Published on May 27th, 2018 | by Guest


Top 5 Custom T-shirt Printing Systems in 2018

Designs and prints can help to perk up a plain t-shirt. Putting up a customized print further adds a personal touch to your t-shirt. The trend of custom t-shirts began in the early 1950s when several companies in Miami and Florida started producing t-shirts with the names of local resorts to attract the attention of tourists. Today, it serves as a means of personal expression through which people can wear eye-grabbing t-shirts featuring a wide variety of subjects from politics and religion to sports, culture and almost anything the wearer desires!

T-shirt printing can be done in a number of ways. Some of the popular methods are discussed below:

1. Heat Transfer Printing

Source: Printsome

The idea behind this technique is to permanently transfer a design from one surface to the other. In this method, a design is created using a software or a graphics application. The design is then printed on a transfer paper with carefully selected dyes. It is then pressed unto the t-shirt using a heat press machine that applies both heat and pressure. The heat transfer machine applies pressure which holds the t-shirt in place and the heat allows the color pigments to be transferred from the transfer paper to the t-shirt. It literally melts the image onto the fabric. It is advisable to make use of high-quality transfer paper as it won’t fade, bleed or peel and hence can give a high-quality finish.


1. Suitable for printing in small batches in a variety of colors and in vibrant designs.

2. Simple, economical and time-saving.


1. Printing with multiple layered colors and intricate details can become labor intensive.

2. Can affect fabric flexibility as prints are stiff which can make the fabric firm.

2. Screen Printing

Source: Medium

Also known as a silk screening, this is one of the most preferred printing methods. In this method, a template is created which is held in place using a screen made up of nylon mesh. Ink is poured onto the screen and then spread and pressed using a squilgee. The liquid only transfers to the areas the screen permits, through cutouts, allowing for great design potential. Excess ink is wiped away and the screen is taken off. Finally, each piece is run through a large dryer to cure and dry. Screen printing is available in both manual and automated versions.


1. It enables versatility in fabric choices and can be used for printing in large quantities.

2. Designs printed with this method can withstand greater stress as compared to other methods.


1. Requires a new screen with every printing, so it is not cost-effective.

2. Pre-preparation is needed before production so it is not ideal for “on-demand” printing.

3. Direct to Garment Printing

Source: Plan B Printing

This technique uses an inkjet technology that prints directly onto the garment. For a complete DTG setup, you’ll require a digital printer and ink. Hence, this method is also known as Inkjet garment printing. The ink is completely safe and seeps into the t-shirt where it dries quickly. It works just like a regular printer- a design is created on the computer which is then printed using the printer. The only difference is that, in this case, the design is printed on a t-shirt. This is a relatively new technique in t-shirt printing industry.


1. It is ideal for printing customized t-shirts quickly and at low cost

2. Can give full color, photographic prints that feels soft on the hands.


1. Pre-treatment is required for printing on dark colored fabrics.

2. Ink is expensive and the print has low durability, making it uneconomical compared to other methods.

4. Dye-Sublimation Printing

Source: pinimg

In this method, a dye sublimation printer uses heat to transfer dye onto the fabric. A special liquid dye is used which dries up when it meets the polyester fabric. After it’s dried completely, it solidifies on the fabric and then heat and pressure are applied to it, which converts the dye into its gaseous state. The heat expands the fabric molecules which let the gaseous ink slip between the gap that appears in the cloth. In the end, the molecules contracts again when you remove the heat. This method is capable of transforming the whole t-shirt into a great piece of art.


1. Can produce unique all-over designs in different style.

2. Can print in a variety of color options with complicated details.


1. Limited fabric option, as the shirts to be printed on, should be made from 100% polyester only.

2. Works best on white and light-colored clothing.

5. CAD Cut Vinyl Printing

Source: YouTube

In this method, a design is created that is professionally cut on a unique, soft clothing using a CAD cutter. The cutter uses a blade to cut the shape of the desired design out of a sheet or roll of colored vinyl. With the help of “pick tools,” the leftover vinyl is then peeled off to get the final design which is known as weeding. This design is then printed on your t-shirt using heat press method. This method works well if you need distinct letterings like in case of slogans, small graphics, and words.


1. Ideal for larger and medium prints as well, as there is no fading or cracking of prints.

2. Full color, high-quality images with matte or gloss finish can be printed.


1. Requires a CAD cutter, heat press and a software which can get slightly expensive.

2. It requires prior learning and knowledge of the software and hardware before use.

An important point to keep in mind while choosing the right printing machine is to identify your wants and desires and your expectations of the final result. You should be mindful of the number of t-shirts to be printed, the type of design and how heavily colored it is as they are important factors in deciding the right printing method for you. Also, though some of these machines may cost less initially, there may be hidden and recurring expenses involved. Purchase your machine keeping in mind your overall budget.

Author Bio:

Jessica is an marketing enthusiast and an influencer in Fashion & FnB verticals.

She’s a fashionista and enjoys to have a glass or two of wine with her friends. Her undying love for wine made her a regular contributor at Remedyliquor too.

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