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What Is the best T-shirt transfer printing technology?


As a distributor, facing the dazzling array of transfer technology on the market. How to choose the best T-shirt transfer technology may be the question you have been confused about.

First of all, you have to fully understand what T-shirt transfer technologies are available, their characteristics and their scope of application. Then select the most suitable T-shirt transfer technology for your own factory based on your own factory size, product needs and budget.

This article will tail about different types of T-shirt transfer technologies and analyze these technologies to help you make choices.

Different Kinds of T-Shirt Transfer Methods and Their Pros and Cons

At present, there are three main T-shirt transfer technologies in the market, screen printing, DTG printing, and Heat transfer technology. In particular, heat transfer technology is a broad definition that can be subdivided.

Airbrushing, Discharge Printing, Stenciling, these niche T-shirt transfer technologies are more popular among artists. But professional printing factories may not choose them.

So, let’s take a look at these mainstream T-shirt transfer technologies.

Screen Printing

The screen printing method is ideal for printing high-quality t-shirt designs.

For this method to work, you will need a stencil, and a nylon mesh. You set up the stencil, which is held by the nylon mesh. A water proof material will block the negative space that you want to design. The negative space is the only part permeable for the dye. Ink is then flooded into the screen.

Screen printing is one of the traditional transfer methods. It has many advantages.

Screen printing ink gets absorbed deeply, giving you vivid colors and maximum durability.

Once set up, you can produce hundreds of t-shirts with the same design at a blazing fast speed.

It is compatible with most fabrics when you use the right mix of inks and screens for the fabric you will be working on.

Of course, he has certain requirements for the size and quality of the production space.

DTG Printing

DTG is direct to garment printing. You may also occasionally see this method called DTF, or direct to fabric printing.

It works like a special printer ,applying a thin ink directly to the fabric of a t-shirt. This means that you can easily create any design that you could print onto paper. That’s is to say,it is excellent for printing out complex design. 

Since the ink is immersed into the fabric, the surface of pattern is soft without an adhesive layer.

In addition, DTG has the advantages of short printing time and small machine footprint.

However, DTG prints more vivid patterns on fabrics with higher cotton content. Therefore, DTG is suitable for printing on cotton T-shirts. Meanwhile, patterns also fade over time.

DTG equipment is expensive, requires frequent maintenance, and has requirements on the user’s budget.

Heat Transfer Printing Technology

Heat Transfer Printing is a broad term for several T-shirt printing methods which make use of a heat transfer medium and high heat to get the job done.

Put simply, an image of the design artwork is printed on one side of the heat transfer medium, and subsequently, heat pressed onto the T-shirt with a Heat Transfer Machine.

The basic component of this shirt printing is transfer paper. Once the design is printed on this sheet of paper, you can apply heat and pressure to replicate it on the shirt. Then, you just remove the transfer paper and remove the excess dye.

Sublimation Printing

Sublimation transfer printing is to use an inkjet printer equipped with sublimation ink to print the image on the sublimation paper in a mirror image manner, and then heat it to about 200 ° C to the T-shirt.

If you want to print an entire shirt, this is one the best types of T-shirt printing. Remember that you need fabric with more than 30% polyethylene for this process.

This is also good if you have a very unique multi-color design. At the same time, the pattern has a good preservation performance. 

Plastisol Transfer Printing

This method is similar to screen printing. The difference is that the artist applies the ink to the plastisol transfer paper instead of directly onto the fabric. The transfer paper is then heated and pressed onto the T-shirt.

Advantages of this approach include a high-quality, durable design.

Send designs to third parties who can easily mass-produce designs on plastisol sheets. Then,You just do the digital graphic design and use the heat to apply the plastisol sheet to the shirt.

However, this method requires skilled workers. Workers may need to run a few times to learn the proper pressure/temperature required for this new technology. If done incorrectly, the design will crack and peel off later.

Also, this method works for small orders but not for bulk orders.

Heat Transfer Vinyl Printing

Heat Transfer Vinyl printing uses a machine to cut designs and letters on colorful vinyl sheets. Then use a heat press to transfer each vinyl onto a t-shirt.

The main focus here is the cutting process. Unlike previous methods, this method involves very precise material cutting.

This t-shirt printing technique is most commonly used for printing the numbers, names, and logos onto vinyl material and then heat pressing them on sports t-shirts or jerseys. The process is pretty fast and simple.

As with most of the previously mentioned methods, you do need special equipment for printing. In this case, it’s the professional CAD cutter which is used to make all of the patterns.

The downside to using HTV is that it does not work well for mass orders because you have to cut out the HTV repeatedly for each shirt. You also can’t use HTV on a heat-sensitive fabric because you need to use a heat press to activate the adhesive on the vinyl.

How to Choose the Best T-Shirt Transfer Technology

Now, we have seen the different t-shirt transfer techniques. Obviously, every technology has its uses. All you need to do is to recognize your needs and choose the appropriate technology.

As shown in the figure, each of these T-shirt transfer technologies has its own characteristics.

It is especially important to note that if you has mess orders, then it is recommended that you do not choose Vinyl Printing. You can choose other transfer technologies according to your other needs.

If you need to transfer complex patterns, then DTG printing and sublimation printing are good choices.

DTG, Sublimation and Screen Printing require a sufficient budget.


Choice outweighs effort. Before making a choice, you must understand the various T-shirt transfer techniques. Choose the technology that best suits your product needs. Maximize benefits while meeting customer needs.

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