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Print Process Predicament

Some of the different printing processes we use can be a bit confusing for the uninitiated. I'd like to show a comparison to help our customers understand the differences and why you may want to use one process over another. The two I want to compare today are Screen-printing and Direct to Garment printing. Screen-printing has been the industry standard for garment printing and is best suited for large runs. The biggest advantage is almost any fabric can be screen-printed. The process involves creating a stencil on a mesh screen and pushing ink through that stencil to leave the desired image on the shirt. The main limitations are the amount of colors available per design (6 in the case of our presses) and the fact that gradients can only be achieved by the use of Haltones. A halftone is essentially a dot pattern that mimics the gradient, we also can use halftones to trick the eye into seeing another color. For example if we print a solid yellow shape and then print a red gradient halftone over top your eye will perceive an orange that occurs between the balance of the two colors. Direct to Garment on the other hand is a whole other animal, the process is somewhat simpler. Basically a garment is loaded into a special inkjet printer to which a digital file is output onto the garment. As you can imagine this potentially has a huge amount of options. Suddenly gradients, photos and infinite colors are available. The catch is the print only works on materials with a high cotton content. Unfortunately that alienates a large portion of athletic wear and jerseys. Below is a side by side comparison on your left is the screen-print and the right Direct to garment.

As you can see both have bold colors although the Direct to Garment print has a much more subtle transition between colors. In many ways the use of halftones can add a graphic element to your designs although usually it is a way to cut costs by converting images to 1 color designs. Both have their uses and hopefully I have shed some light on the options we offer at BFGH.

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