Types of Shirt Printing – A Comprehensive Guide

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Types of Shirt Printing

Nowadays, everybody wants to print something unique on their shirts. It’s become a trend among youngsters. To follow the trend, you must know the types of printing. Once you know the types, you can easily design as many shirts as you can for yourself. Using any shirt printing technique, you can also create a shirt for your business. 

In this guide, we will share the most common types in detail. We will start from the basics and go towards the advanced level—step by step. To get the most out of this article, follow everything and implement them. Some printing methods are best for a specific fabric. At the same time, the other one is perfect for a particular effect. 

Types of Shirt Printing

Following are the most common types of shirt printing we are going to share in this article:

  • Screen Printing
  • Direct to Garment Printing (DTG)
  • Vinyl Cutting Printing
  • Sublimation Printing

Initially, we will start with Screen Printing and DTG and then go on to the other types of shirt printing. All these techniques require different budgets, so choosing the one in your budget is essential. 

  1. Screen Printing

Screen printing is a versatile and traditional printing way. It involves using a mesh screen, stencil and ink to transfer a design onto a shirt. Screen printing is the easiest fabric printing method due to its ability to produce high-quality prints. These prints last longer, and you can have them in large quantities. 

Process of Screen Printing

The process begins with creating a stencil or screen of your design. It is made of a light-sensitive material like photo-reactive film or emulsion. The screen is placed on top of the shirt. After that, ink is applied to the screen and forced through the mesh onto the fabric using a squeegee. Each color is printed separately, with a new screen and ink mixture used for each design layer. 


  • The top-level advantage of screen printing is its ability to produce vibrant, opaque prints that stand out even on dark fabrics. The reason is that the ink is applied in a thicker layer. 
  • Screen printing also allows for a wide range of inks to be used. Includes metallic and glow-in-the-dark inks, which can add an extra dimension to the design. 
  • You can use this process to print on various fabrics, including cotton, polyester and blends. 
  • Screen print ink is long-lasting and durable, so the patterns can withstand repeated washing and wear without fading. 


  • It could be better for printing photographs or designs with complex color gradients. 
  • Each color must be printed separately, and it can make the process time-consuming and expensive.
  • It requires a certain level of skill and expertise to set up and perform. It means that it may not be suitable for small or one-off print runs.

Screen printing is a versatile and reliable method for shirts and other textiles. It can produce high-quality, long-lasting prints in large quantities. This type of printing is trendy among different kinds of designs, including logos, slogans and graphic designs. Many businesses, organizations and individuals use it for various purposes. 

  1. Direct to Garment Printing (DTG)

DTG printing is a modern way of printing. It involves a specialized digital printer to apply the design directly onto a shirt. This type of printing is ideal for printing designs with multiple colors and intricate details. We are making it a favorite choice for custom t-shirts, hoodies and other types of apparel. 

Process of DTG

The process begins by designing a file in digital format. The formats you can use are JPEG, PDF or PNG. Later, this design is loaded into the digital printer, which uses a combination of water-based ink and high-resolution printing technology to transfer the design directly onto the fabric. Ink is absorbed by the fiber of the materials, creating a soft and natural feel. 


  • The most significant advantage of DTG printing is its ability to produce high-quality prints with fine details. It is because the ink is applied directly onto the fabric. Moreover, it can capture even the most minor details of the design—resulting in a finished product identical to the original file. 
  • Additionally, DTG printing does not require screens or other traditional printing tools. It is a more cost-effective and efficient option for small to medium-sized print runs.
  • It can easily print on various fabrics, including cotton, polyester and blends. This makes it a versatile option for creating more stylish custom apparel. 
  • As DTG printing uses water-based inks, it is a more environmentally friendly option than other types of shirt printing. 


  • It is not very practical to print large quantities of shirts. Each shirt must be loaded into the printer individually. This can be time-consuming and expensive.
  • DTG is not as effective for printing on dark-coloured fabrics, as the ink is less opaque than other printing methods.

In general, DTG printing is a modern method of printing shirts. And it is ideal for creating high-quality, full-color designs on various fabrics. It is a more robust choice for custom t-shirts and other materials. 

  1. Vinyl Cutting Printing

Vinyl cutting is a printing method that uses a digital cutter to cut designs out of sheets of vinyl. Cut-out designs are then applied to a shirt using heat and pressure to transfer the design. This type of method is primarily used in creating custom t-shirts and other types of apparel. 

Process of Vinyl Cutting

The process starts with preparing a JPEG, PNG or PDF design using specialized software. Next, this design is sent to a digital cutter, which uses a small blade to cut the design out of a sheet. Then the excessive part is removed from the design, and only the required amount is left behind. 

Later, this cut-out design is then applied to shirts using a heat press machine. The machine will apply heat and pressure to transfer the vinyl onto the fabric. This will help bond the vinyl to the material, creating a durable and long-lasting print. 


  • Vinyl-cutting printing produces high-quality, durable prints that withstand repeated washing and wear. The vinyl material is resistant to fading, peeling and cracking, making it a popular choice for creating custom designs.
  • It can produce intricate designs with clean edges and sharp lines. 
  • The digital cutter can cut out even the most minor details of the design, resulting in a finished product virtually identical to the original file. 


  • Vinyl is not for printing large designs as the vinyl material is applied in a single color. It must be cut into separate pieces for each color. That makes the process time-consuming and expensive for multi-color designs.
  • Vinyl cutting is not ideal for printing photographs or designs with complex color gradients. It is limited to a single color only.

In short, Vinyl cutting printing is a popular and effective printing method for creating custom t-shirts. It is ideal for creating high-quality, durable prints with clean and sharp edges. Many large-scale organizations used it for various purposes.

  1. Sublimation Printing

The best way to print on a shirt is by using sublimation printing. It uses heat to transfer dye directly onto fabric. The dye is printed onto a sublimation paper first. Then it is transferred onto the fabric using heat and pressure. Sublimation is commonly used for creating custom jerseys, t-shirts and hoodies. 

Process of Sublimation Printing

The process of sublimation begins by preparing the design digitally. The design is then printed onto sublimation paper using sublimation ink. Later on, a particular type of dye is used to bond it with synthetic fabrics. Next, the paper is placed onto cloth, and both are subjected to heat and pressure using a heat press machine. 

Heat and pressure cause the dye to vaporize and bond with the fabric’s fibers during the process. This turns into a permanent and durable print resistant to fading and peeling. Because the material absorbs the dye, it produces a soft and natural feel with no texture or raised edges.


  • It produces a full-color print with vivid colors and fine details. And the dye is absorbed directly into the fabric, which can capture even the most minor details of the design—resulting in a finished product that is much identical to the original file. 
  • Sublimation printing is not limited to a single color. It allows the creation of full-color designs with no restrictions. 
  • Furthermore, it can print on various synthetic fabrics, including polyester. It is best for creating custom apparel that is more comfortable and stylish. 


  • It is incompatible with fabrics like cotton, as the dye cannot bond with the fibers in the same ways as the synthetic fabrics.

In a nutshell, sublimation is a modern and versatile method of printing. It is ideal for creating high-quality, full-color designs on various synthetic fabrics. It is a fine choice for custom jerseys, t-shirts and hoodies. 

These are the four types of shirt printing most commonly used on a larger scale. Each of them has upsides and downsides, as mentioned in the article. Now you can easily pick the one that is suitable for you and fits your requirements. 

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