Sublimation vs. Screen Printing: Which one’s better?


September 13, 2023


September 13, 2023


Sublimation vs. Screen Printing Which one’s better

Ever put on a rad custom tee or picked up some cool printed merch? Well, you’ve likely brushed past two big names in the printing world: Sublimation and Screen Printing. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Which one’s the bee’s knees?” It ain’t that simple, my friend. So, grab your favorite snack and buckle up as we’re about to dive deep into the artsy world of these two print legends.

Sublimation – Oh boy! Talk about prints that make your jaw drop. Imagine colors melting into one another without a seam in sight. It’s like magic but for fabrics. It’s the kind of stuff you’d wear and go, “Check me out!”

Then there’s Screen Printing. The age-old champ. I’ve been around the block, seen it all, and done it all. This bad boy’s been the bread and butter for businesses for ages. Whether it’s tees, posters, or canvas bags, screen printing is like that reliable buddy you can always count on.

Now, I’m not here to make you pick sides, but I’ll surely guide you through the nitty-gritty of each. So, without beating around the bush, let’s start with Sublimation. Ready? Dive in!

Sublimation vs. Screen Printing Which one’s better

What is Sublimation Printing, and How it works?

Ever had that moment where you’re indulging in some ice cream and get a sudden brain freeze? And you’re left wondering, “Can’t this cold just vanish into thin air?” While that’s wishful thinking for our frozen treats, there’s actually a process in the world of science called sublimation where certain solids, instead of melting, turn straight into gas. Pretty neat, isn’t it?

Now, let’s talk about ink. Imagine if, rather than getting all liquidy when heated, ink could leapfrog straight into being a gas. Enter the realm of sublimation. With this technique, we’re not just using your everyday ink. We’re bringing in the big guns – sublimation ink. This stuff’s kind of the VIP in the ink world.

When it’s exposed to heat, especially on materials like polyester or specially coated ones, it changes from solid to gas and integrates seamlessly into the fabric. Cool it down, and voilà! It solidifies inside the material, resulting in vibrant and long-lasting designs.

One of the major pluses here? The ink isn’t just sitting on the surface, waiting to chip off at the next opportunity. Instead, it’s embedded within, ensuring it’s resistant to the usual wear and tear. Say goodbye to annoying cracks, peels, or fades after frequent washes.

Now, while we’re on the topic of printing techniques, there’s the time-honored method of Screen Printing. Think of it as the classic vinyl record to Sublimation’s latest digital track. Where sublimation plays its magic trick of disappearing and reappearing ink, screen printing is more about crafting art through a stencil. Each has its own charm and appeal, and choosing between them often depends on the task at hand.

So, the next time you don a shirt and marvel at how the print feels so integrated, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing the wonders of sublimation. Intriguing, isn’t it?

What is Screen Printing, and How it works?

Ever heard of “screen printing” or maybe bumped into the cooler-sounding term “silkscreening”? Yup, that’s the OG printing method that’s been around since, get this, ancient China! So, picture this: way back in the day, some brainy folks over in China were playing around and basically came up with this super cool art form that we still dig today.

So, what’s the deal? Well, it’s kind of like making a sandwich but with a fun twist. Instead of your usual bread and toppings, you’ve got a mesh screen, some snazzy ink, and whatever you’re vibing to print on – maybe that fave tee of yours or a dope poster for your wall. Cool, right?

Breaking it Down:

  • Design Creation: Start with your design. Once you have that piece of art, it’s time to get it onto your mesh screen. Not too complicated, right?
  • The Role of Emulsion: Here’s where it gets a tad technical. You need to coat parts of the mesh that won’t have the design with a substance named emulsion. Essentially, it’s your way of guiding the ink, saying, “This isn’t your territory, pal!”
  • Applying the Ink: Gently spread your chosen ink over the screen. Precision counts.
  • The Squeegee Move: The interactive part! Picture using a squeegee (yeah, like the one you’d use on windows) to push the ink through the mesh’s open areas.
  • Revel in the Outcome: And there you have it! A beautifully detailed print that’s both vibrant and durable.

The adaptability of screen printing is commendable. Whether it’s fabric, paper, or even wood, this technique ensures quality and consistency.

Now, for those curious about the ongoing debate between screen printing and sublimation – prepare for some insights. It’s like comparing classic rock to electronic dance music. Both have their merits, their unique quirks, and their passionate followers. So, let’s delve into their individual pros and cons and see who emerges victorious in your eyes. Shall we?

Differences between Sublimation and Screen Printing

Okay, so you’ve probably heard about sublimation and screen printing, but let’s break down the nitty-gritty of what sets them apart. First off, the way the ink says “hello” to the material is super different. With sublimation, the ink basically becomes one with the material – kind of like they’re BFFs. But with screen printing, the ink’s more like, “I’m just gonna chill on top here.”

Now, if we’re talking about what materials these methods play nice with, sublimation is a bit picky; it needs polyester-based or special coated buddies. Screen printing, on the other hand, is like the friendly neighbor who gets along with everyone – it can work with cotton, thicker fabrics, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Durability-wise, sublimation is the champ for stuff you’ll toss in the wash a lot since it promises a no-peel, no-fade kind of relationship. Screen printing’s durable, too, but after a bunch of washes, it might start showing its age with some fading or cracking.

Lastly, color vibes. If you’re all about those bright, gradient-packed designs, sublimation’s your jam. Screen printing can totally pop with colors, too, but if your design’s rocking a ton of shades, it might be a bit more of a hassle and might make your wallet a tad lighter.

So, given the lowdown on these two, which one’s catching your eye for your next big project or biz venture?

So, what’s the best bet for your business?

Let’s break it down: Sublimation’s got this awesome ability to whip out intricate designs with a whole rainbow of colors on polyester stuff. If you’re diving into activewear, swimwear, or anything that’s gonna be in and out of the washing machine often, then sublimation might just be your new BFF.

Now, if you’re all about those big orders and more on the simple design side of things, screen printing’s got your back. Getting heaps of requests for promo tees or other merch? Screen printing’s fast pace and bang-for-your-buck factor might just win you over.

But hey, don’t forget the startup costs. Jumping into sublimation can be a bit on the pricier side ’cause of all the special inks and printers you’ll need. While screen printing does need some dough, too, it’s a bit more of a known path and might feel a tad more approachable.

Both ways have their tricky bits, though. Whether you’re going sublimation or screen printing, you’ll need some solid training, loads of practice, and a consistent hand to really nail it and make your clients super happy.

Looking ahead, what’s the next big thing in the printing world? Any cool trends businesses should be watching out for?

Sublimation vs. Screen Printing Which one’s better 2

Future Trends in Printing Technology

So, the world of printing? Constantly switching things up, and tech’s out here reshaping the game annually. Let’s talk about 3D printing for a second. Not your grandma’s traditional printing, but this bad boy lets businesses get all sorts of crafty with customization.

Oh, and have you heard of Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing? It’s kind of like turning your desktop printer into a personal fashion designer. DTG lets you slap those intricate designs right onto fabrics. Kinda bridges that gap between sublimation and screen printing, if you ask me.

Also, let’s not sleep on the whole “going green” movement. With companies getting all eco-friendly, you better believe printing with water-based inks and sustainable materials is about to blow up.

And dude, augmented reality (AR) is the next big thing. Picture this: You scan a tee with your phone, and bam! It comes alive with AR. Merging digital magic with old-school printing? That’s how you revolutionize promo gear.

Rounding things up, the brains behind the scenes—automation and AI—are looking to smooth out the printing process. Making things snappy and paving the way for even cooler stuff.


Alright, let’s break it down: sublimation and screen printing are like the Batman and Superman of the printing world, each with their superpowers. Sublimation? Think vivid, fade-resistant prints. Screen printing? It’s the go-to for big batches without breaking the bank. The best pick? Well, that’s up to what your business is aiming for and who you’re trying to impress.

Now, if you’re curious about what’s next in printing, trust me, the horizon is dazzling. Keeping up with the newest of the new? That’s the golden ticket to killing it in the industry.

So, whether you’re rocking with sublimation, vibing with screen print, or dancing somewhere in the middle, one thing’s for sure: the printing world is as popping as the masterpieces it churns out. Here’s to inky fingers and vibrant visions! Happy printing!