Screen Printing vs. Digital Printing: Which Way to Go?

custom t shirts screen printingOne of the most frequent questions we receive is, “which technique is better for custom t-shirt printing – screen or digital printing?” Fact is, both the processes are widely used for printing custom t-shirts, and ideal way depends on a number of factors, including the fabric, color, and design to be printed. If you too are debating the pros and cons of screen vs. digital printing, this post is for you. This brief read discusses the pros and cons of the screen and digital printing techniques to help you make an informed decision.

Screen Printing

Screen printing has been around since the beginning of the 20th century when it was first patented by England-based Samuel Simon Matthew Atere-Roberts. Since then, the technique has evolved into a widely practiced technique for printing custom t-shirt needs. It is a multistep process that starts with designing the artwork, burning the design to fine mesh screen, and preparing the inks that are required for the print. In short, screen printing is a technique in which a screen/mesh is used to transfer ink onto a surface except for the areas that are made impermeable to the ink by using a blocking stencil.


  • Cost-effective for large batches
  • Versatile design placement
  • Premium printing quality
  • Easy to print large prints
  • Highly durable
  • Can print multiple batches of custom t-shirts at a time
  • Offer vast print area
  • Appealing to eyes
  • Good for printing on vast range of items


  • Large set-up costs
  • A little expensive for small orders
  • May result in thicker finishes when done by inexperienced designers
  • Doesn’t support detailed design placement

Digital/Direct-to-Garment Printing

Digital printing is an advanced printing technique in which the design is directly printed on a substrate. In this type of printing, designs from desktop and other digital sources are printed using large-format or high-volume laser or inkjet printers. Many consider digital printing a lot easier than screen printing as all that it requires is downloading a design on the computer, printing it out through printer and heat press it on the desired substrate.


  • Cost-effective for small orders
  • Unlike screen printing, the design doesn’t felt on the t0shirt and lay flat on the tee
  • Easy to personalize
  • Support detailed printing
  • Much cleaner printing process as compared to screen printing


  • Colors are limited to printing capabilities
  • Prints only one item at a time
  • Expensive for large batches
  • Print area is limited to printer setup
  • Ink is expensive
  • Print time is longer
  • Good for fabric printing


Regardless of the type of printing technique you choose for your custom t-shirt printing need, make sure that you go for a high quality fabric. If you are looking to order custom t-shirts, ThriftyThreads is here to help. We are a licensed distributor of Gildan cotton t-shirts – name synonymous with premium quality and reasonable pricing In addition, we also carry various other brands, including Hanes, anvil, and American Apparel, among others. Our screen printing experts provide free help in customizing your personalized gildan t-shirts from a simple creative idea. To request a no-obligation quote, click Quote form.

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