Hmmm… A difficult question to answer? I’d guess that a quick straw poll would almost unanimously turn up a “No” verdict, but let’s see how we get on…

Before we bgein, if you haven’t already, reading my Why being a Web Developer is interesting… post may help provide a little context as this post broadly follows on from that one.

Printed T-Shirts?

I recently completed a website design for a Lancaster company, that specialises in printed and embroidered clothing in Lancaster, Morecambe, Heysham, Kendal and surrounding areas.

Whilst putting their site together, I was plunged into the heady world of printing on t-shirts, as well as bags, other clothing, ceramics, jigsaws and even cheese boards!!

Now let’s be clear, this is not the cheap shoddy t-shirt printing you used to get on Blackpool and Morecambe sea-fronts, which lasted all of three washes before flaking off.

Modern printing is of high quality, lasts wash after wash and some types can withstand temperatures of up to 80°C.

“Some types?”, do I hear you say? Ah yes, for as I now know, there are several methods of printing available dependent on your needs. The four I learnt about were screen printing, transfer printing, decorative film printing and sublimation.

For screen printing and sublimation, I’d suggest you follow the relavent links through to Wikipedia for a much better technical explanation than I could muster.

Transfer Printing

With transfer printing images are printed via a computer or scan onto a high quality transfer sheet. This is then heat-pressed onto the garment to produce a lasting print.

Prints can include full photographic images or any other design and can be applied to both light and dark garments.

Used for a single items upwards, this method is ideal for things like personalised gifts and photos on stag and hen party t-shirts.

Note, you can buy cheap kit versions of these for your home printer at PC World and the like, but I can tell you from experience that they don’t last and will quickly leave you with an unwearable t-shirt with a murky flaky picture in the middle of it.

Decorative Film Printing

This method is used for logos and text, such as individual names and numbers. Lettering is cut out from the decorative film and applied to the garment in up to 3 layers, allowing for a combination of colours and styles.

True to its name, the decorative film itself comes in a wide variety of colours and styles, such as flock, glitter, sparkle, leopard print and other special effects.

Ideal for names and numbers on personalised teamwear and sportswear such as football shirts and for company names on printed workwear.

Screen Printing

Designs for this method are completed on a computer and printed straight to the garment using silk screen printing.

Typically, this is used for volumes of 25+ identical garments and so is ideal for things like marketing promotions and giveaways.

Sublimation

Used for high quality full colour photographic images from a single item to large numbers, sublimation is ideal for white (only) clothing, as well as promotional items and personalised gifts such as mugs and mouse-mats.

In Conclusion…

Bored? Well, you can’t win them all. You probably won’t enjoy my forthcoming post on embroidery either!

Interested? Know of any other methods that I haven’t included? Why not post them below and help celebrate the interesting world of printing.

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