Sublimation vs Screen Printing: Which Printing Method Is Right for You?

Embarking on a journey through the vibrant world of printing methods, we will discuss into the intricate details of sublimation and screen printing. Both methods, boasting their unique advantages and applications, have carved out significant niches in the printing industry. But how do they stack up against each other, and more importantly, which one aligns seamlessly with your business needs? Let’s explore the depths of “sublimation vs screen printing” to unveil their secrets and determine the optimal choice for various applications.

1. What is Sublimation Printing Process? 

Sublimation printing, often hailed for its ability to produce vibrant, full-color, all-over prints, employs a specialized process where designs are transferred onto fabric through heat, ensuring the ink is embedded into the fibers. This method is particularly favored for detailed and multicolored designs, offering a plethora of opportunities for businesses seeking to create intricate, high-quality prints on polyester or polymer-coated materials.

Although sublimation vs screen printing are printing methods, it is important to know their difference, ultimate use, and process. In Sublimation, we use a special printer with a heat-press technique to print material.While in Screen Printing, the ink is poured through a stencil on fabric. Screen printing can be done both by hand and machine.

Sublimation And Screen Printing: The Eco-Friendly Angle

Sublimation printing is a more sustainable option than screen printing, thanks to its use of non-toxic inks and minimal water consumption. It is also compatible with on-demand production models, which helps to reduce waste. Opting for sublimation printing becomes a prudent selection for enterprises that are steadfast in their dedication to ecological stewardship.

2.Screen Printing: Bold, Vibrant Prints with a Classic Touch

Screen printing, a method steeped in tradition and favored for its bold, vibrant outputs, involves manually pushing ink through a mesh stencil onto fabric. While it may not support the detailed, multicolored designs achievable with sublimation, screen printing excels in producing striking, durable prints, particularly on cotton and cotton blend materials.

Screen Printing: Creative Special Effects and Textures

The ability to incorporate special effects, such as glitter and specialty inks, provides screen printing with a unique edge, enabling the creation of textured, eye-catching designs. This opens up a realm of creative possibilities, particularly for businesses looking to offer uniquely textured and visually dynamic products.

3. Setup for Sublimation Printing and Screen Printing

To know a bigger difference between the two methods, we must know the startups and execution methods. Here is all you need to know about the setup of sublimation printing vs Screen Printing.

  • Setup takes time and effort
  • Only one color is applicable
  • stencil sheets are used above the printing surface for multi colors
  • Takes time to dry

The Screen Printing setup is as follows,

  • Setup is simple
  • All colors are applicable
  • Quick process
  • Dry ups instantly
sublimation Vs Screen Printing

4.Sublimation Vs Screen Printing -The Working

Sublimation printing uses the heat press technique to print a piece of fabric. A specific machine does the process of printing a digitally designed photo on your T-shirt. This printing mode is built on Sublimation, where dry ink is converted into gaseous ink. The gaseous ink is then perforated through an inkjet onto the fabric. The process is simple as compared to screen printing and gives instant results.

Screen printing is a time-consuming process in which la customized perforated sheet of paper is placed on the fabric before printing. The silkscreen ink is placed smoothly and carefully on the sheet to get an aligned design. The ink stays on the upper layer of the garment and dries up. Screen printing, also known as serigraphy, can be done both by machine and hands. 

5.Some good facts about sublimation VS Screen printing

Sublimation printing is quick and simple through a Sublimation printer. The instant results and large-scale production facilities pursue people to buy it.

  • The minimum cost for any design
  • Prints realistic image
  • Print lasts longer
  • Uses a color combination of CYMO without any time loss
  • Used for multiple surface materials
  • Gives detailed and accurate print
  • Works for multi-color designs
  • A great investment
  • Expensive printers and heat press
  • Available in the market but costly
  • The process takes time
  • works only on light color surfaces
  • The fabric should not be less than 69% polyester
  • Non-recyclable garments

Screen Printing is a better option for bulk printing because of many reasons. For startups, this process of Screen Printing is best. 

  • It is payment effective method
  • Easy to do with hands and machine
  • Can process with every color
  • Suits all types of fabric
  • Prints 3D designs on shirts
  • Cheap to set up at home
  • Bulk printing is much easier without spending a lot of money
  • Takes time to dry up
  • Each color needs to be done separately with perforated sheets

6.Differences between Sublimation and screen printing

While both methods boast impressive print quality, the durability and application of sublimation and screen printing diverge, particularly in terms of design complexity and longevity. Sublimation’s ability to embed ink into fabric ensures long-lasting prints, while screen printing, although vibrant, may experience wear over time due to the ink’s position atop the fabric.

There is a difference in the operational methods and techniques of sublimation vs screen printing.

  1. In Sublimation, the print is transferred into the garment, while in Screen printing, it is printed onto the garment’s surface.
  2. Sublimation printing needs a heat transfer technique, while screen printing needs perforated sheets to squeeze the garment.
  3. Sublimation prints last longer than screen prints.
  4. The prints of sublimation printing are soft, but screen prints are hard and breathless. 
  5. Sublimation needs to have a special machine. Screen printing is affordable to do with both hands and machines. 
  6. Easy to do all types of prints with a sublimation printer, but screen printing does not work well with intricate designs.

Quantity, Fulfillment, and Upfront Investment Considerations

Navigating through the realms of quantity and fulfillment, sublimation emerges as a versatile option for both small and large orders, aligning well with on-demand production models. Conversely, screen printing, with its manual, stencil-based process, often proves more cost-effective in bulk, albeit with higher upfront investment and potential stock management challenges.

7.What colors can be used? 

We can create all types of designs with Sublimation vs Screen Printing. However, we need perforated sheets or grids to do multiple colors of intricate designs in screen printing. Screen printing with multiple colors requires a lot of effort.

A combination of CYMO-Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Overcoat works accurately on a sublimation printer to print any design. 

Screen printing takes time to dry up and takes a lot of time printing method. Also, the prints are not sustainable and get cracks after some washes. On the other hand, it is easy to do printing with a sublimation printer at once. The prints are durable and soft as compared to screen prints.

Why is sublimation printing best?

  • It is cost-effective and good with small projects.
  • Easy to do on polyester fabrics.
  • The CYMK color method enables us to print every color onto the garments.
  • The prints are long-lasting and easy to wear.
  • We get instant results in sublimation printing.

Why is Screen Printing good?

  • Multiple types of inks can be used.
  • Suitable for all types of fabrics.
  • Start-up is easy without any cost.
  • Cost-effective for bulk printing

Tips for sublimation and Screen printing

  • Sublimation printing is great for printing a design on a t-shirt because you can use any colors you want.
  • Sublimation Printing allows you to print the design on the front and back of the shirt
  • Screen-printing only allows you to print only one color and one side of the shirt

Supplies Needed for Sublimation


  • Epson Sublimation: ET-2760
  • Ink: Hiipoo Sublimation Ink
  • Paper: Heat Transfer Paper by Solvay
  • Heat Press: Heat Press Machine
  • Roller: Lint Roller

The supplies required for sublimation are as mentioned above

Supplies Needed for Screen Printing


  • screen printing Kit: Vinyl starter kit
  • Tape: Transfer Tape
  • Maker: Cricut Maker
  • Press: Heat Press
  • Frame: Wood Frame
  • Ink: Printing Ink and 4 Fine Glitter

The supplies required for screen Printing are mentioned above

8.What is better? Sublimation Vs Screen Printing

The selection for sublimation vs screen printing modes is not easy. The budget, material to print, project needs, design complexities are all things to consider before choosing any one of them. The choice differs from person to person according to use. Dry Sublimation and screen printing are widely used for T-shirts printing. However, before choosing any of the factors mentioned earlier are essential to consider. 

When choosing a printing mode, one must compare Sublimation Vs. Screen Printing methods. A printing mode must be chosen while counting the needs, product type, and required results. In between both, Sublimation is solid and durable but a bit expensive to start. The screen printing is easygoing and needs zero investment to start.

  • Sublimation works on polyester material
  • Sublimation on 100% polyester
  • Ink shows better in light colors
  • Looks faded or dull in dark colors
  • Create custom shirts/ totes from home
Screen Printing Balanks
  • Screen printing works on any fabric
  • Works great on 100% cotton
  • Any color shirt
  • Ink can be tricky to master
  • custom shirts and totes from home

Frequently Asked Question For Sublimation and Screen Printing

Q1: Which printing method is more suitable for detailed, multicolored designs?

A1: Sublimation printing is typically more suitable for detailed, multicolored designs, allowing for seamless printing from seam to seam and ensuring vibrant, detailed outputs.

Q2: How do sublimation and screen printing compare in terms of eco-friendliness?

A2: Sublimation printing is often regarded as more eco-friendly due to its use of non-toxic inks and reduced water usage, while screen printing can utilize eco-friendly inks but often employs plastisol inks, which are not biodegradable.

Q3: For a business model focused on on-demand production, which printing method is preferable?

A3: Sublimation printing is generally preferable for on-demand production models due to its versatility in order quantity and reduced upfront investment, allowing for efficient production without necessitating bulk orders.

Final Words

Navigating through the intricate worlds of sublimation and screen printing, businesses are presented with a spectrum of possibilities, each method offering its unique advantages and considerations. From the detailed, eco-friendly nature of sublimation printing to the bold, creatively rich potential of screen printing, the choice ultimately hinges on your business model, design needs, and sustainability considerations. May your journey through the realms of “sublimation vs screen printing” be enriched with informed decisions, vibrant prints, and flourishing business endeavors.

All pros and cons about sublimation and screen printing  are mentioned in the above article. Printing is a growing industry with trending customized printing. On the industrial level of T-Shirt businesses, both printing methods are used regarding the quality and needs of the product. Read the information wisely and choose what is best for you. 

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sublimation vs screen printing

Sublimation Vs Screen Printing
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