We here at WAR Ink are Traditional Screen Printers and haven't moved to the digital world for printing garments. We aren't behind the times - we just appreciate the quality of the product that can be created with a traditional hand print and are waiting for the digital printing process to catch up to the Traditional quality and vibrancy before we consider moving in that direction.
Traditional Screen Printing takes time and attention to detail. It involves creating a stencil, known as a screen, and then using that screen to apply ink on the printing surface of the garment. Each individual color is applied using a different screen, one at a time, and these prints are combined to achieve the final look of the design. The more colors a design has, the more screens that are needed, and the more setup time is required for the print job.
The ink in screen printing is applied thicker than digital printing, which results in brighter colors - even on darker shirts. Screen printing is the best option for designs that require a high level of vibrancy, specialty products, or for quantities greater than 6 pieces. While WAR Ink has no minimums for screen printing, price is usually a prohibitive factor for projects under 6 pieces as the initial setup and breakdown time for an individual print can’t be spread across the print run.
Digital Printing is a much newer process that involves artwork being processed by a computer, and then printed directly onto the surface of the product. Digital printing is not a transfer - the ink is directly sprayed onto the fabric of the shirt. The fact that the design is processed and printed digitally allows for a quantity of one, since there are no screens or a physical setup process.
Digital printing is best used for items that require large amounts of detail in smaller order quantity. The fact that the digital printer does not use screens allows for a small or short run print with much more detail than traditional screen printing on lighter garments. However, the ink is applied thinner making digital printing best used on lighter colored shirts to allow the design to shine through. Printing on darker garments can be difficult and the staying power of the print is much more limited due to the low volume of the ink on the initial print. Digital prints are durable but are more liable to fade from wear when compared to traditional screen prints.
But - we still Screen Print even our small and short run orders - someday the digital world will catch up with the traditional techniques and we will reevaluate our position on the available technology but until then we will keep a squeegee in our hands.