One of the most common questions we get here at Monograms by K & K is what is the difference between screen printing and vinyl printing.
We use vinyl printing here, which is essentially cutting designs out of different colors of vinyl (our multitude of vinyl rolls are pictured) and then heat pressing them on to a garment. Think iron on transfer, but with a really big, really, really hot (350°!) "iron". The heat press uses a combination of heat and heavy pressure to apply the vinyl to garments.
Screen printing is the process of cutting screens to make a big stencil of a design. Ink is then spread over the screen and the ink then only goes onto the garment where you want it to. Only one screen can be used per color.
Why We Use Vinyl Printing:
Screen printing does not work for small jobs. Since a new screen has to be cut for each design, it would not make sense to use screen printing on little jobs (one website I looked at suggested a minimum of 500 shirts!). Since we use vinyl printing, we don't have to have a minimum! We love helping our customers with small jobs and even jobs of 1 or 2 items. It keeps our costs low and our customers happy!
Have you ever bought a shirt with a graphic on it and after a few washes had it peeling, cracking, and/or fading all over the place?? This is another problem with screen printing. Screen printing should last the lifetime of your garment if you wash it inside out with only cold water, but who does that? Vinyl printing will not crack or fade. I have a shirt that I always use as an example when people ask how our vinyl printing washes. I received this shirt as a gift and it says Wild Like Wes on the front that is screen printed and then we printed Welker 83 on the back in vinyl, all before I ever washed it. After owning the shirt for 2, maybe 3 years now, and washing it many, many times, the front screen printing is faded. The print is now almost speckled with the color of the shirt showing through. The back looks the same as the day we printed it. The picture on the left is the screen print, on the right is vinyl. It doesn't look too bad in the picture, but it looks worse in person.
There are advantages to screen printing. One being that big jobs get done a lot faster with a lot less labor. With vinyl printing, we have to cut each design from a roll of vinyl and then weed out all unwanted parts (e.g. inside of the e and d). And we have to do that for each color of the design for each shirt. Orders of 100 shirts or more can take longer for us to do, but that's not to say we can't do them. To help us, we just got this beast of a machine yesterday, that has two heat presses in one, lasers to help line things up quicker, and it moves on it's own!
Another advantage of screen printing is that complex designs with fading (on purpose!), multiple colors and distressed fonts are easier to do. We have solved this problem with our big printer. It prints designs onto white vinyl material that we then can press on. It is still hard to do designs with fading and distressing, and sometimes we just flat out can't do them. Screen printing is also softer than vinyl. We do use soft-touch vinyl but it does not feel the same way.
Okay I think that's it! Sorry for the length of the post, but hopefully you know a little bit about the difference between vinyl and screen printing and more about what we do (probably more than you needed to know :) )
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Monograms by K & K