How To Differentiate Screen Printing From Digital Printing

Screen printing is a printing technique that uses a woven mesh fabric as a medium for stenciling. A photo emulsion coated screen mesh forms the image to be printed on the substrate, then ink is forced into the mesh openings and onto the substrate.

Screen printing is a printmaking technique laid out in screen devices or frames, that consist of two flat or hinged parts (flaps) and a fine-meshed gauze stretched across the frame between them.

Digital printing technologies can use many different techniques (e.g., direct ink transfer, offset lithography, sublimation, electrophotographic processes), but the most common are inkjet and toner-based technologies.

Digital printing is a method of printing from an image directly to a variety of media without the use of traditional offset or rotary screen methods.

Both terms are used to refer to xerographic and laser printing processes. Some of the factors which can help in differentiating screen printing from digital printing are described below:

1. Hand-Feel

Screen-printed clothes have a rougher hand-feel than digitally printed cloths. While the former displays an uneven surface, the latter is surely smooth and gives a soft touch.

In addition, there is no stiffness in screen printed clothes whereas it’s hard to bend a digitally printed outfit except for its thin fabric variety.

2. Price

Since screen printing is more laborious than digital printing, its cost is on the expensive side. Besides, due to the complicated process involved, it can be done if there are enough orders for the same design uploaded on the website.

This means you cannot expect quick delivery of screen-printed clothes whereas, in digital printing, almost all t-shirt printing services are able to give you quick deliveries.

To get good results at an affordable price, you should hire reputed professionals such as screen printing Vancouver contractors can print top-grade prints on your apparel.

3. Design

Since both the processes have their differences in design displayed on clothes, there is a difference here too. While for screen printing, you can only maintain one single color per clothing item, with digital printing more colors are possible at once. Also, the colors used by these two are different.

4. Care

Screen printed clothes are made to be hand-washed only whereas for digitally printed outfits, it’s machine washable almost everywhere in the world.

However, if multiple colors have been used on a single t-shirt then machine washing is not advisable without checking the care label first you’ll be fine with hand washing.

5. Size

Since there is much difference between screen printed clothes and digital prints, so does their size come in this case. The former is larger than the latter.

This is because screen printing uses a special squeegee that presses on the fabric which leaves behind tiny holes on the surface where ink impregnates in it. This makes the cloth denser and thus, less permeable to air and light whereas digital prints come out thin and smooth.

6. Durability of color

Depending upon the type of ink applied, the color used to print either digital or screen-printed clothes lasts long. Firstly, there is a huge difference between digital printing and screen printing involving only a single color.

In this case, only this process will take place. On the other hand,  in digital prints, due to the blending of colors when done with heat transfer vinyl (HTV), the color’s longevity will increase.

When you hire trained professionals, then you will get the desired and durable results. For instance, if you want to get a customized t-shirt, then you should take the help of reputable t shirt printing Edmonton contractors.

7. Feel

The feel of cloth depends upon its base fabric. The screen-print on clothes is perfect for cotton fabric, it displays a rough and coarse feeling.

On the other hand, the digital prints come out thin and delicate on clothing items which gives an amazingly soft and smooth hand-feel to whoever wears them after printing even if the fabric is 100% cotton.

8. Process

Screen-printing involves using a mesh stencil which serves as the medium for transferring ink onto the substrate. Each hole in the mesh has a specific function, such as transferring ink to the substrate, resisting ink so that it can keep areas free of printing, or acting as registration marks for accurate alignment.

Digital printed makes use of plates that contain photo-sensitive polymer-coated materials called photopolymer plates.

The image needs either ultraviolet light or laser exposure on the plate during the production process. The digital printed plates are reusable. Therefore, you can easily use them again and again. 


It is difficult to differentiate between screen-printed clothes and digital prints. But after reading this article you must’ve got an idea of how to tell them apart from each other.

If you are looking forward to getting good quality latest design t-shirts at an affordable price with quick delivery service. In this case, you always make sure you choose a screen printer.

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