Digital Printing vs. Screen Printing; How Do You Print Your Fabric?

You know that feeling when a certain topic or issue seems to present itself in your life on several occasions over a very short period of time?  And, more often than not, it’s something you haven’t really thought much about until that point, when every time you turn around, there it is again? Well, I currently have that feeling.  The battle of Digital Printing vs. Screen Printing has come up now four times this week.  It’s only Tuesday.  So guess what today’s post is about?

It has been revealed to me that a lot of textile industry newcomers and veterans are not really clear on the benefits and the shortcomings of two processes that are used to create the same thing: Printed Fabrics.  So I have decided to lightly touch upon this issue and hopefully help giver a clearer picture for some of you.  Rather than continue this dialogue in paragraph form and risk the possibility of confusion and boredom I have put together a few key points for your quick reference.

Screen Printing

  • Screens are created using chemicals and light technique. They are then used as stencils for each color of the design.
  • Cost: Screens can run anywhere from $30- $150 each, depending on how intricate the detail.  Tiny, delicate line work can cause the screen charge to elevate.
  • Clear, crisp, clean edges are more easily achieved

Digital Printing

  • The design is scanned into the computer and printed directly on the fabric without any need for screen engraving.
  • Cost: Digital printing makes sense if you have several colors within one design as there are no screen charges.  This can mean huge savings.  However, the actual cost per yard can be double the amount as screen printing. So yo have to do the math.
  • A hazy, ethereal aesthetic is more easily achieved

As I said, these are just a few basic tidbits to help you make a decision when it comes to creating fabrics for your collections.   I have always enjoyed the process of screen printing but that doesn’t mean I haven’t utilized the advantages of digital printing.

How about you?  Which method do you use most often? Tell us why!

Nicole Giordano

Nicole is the founder of StartUp FASHION, an online resource and community supporting for independent designers around the world with building their businesses. A deep love for the craft of fashion paired with an adamant belief that success is defined by the individual, led her to found StartUp FASHION, where she helps independent designers and makers screw the traditional fashion business rules, create their own paths, and build businesses they truly love. More than anything else, she’s in the business of encouragement and works every day to remind makers and designers that they have something special to offer the world and that they can, in fact, do this thing!