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Screen Printing Versus Digital Printing: Know Your Custom T-Shirt Options Before You Buy


Screen Printing Ink

Screen printing is an ancient technology that utilizes high quality, bright, and durable ink.

My own kids are dazzled by those commercials about custom t-shirts all over television. One late afternoon, while viewing one of these commercials, inspiration struck my son. “MOM! I want to go online and design my own t-shirt with TIGER on it!”

Alex, who is nine, harbors obsessions that include Big Cats, Legos, and Minecraft. His Minecraft creations (utilizing Lego-like building blocks in a video game platform) often include Big Cats. Needless to say, I knew I was about to face an uphill battle thanks to that t-shirt commercial.

Being in the promotional products business, my first reaction was, “Child! That company is a competitor! We do not shop there!” And then I realized that they are not. Show Your Logo has minimums on our custom t-shirt orders for a reason. We’ll get to that in a moment.

First, I want to tell you about my experience ordering one t-shirt of Alex’s own design. The kid has Asperger’s syndrome and can be pretty tenacious about certain things. Big Cats is one of those things. Big Cats on t-shirts is one of those things. And, I admit, a light bulb went off in my own head. (Could this…perhaps…be blog fodder?)

We logged into my laptop, typed in the url that had just been screamed at me through the speakers of my television (why do commercials always get louder?), and easily navigated the website to just the right place to design our own t-shirt. With a tiger on it.

It’s a cool site. Alex had a blast choosing his t-shirt color (tangerine), his tiger clip art (filed under something like “mascots,” not “animals,” and his text. We added the word “TIGERS” on the front chest over the image to make it look like a team shirt. Another option was printing his name and a team number on the back. The company also offered to print on the sleeves, but only if you called in. Alex was satisfied with his design on the front of his shirt, however, so we added it to our cart and got the numbers.

And this is how I know that companies that print small runs of t-shirts or logo apparel at a time are not exactly competitors of Show Your Logo. Our shirt, which included free shipping, cost just over $20. The price remained unchanged if I ordered up to ten shirts. Prices did drop, a little, if I ordered a few more. And if I happened to be in a hurry and couldn’t wait a week for my shirts? A 25% surcharge can be added to your order to get the shirts faster.

Here’s the thing. If you desperately need one or two or even five custom imprinted t-shirts, these guys are for you. After that, there’s a definite advantage in getting a quote from Show Your Logo or any other promotional products company that has minimums on their logo apparel.

First of all, there’s volume. We’re constantly ordering t-shirts in large quantities, meaning our suppliers give us awesome deals on all our logo apparel. We pass those savings on to you.

Secondly, there’s the imprint. Companies that print these smaller quantity jobs most often rely on digital printing, which means you’re running a t-shirt through a machine very similar to your ink jet printer at home or in the office. Have you ever watched how slowly a piece of paper runs through an ink jet printer? Yes. Same principle applies here. Digital printing requires longer production times. That costs money. That expense is passed on to you.

Screen printing is an ancient technology in which you basically make a stencil, place it on your apparel, and apply the ink. It’s efficient and affordable and delivers a bright, durable, quality imprint. Ink is absorbed into the fabric of the garment. The fast turnaround related to the screen printing process means those savings are passed on to you.

So why not screen print all shirts if it’s such a fantastic process? The answer lies in the cost of the screen itself. It’s only cost effective to create a screen for higher volume jobs.

But here’s the thing. For the approximate cost of 24 t-shirts at Show Your Logo, I could purchase about six through this company screaming at me through my TV.

Tell me. Would you rather have 24 of something or six of something for approximately the same amount of money?

No brainer? You’re welcome.

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