Designers often have multiple options when it comes to choosing a printing technique for a design. They consider the final outcome – such as how sharp the design will be, how durable it will be, how bright it will appear, and the texture and hand feel of the print. There are multiple ways to achieve a similar outcome, so cost is not always a consideration during the sampling stage.
However, as a designer you must consider which option will be most economical when it comes to bulk costs and production time. Print, block print, boutique print. Each printing method has multiple ways of application. Like – pigment print, discharge print, transfer print, khadi print etc. For example, if you are going to print light color on dark base then discharge print is always advisable. Discharge print also gives a soft hand feel. If you want a bright white print on dark base (black) color then you have to choose khadi print instead of other options but hand feel is harsh in khadi print.
When designing for production, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing a printing method. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, it is up to you which one to choose, but keep in mind the final outcome – how the print will look, feel, and how bright it will be. Be sure to keep the customer’s expectations in mind when making your decision. If you have a contract that specifies a certain look, you can’t go back on your agreement in order to save money.
According to technology level screen print, it can be done in rotary print, flatbed print (manual or semi-automatic machine). Print cost per garment will vary a lot compared to each other. Other variables are production time and minimum production volume. Though your customer will specify the print option before final order, you can advise them a better option if you have clear knowledge about different print methods and the pros and cons of each one. In the following, I will explain the reasons why and when to go for any particular printing method.
Block Printing (Manual): To keep costs down, avoid block-printing for mass production. If you need a more crafted look or a smaller quantity, then demographic printing or screen printing may be options. If hand block print is specified by the customer, it will be more expensive than screen print.
Rotary screen print: Rotary printing is a great choice for prints that cover the entire fabric, multiple colors, and high volumes. Compared to flat-bed print, rotary print has less lot variation. The cost of printing is calculated based on the amount of fabric that is printed, so buying wider fabric can save you money. Printing can only be done on fabric, not on panels or garments as a whole. The limitation is in design repeat.
Flat-bed screen print: Allover printing can be done in flat-bed but only through a manual process or an automated process using a long table bed. The advantage of this printing method is that there are no limitations to the design repeat. However, there is a higher chance of lot variation, repeat overlap when the smaller screen is used, and shade variation in the same pieces. Production is slow, making it unsuitable for small quantities of fabric printing. For garment panel printing, flat-bed screen printing is widely used.
Heat transfer print: Generally for a small motif, brand logo, label print and Swarovski print heat transfer printing method is used. This is a very slow process. In this case, the printer need only heat transfer machine and paper printed with motif. Foil printing, also done in heat transfer method. For foil print, you have no other option than heat transfer. It is a very easy method. So, many garment manufacturer who need the print logo or small motifs or stones keeps heat transfer machine in-house. In this case, logos of patterns first printed on paper then transferred the design to the garment using a heat transfer machine.
Direct Print: A direct garment print is similar to inkjet desktop printer. This is not a good option for bulk printing. It has benefits in terms of design flexibility, quick print. It does not stiffen the fabric.
When it comes for consideration of hand feel, stiffness, print texture and aesthetic look then you have to choose out of the following options.
Discharge print: For soft hand feel, lighter print color on dark base discharge print is a good option. Disadvantage- getting exact color is quite difficult especially when colored discharge printing. It is very difficult to develop a final color. The printer has to take extra care in this printing. Printing cost is similar to khadi and pigment print.
Pigment print: Widely used print for garment print and most economic. It is easy to develop color. Dye fixation is poor compared to other printing. If there is no specification then pigment print is advisable.
Khadi print: Khadi print used for hand block printing. When one needs to print light colours on dark base khadi print is a good option. In khadi print fabric printed pattern stiffen the fabric. For finer and sharp lines khadi print should be avoided. When printing is done on screen, the screen gets chocked and need screen cleaning. It terms of application easy to print.
Foil print, flock print or Burnt out print: Foil print, flock print and burnt out print give special look on garments. So, when a buyer specifies for these types of printing then you have to go for it.