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What do all these decoration/production types mean?

When it comes to how we produce all the items you can add to your store, there are a lot of unique of decorations types. DTG, Heat Transfer, and Screen Printing are just the beginning. But don’t worry! You don’t need to be an expert in manufacturing to successfully run your store.

 

Having said that, it’s not a bad idea for you to have some basic familiarity with some of the more common design types. Understanding what’s involved in each process will help you to choose the right method for the right items and save time for everyone involved.

 

The information on this page has been condensed and summarized so you can quickly and easily learn more about the production types you plan to use. If you want to know more or have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Direct-to-Garment (DTG)

 

Digital Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printing is just like printing on paper, except we do it on clothing. It’s one of the newest ways to get full color, HD artwork printed directly onto a variety of items of your choosing.

 

DTG Printing uses special water-based inks, which are absorbed by the fibers of the garment. This process creates much higher-definition, longer-lasting artwork than other design methods.

DTg

Pros

Limitations

Artwork Types to Avoid

– Prints in High-Definition for precisely printed artwork and art with a wide range of colors or fine gradients.

– Great for on-demand and small quantity orders 

– Not optimal for large orders- items are printed one at a time.

– Can only print on 100% cotton

  • – Avoid low resolution files! If the art is grainy or pixelated in the original file, that’s how it will look on the final product. As you’ll see, this is true for basically every production method.

Laser Engraving

Engraving is the process of etching a design into the surface of an item by using either a special motorized bit or laser. It is most commonly used on surfaces like plastic, wood, metal, leather and some fabrics. 

 
Engraving can only design art with one color, and that color comes as a result of the depth,  the burning (darkening) effect of the laser, or  the oxidation (with pre-treated metals).
Laser Engraving

Pros

Limitations

Artwork Types to Avoid

– Classy, permanent form of personalization

– Very cost-effective

– Can be used to cut out specific shapes 

– Only feasible with single color designs

– Darkness from laser varies by laser speed and depth

– Low resolution (use Vector artwork!)

– Multi-colored

– Highly detailed graphics (small and intricate details are often excluded by laser)

Screen Printing

 

Screen Printing is one of the more complex decoration types, but what you need to know is that screen printing has a long set-up time and is best suited for bulk orders.

 

The setup time is longer because screen printing involves designing/producing anywhere between 1 and 9 screens, each of which is used to add one color or layer of the design at a time. Once you have these screens however, you have a specialized system that can print identical designs on a large number of items in a very short time.

Pros

Limitations

Artwork Types to Avoid

– Most cost-effective for large quantities

– Able to print in various locations on item

– Artwork is more resistant to fading after washing

– Can print fine detail

  • – Higher setup cost than other methods

– Screens must be redesigned for each order

– Limited to 9 colors or so. i.e. not for photo-quality prints

– Low resolution

– Art with more than 9 colors; it can still be done, but there will be surcharges

– Photos; trying to print photos often results in grainy, off-colored print. Stick to vectors!

Embroidery

 

Embroidery is a true and tried method for decorating accessories such as Bags, Hats, Blankets, Jackets, Aprons, Polos, and more. It uses colored thread, computer-guided stitching, and other helpful tools to embellish an object with a desired logo or message. 


There are literally hundreds of thread colors to accommodate nearly any logo, however, most embroidery shops keep just a few dozen of the most popular colors on hand. So if you need a custom color, know that it will take longer than normal to order in those precise colors.

Pros

Limitations

Artwork Types to Avoid

– Permanent artwork/doesn’t fade

– process allows for single purchases

– One-time setup fee (per artwork)

– Can add designs to multiple locations on same product

– Not ideal for full-color images

– Artwork may “pucker” or curl over time

– May alter performance of waterproof fabrics

– Low-resolution

– Small fonts or fine detail

– Gradient Images- every color in the design will be a separate thread, so any transitions will appear stark, not smooth and gradual.

 

Heat Transfer

 

Heat Transfer Printing is the process of applying vinyl graphics to an item using specialty vinyls and a heat press. This machine applies 50+ pounds of pressure per square inch along with temperatures of up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit to bond custom printed logos and designs to the fabric or surface of various items

 

The vinyls used are usually available in a variety of solid colors. Alternatively, a full-color image can be printed onto white vinyl, and then applied. Most designs require the removal of excess vinyl (a manual process) before being being applied to the article.

Pros

Limitations

Artwork Types to Avoid

 – Cheap in small quantities

– Wide variety of color options

– Crisp looking skin tones & gradients

– Expensive in large quantities

– Not as time-effective as other options

– Cannot product fine details

– Large areas of applied vinyl can reduce the breathability of the garment, reducing comfort

– Low resolution

– Wispy fonts and fine details (especially cursive writing or other thin, loopy shapes)

– Large, continuous artwork (they may look OK, but they’ll affect the comfort of the article)

Stickers

 

Stickers are used for a wide variety of purposes. We provide different varieties of stickers to meet your needs, including: 


● Regular sticker sheets 
● Reversible window stickers 
● Domed stickers 
● Sticker name badges 

Other types of stickers may be available upon request. The sticker printing process is very unique, because stickers must be arranged in a way that utilizes the full width and length of the material that is printed.

Pros

Limitations

Artwork Types to Avoid

 – Full color artwork looks great

– Colors typically resist fading for 3-5 years

– Can usually be reused at least once

– Can be placed on multiple surface types

– Quarter inch white margin on full color artwork*

– Adhesive residue*

– Low resolution

– Small fonts or fine details (the standard minimum size for lettering is 1/4″ tall or 20-22 pt font size)

 

Ready to start designing items? 

Click here to head to the catalog!