Screen and digital printing are two of the most popular methods of printing and your choice will depend on what it is you want to print, the material you want to print on and the quantity you desire.
In brief, if you wanted 100 individually personalised prints, the digital print would suit your needs. Alternatively, if you needed a higher quantity of prints that didn’t have to be personalised, then screen printing may be your best option.
Both methods have differing finishes too – if you’re looking for a more authentic, retro or softer look, you may be more interested in screen printing, however, if you’re looking for a more modern, fresh and crisp finish then digital printing is something to consider. This is just one of the things you have to consider when trying to work out the best printing method for you; we list the main benefits and drawbacks of each method below.
The screen printing process includes the use of a stencil (aka the screen), and using this, layers of ink are applied to the printing surface, one at a time. For each new colour, a different screen is used.
This process is much newer and involves the use of complex computing. The image on the screen is analysed and then converted into a format which can then be printed directly onto the surface required.
Screen printing is very versatile, and the technique can be used to print on many different types of material such as textiles, plastic and latex. The surface you’re printing on does not need to be printed under pressure, so it’s commonly used for products such as balloons, clothing and wallpaper.
Digital printing is typically used for direct mail and coupons or a print which requires a more modern, crisp finish. This method is a lot more detailed in comparison to the screen printing process.
Digital printing can be used for near enough anything and makes it very easy to personalise, and it’s a quicker alternative to screen printing.
Depending on the quantity of prints you require, you might be better off using one of the methods over the other. For example, is you’re after a small number of copies, then screen printing probably isn’t the best way to go as the initial setup can be expensive. However, the more prints you need, the cheaper this process will work out in the long run as once the screen printing machine has been calibrated, there’s no need to do it again. This setup is often charged as a one-off fee – the origination fee.
Digital, on the other hand, works out a lot cheaper for smaller quantities as you don’t have to pay the origination fee.
The price per print can also depend on the number of colours you want to use. Black and white digital printing is cheaper, but there’s no difference if you decide you want one colour or one hundred. An additional screen is required for each new colour with screen printing which means any additional colours will cost you.
Screen printing’s original roots go back to Egyptian times with stencilling and then later in China (900 A.D.) when they first forced ink through silk fabric to create images. It was then that ancient artists first stretched silk fabric across a frame and poured hot beeswax into it. Although, it wasn’t until the 1880’s that screen printing took off as a commercial process for decorating fabric.
The digital printing process was introduced relatively recently with the first digital printing presses being introduced in the early 1990’s. Digital printing processes have evolved a lot in the meantime to the point where batches of digital prints can be published in a matter of seconds.
Where a screen printing gives a more vibrant finish (especially when printing onto a darker surface), digital distribution is better suited to detailed work due to the layers of ink being thinner which assures the final print will turn out more precise.
So there you have it. Hopefully, our guide has given you a better idea of the processes involved and finished you can achieve with screen printing and digital printing. If you’d like to speak to one of our printing pro’s, or if you would like a quote on our digital printing services, feel free to get in touch using the quick enquiry form to the right.
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