Digital printing, also called desktop publishing or computer-to-plate, uses digital technology to produce a wide range of items (a digital process of printing from a computer onto paper, card stock, vinyl, and fabric). It is different from traditional screen printing because it doesn’t use a screen. Instead, the printer prints directly onto the substrate. Digital printers are typically used for short-run jobs and jobs requiring high-quality and fast-turnaround time. They are also used for custom jobs printed in large quantities.
On the other hand, screen printing is a type of printmaking technique where ink is pushed through an etched or perforated metal screen onto paper or another material, such as cloth, to create an image on the opposite side of the screen. Screen printing can be done at home or in professional print shops with basic equipment and some practice. The process for screen printing includes preparation, inking, and pressing the material onto the screen and then transferring it to the substrate.
Digital Vs. Screen – Which One Is Right For You?
The digital printing process is faster and uses fewer materials than screen printing. Digital prints are also more affordable and can be created on various substrates, not just paper. However, since the printer prints directly onto the substrate, the ink will be transferred onto the substrate and off it, leaving only an impression that can be easily removed. Digital printers can use multiple techniques such as digital color separation; software control of the process, computer-generated design files; and pre-manufactured materials. In digital printing, the applied ink is thinner, and thus it’s best used on light-colored shirts as it will allow the design to show through more effectively.
Screen printing is used on various substrates, including paper, metal, cloth, and more. It can be done by hand or with a machine. Screen printing can also be done with a stencil; some ink must first be applied to the substrate to stick. Screen printing is usually used for large, high-quality prints. Since it can be done with a machine, it’s often the process of choice when large quantities of prints are needed. Screen printing has been around for centuries and used for many purposes, like posters, maps, and even T-shirts. It was one of the first ways to mass-produce images.
Digital printing is the most popular way of mass-producing images because it is cheaper than screen printing. Screen printing’s inks are applied thicker than digital printing. This increases the vibrancy of the colors on darker shirts. As these products are printed by hand, there’s room for creativity, like printing water bottles, can coolers, cups, and other uneven surfaces.
The two types of printing are different in many ways, as described above. The choice of which is best depends on what you need it for or what you intend to do. Never rush to decide this as you might make the wrong choice. Always engage a specialist for the best advice.