because you really really want it to work. I want to be able to fly but I'm not about to jump off a cliff. Absolutely refusing to quit no matter what is why people end up bankrupt and destitute.

Though it may cost the same to buy the same equipment, there are a ton of other variables you have to take into account, such as the time that it takes to learn the new process and how long it actually takes you to do a whole order from beginning to end. Financially speaking, I think screen printing seems to take a lot longer to learn and it requires more work time when you calculate tensioning the screens, applying emulsion, burning the screens, mixing ink, cleaning the screens, and so on.
I rarely see anyone who knows how to screenprint talk about the difficulty of learning to screenprint - mostly the only people talking about how difficult it is to learn are those who haven't actually done it (or occasionally the self-taught). It's actually really, really easy. The more advanced methods (e.g. process printing) are definitely difficult, but they're hardly vital to creative or financial success.

Undeniably it takes longer to learn to screenprint than to apply a heat transfer, but we're talking a few minutes versus a few days.

If you can show me how to make a press, make an exposure unit, buy yellow lights, squeegees, inks, emulsion, emulsion remover, stencil remover, spray adhesive, build a flash unit, build a heater, buy soft hand base, mesh, glue, frames, and everything else for under $100 and still produce the quality of a plastisol transfer, I sure would like to know, because I'm obviously doing something wrong. lol.
This is exactly what I'm talking about - people getting ahead of themselves. You don't need most of that stuff just to print a t-shirt, and you don't even need some of that to run a full-time business.

The bare minimum you need to screenprint a shirt is: a squeegee, a screen, stiff paper, a blade, ink, a t-shirt, an iron. That's it. If you want to use a proper emulsion based stencil, the minimum is: a squeegee, a screen, ink, a t-shirt, an iron, a phone number, $40.

I'm not seriously suggesting that would make you a competitive business. My point is only that people get so carried away in equipment acquisition that they don't realise how little it actually takes to screenprint a t-shirt. You need some equipment to be professional, but you don't have to buy all the coolest toys. For some reason people want to make it complicated for themselves.

my original point was that if you are selling 100s of your t-shirts a day, you might want to go with screen printing. If you are just selling 1 or 2 a week, plastisol transfers or might your better option.

Of the two, do you have a preference?
I'd say if you're only selling 1 or 2 a week there are two options, 1) Quit, because you're failing, 2) Ride it out, because success hasn't come yet. Either way, for now the business is in failure mode. Print method doesn't make much difference at that point - plastisol transfers aren't the solution to failure.

I think plastisol transfers can be a sensible option. They're particularly good for sign shops that bought a heat press to expand into t-shirts, and now want to expand beyond vinyl as well.

What I don't think makes sense, is the way people come to this forum and leave deciding to buy a heat press only to do plastisol transfers. That makes sense for some people, but most would be better off either cutting out the middle step (actually screenprint) or outsourcing production.

There's something inherently illogical about plastisol transfers, and unless they address a specific problem you're having (which they can), they don't make much sense.
 

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Very good points. I definently agree that if you are selling a good number of t-shirts, then you might as well just screen print and take out the middle man. Because as you have stated, the time it does take you to learn and screen print is going to be outweighed by how much money you save when you do start producing t-shirts.

It seems to me that it would be just easier for someone to buy a heat press, get some custom plastisol transfers made, and start selling immediately, rather than gonig through the motions of making a screen and printing it on a shirt, even on the account of using the bare minimums. I guess what you are saying is that this changes when you are in this for the business, and plan on selling a number of t-shirts, because why not just buy the screen printing equipment, correct?
 
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