Compare Decoration Methods

When it comes to custom t-shirts and apparel, offering three different decoration methods provides the versatility to get exactly what you want.

The most common decision is to choose between screen and digital printing. The primary factor here will be the order quantity. Digital printing uses CMYK inks with advanced ink jet printing to create your design directly on the t-shirt. This means no minimums on digitally printed custom t-shirts, not to mention no limitations when it comes to color count or complexity. Screen printing, on the other hand, is the traditional t-shirt printing method where each color is separated and burned to individual fine-mesh screens before printing ink through the screens. You’ll need at least 12 pieces to have your order screen printed, and keep in mind that the number of colors in your design is used to calculate the screen printed price.

Check out the table below for a complete breakdown comparing all three decoration methods.

  Screen Printing Digital Printing Embroidery
Application Technique The traditional method of garment decoration. Individual colors in your design are imposed on fine mesh screens. Ink is then forced through the mesh directly onto the fabric and is bonded using high temperatures. State-of-the-art technology where the image is printed onto the garment directly from a digital file. Unlike iron-on transfers, digital printing leaves a vibrant image with excellent durability and wash fastness. Logo or design is sewn directly into the fabric using decorative needlework.
Minimum Order 12 pieces No minimum 12 pieces
Production Time 7 days 48 hours 7 days
Price Factors
  • Product style and color
  • Number of print locations
  • Number of colors in design
  • Product style and color
  • Number of print locations
  • Product style and color
  • Number of embroidery locations
  • Thread count
Typical Uses Large volume orders for businesses, schools, organizations, and events Individual shirts or small volume runs Business shirts or uniforms
  • Extremely cost effective when produced in large volume runs
  • Creates high quality apparel that can withstand years of washing
  • No minimum allows for small or individual custom shirts
  • Cost effective reproduction of full color images
  • Fast turn around time
  • Price is not affected by number of colors in design
  • Creates attractive, branded apparel
  • Logo is sewn directly into the fabric
Limitations Maximum of 8 colors per location Only available in certain product styles and colors Best when applied to heavier garments such as polos