Which is Better, Silkscreen or Digital Print?

May 23, 2022 3 min read

When it comes to print design, the question of 'Which is better, screen printing or digital print?' may be one of the most common ones. In this article, we will explore the benefits and disadvantages of both printing techniques, as well as their labor and cost-intensiveness. Screen printing is the more cost-effective option for print design production, particularly for bulk orders.

Silkscreen Or Digital Print


Silkscreen and digital printing are two types of textile printing that each have their advantages and disadvantages. Both use a screen to push ink through a mesh screen, typically silk. This process is the oldest and most common form of screen printing, and was used by artists thousands of years ago. Modern commercial screen printers use polyester mesh screens and viscous plastisol inks.

Screenprinting is an ancient technique that first came about in Japan, where artists created simple stencils on fabric using human hair. Screen-printing spread through Asia and India, and artists in France began using silk screens during the 17th century. Ultimately, the two methods became synonymous. Silkscreen printing was the first method to make prints on any type of fabric, including leather.

Screen Printing vs. Digital Printing

Screen printing is a popular choice for small-run projects, but it has a few disadvantages. Screen printing requires more manpower and preparation than digital printing, and the output is less accurate. Digital printing is also more expensive than screen printing, and you have to pay more for ink and paper. However, screen printing has its benefits, too. The two techniques are comparable in many ways. Read on to learn more about the pros and cons of each.

The main difference between screen and digital-printed products is the process used. In screen-printing, the image is turned into a stencil and placed on a fabric screen. The inkjet printer then swipes the ink across the screen to transfer the image onto the product. In contrast, digital printing doesn't require screens. Digital printing is easier to customize, requires fewer setups, and is more flexible.

Labor-Intensiveness of Screen Printing vs. Digital Printing

The most notable difference between digital and screen printing is the cost. With a lower labor-intensiveness, digital printing is more expensive. While screen printing uses a screen to produce the image, it is a much more labor-intensive process. Digital printing uses no screens, making it more suitable for light-colored materials. A digital printer is ideal for printing small and medium-volume orders. Because digital printing uses no screens, it produces crisp, clear images and is better suited for small to medium-sized runs.

While digital printing requires no setup time, screen printing requires several steps. Screens must be made, exposed to film, cleaned, and reused. The screen-printing process requires a high volume of shirts to break even. Unlike digital printing, screen printing costs more than double when done by an inexperienced or amateur printer. The difference is due to the cost of printing multiple colors on one shirt.

Cost of Screen Printing vs. Digital Printing


The cost of screen printing vs digital printing is a question of personal choice. You may have a larger quantity of orders and would like to get these finished on a smaller scale. Digital printing is a good choice for smaller orders but if you need a high-quality finish, screen printing is your best option. The biggest advantage of digital printing over screen printing is speed, which is great if you need large amounts of prints done quickly.

Generally speaking, screen printing is cheaper than digital printing, but it also has its drawbacks. For example, it requires an underbase layer of ink on the print surface and must be pre-treated. Screen printing also cannot print on active-wear clothing and polyester. It requires a poly-blend with at least 80% cotton, which limits its use. In addition to being less expensive, screen printing can also be less sustainable because it consumes a lot of water and the ink used for screen printing does not degrade.



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