Sublimation vs screen printing What is screen printing?

What is screen printing?

Screen printing is a method that consists of pushing ink through a woven mesh stencil onto the garment. The stencil is created though coating the mesh screen with an emulsion and allowing it to dry.  An original image is created on a transparent overlay, where the areas that will let ink through are completely opaque. This is then placed on the screen

and the mesh is exposed to ultraviolet light, hardening areas exposed to the light and allowing the blocked areas to be dissolved and washed away.

The areas that are washed away are the spaces that the ink will go through to create the design. The ink is then pushed by a fill blade or squeegee over the screen to flood the open holes in the mess Then, as the blade is pulled back over the mesh, the ink is pushed through the mesh onto the garment.

Printing fabrics

Sublimation printing fabrics
The sublimation process can only be used on 100% polyester material or materials with a special polymer coating. Sublimation is best for white or light colored fabrics. This may seem like a limited option, but polymer coated products can include coasters, mugs, mouse pads and more.

Screen printing fabrics
Screen printing can be used on almost any material, though it is easiest to apply on flat surfaces and is most commonly used on shirts.


The sublimation process can be quite pricey when you add up the cost of materials involved. Not only do you need to invest in sublimation paper, essential software, and products that you can sublimate, but you also need a heat press. Sublimation is best for small orders due to the cost and time it takes to produce an item.

Screen printing
For large batches with a single color and simple design, screen printing is the way to go. A special screen stencil has to be made for the design, so the more garments the better to make it worth your while. The setup for screen printing is costly and time-consuming, resulting in many printers establishing an order minimum for screen printed jobs.


Though both processes are capable of reproducing the finest of details and photorealistic images, the sublimation process achieves this in an easier manner.

Screen printing
Screen printed items require a special stencil for each design. The more intricate and colorful the design, the more stencils needed for a single garment. It’s best to keep your design simple if you are going with the screen printing method.