Types of printing on T-shirts

Whether you need custom t-shirt printing for an event or company, or you’re starting your own custom apparel line, you need to know the characteristics and differences of the different types ff printing on t-shirts.
In the definitive guide we’ve created for you, you’ll discover which types of printing are best suited for certain fabrics. You will also learn which printing technique may be the most suitable for a job that will must many garments.
Another important factor to consider is that the printing method you use is also linked to the number of colors of the design to print. As you can see, there are many variables to consider so it is important to choose the right type of printing.
Although traditional printing techniques are still in use, technology today offers other printing methods that combine heat and pressure. In the end, the technique to use will depend on your needs.
Without further ado, let’s start the tour through this definitive guide to types of t-shirt printing that will help you get better results when printing your designs.

Types Of Printing On T-Shirts

Screen Printing

Screen printing is the most well-known method due to the high-quality results obtained.
This technique uses one frame for each color of ink. The idea is that the ink passes through the mesh to achieve the most perfect finish possible. The ink is then dried for better printing and quality.
This method is ideal for printing a high quantity of t-shirts. The higher the quantity printed, the lower the cost of each t-shirt.
This is due to the cost of the frame. It doesn’t matter if we print 1 or 100 t-shirts, the price of the frames is the same.
Advantages of screen printing
  • Bright and vivid colors
  • Greatest durability
  • Compatible with most fabrics
  • Can produce many T-shirts with the same design at high speed
Disadvantages of screen printing
  • Large space needed to set up work area
  • Limited design selection

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It is a technique that is linked to the talent of the artist. Airbrushing was very popular in the 80’s and 90’s due to the talent and interest of urban artists to print their designs on t-shirts.
The technique consists of using an airbrush and hand-brushing the design onto the fabric.
Unfortunately, airbrushing does not offer long-lasting garments and the quality of the print is determined by the skill of the artist.
Advantages of airbrushing
  • Provides unique and dynamic designs
Disadvantages of airbrushing
  • Ink is not very durable on garments
  • The quality of the print is determined by the talent of the artist.

Heat transfer vinyl

There are different heat transfer printing techniques; and in this guide we will look at all types of printing on t-shirts. One of them is vinyl heat transfer. In this technique, we use heat to melt the glue that is in a design to fix it to the fabric.
The benefit of this technique is that it is inexpensive for small quantities. But, unlike screen printing, it does not reduce your cost if you increase your production of t-shirts.
Another benefit of heat transfer printing is that it works on different materials and fabrics. Also, it makes almost no mess in the workspace and needs minimal maintenance compared to other methods.
Advantages of vinyl heat transfer
  • Ideal for a few prints
  • Compatible with various fabrics and materials
Disadvantages of Vinyl Heat Transfer
  • Design fractures and cracks over time
  • Does not reduce costs on a large scale


Another technique that uses heat is sublimation. But, unlike vinyl heat transfer, sublimation finishing is very different.
Sublimation printing works with dye-based ink that turns into a gas when heated. The pressure and heat cause the inks to change from a solid state to a gaseous state and then back to solid.
A very important aspect of this method is that the fabric must contain some polyester component.
To achieve an optimal print, it is necessary to use T-shirts with at least 70% polyester and 30% cotton and light color, otherwise, the print may fade.
The garment needs to be polyester because the gas binds to the polyester, forming part of the material and not a layer on top of it.
Advantages of sublimation
  • Greatest durability
  • Prints will not crack or deteriorate
  • Soft to the touch
Disadvantages of sublimation
  • Only works on polyester-based T-shirts
  • This technique is not cheap


Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing involves printing high-quality, full-color designs onto a T-shirt. This technique is best suited for complex designs for other techniques such as screen printing.
You could say that this technique is like inkjet printing, but instead of printing on paper, it prints on cotton. It is ideal for printing from one to five t-shirts, although, compared to screen printing, the cost is higher.
Advantages of DTG
  • Print as many colors as you want
  • Low set-up time (you can print a t-shirt in less than 30 minutes)
  • DTG printing machines are not that big
Disadvantages of DTG
  • DTG printers work best with 100% cotton t-shirts
  • The cost of DTG printers
  • Colors tend to fade over time
  • DTG printer maintenance


It is not a printing method as such but it is also part of the custom t-shirt world. Embroidery is an expensive method and due to other more affordable options, it has lost popularity in recent years. But, it helps to preserve the details of the design and is durable.
One of its big disadvantages is that it can be uncomfortable to wear embroidered garments due to the contact of the thread with the skin.
Despite all this, embroidery is the most suitable customization system to achieve a serious and professional image in the garments of a company or business. Ideal for displaying logos, slogans or corporate material.
Advantages of embroidery
  • Greatest durability
  • Serious and professional image
Disadvantages of embroidery
  • High cost per design
  • Production time

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Ros T-Shirt

The definitive guide to the types of printing on t-shirts is about to come to an end, what did you think?

At R.O.S T-Shirts we have a great history of working with companies and helping them expand their brand message, as well as generating greater publicity via printed apparel and promotional merchandise.

Our experience combined with the ideal printing techniques and an extensive high-quality product catalog makes us able to turn your ideas into fantastic printed accessories.

Whether you need printed t-shirts, embroidered polo shirts, personalized sweatshirts or promotional merchandise, at R.O.S T-Shirts we are here to take your ideas from concept to reality and help grow your business.