Categories : Custom T-shirts Types of T-shirt Printing

Various Types of T-shirt Printing

Types of T-shirt Printing…

If you are looking to have customized t-shirts made then there are a number of different tshirt printing choices available. Some of these methods you can produce yourself. Others must be done by professional t-shirt printing companies using professional equipment.

These different t-shirt printing systems have strengths as well as limitations. The following information should give you some ideas as to what is available to make your shirts.

Of course, any experienced printer will be able to tell you simply by looking at your artwork and the number of tees that you require, which process will give you the best results.


T-shirts Printed Using T-shirt Transfers

An Automated Commercial Heat Press is Used in several Various Types of T-shirt Printing for printing t-shirtsWe’ll start with t-shirt printing using t-shirt transfer paper. Printing shirts with transfers is separated into different types, each requiring its own specialized transfer papers.

The first variation of this paper is designed for t-shirt printing on white and light colour shirts with an ink jet or laser printer. Any white areas that are in the design are transparent so when printed onto the shirt these parts of the drawing will be the colour of the shirt.

For example, t-shirts with the Canadian flag printed on a yellow shirt would be red and yellow instead of red and white.

We specialize in this method of customizing t-shirts.

For more info on this style of t-shirt printing please go to custom t-shirts on white and light colours.

If your t-shirt project requires darker colour shirts then there is a paper specifically designed for that. The difference is that this paper is opaque so the fabric colour won’t show through and it is also coated with white ink. This paper is available for ink jet and laser printers.

Click on the hyperlink for more information on t-shirt printing on dark t-shirts.


New T-shirt Transfer Papers for Customizing T-shirts

The transfer paper technology has made some significant advances recently.

There are now transfer papers that will print white text and images on dark colour t-shirts.

There is another transfer paper that will allow colour t-shirt printing on dark shirts. If the ink colours are strong this paper works very well on colour shirts.

Another type of t-shirt transfer paper that is being used frequently by t-shirt printing companies is referred to as self weeding.

One of the downsides to printing with transfer papers is that if the paper is not trimmed properly you can see the polymer coating that was on the transfer paper in the areas where there was no ink.

These new self weeding papers transfer the ink only. We have an excellent self weeding paper that gives a screen printing look.

Finally the other major issue with t-shirt printing using transfer paper was durability. Many of the new papers when printed properly and washed according to the instructions will have your t-shirts stand up to 20 or more washes before fading.


Types of T-shirt Printing – Sublimation

Customized t-shirts using sublimation –shirt printing (dye sublimation) uses a special transfer paper designed for printers that use sublimation inks. When these transfers are applied to the t-shirt using a heat press the inks are converted into a gas and have the ability to bond with polyesters or acrylics. This method permanently “tattoos” your image to the t-shirt. Sublimation printing has a smooth touch and can reproduce photo quality designs and images.


Screen Printing

Screen printing, which is also referred to as silk screening is the tshirt printing method of using screens (a screen is like a stencil) that only allow one colour at a time to be printed onto the shirt. If your t-shirt project has two colours, you will need to have two different screens; three colours, three screens, etc.

For example, the famous shirts I (heart) NY would require two screens. One for the black text (I NY) and one for the red heart.


T-shirt Printing Using the Split Screen Transfer

Another one of the types of T-shirt printing is a variant of screen printing; the split screen transfer. We also specialize in this type of t-shirt printing. This method is also used by other t-shirt printing companies.

The design is outsourced to a company that specializes in taking the image and printing it onto paper, creating a transfer using the same ink formula that is used in regular screen printing. These transfers are then heat pressed onto the shirts. You can use one ink colour or a few.

These transfers can be printed on any colour of shirt.

Click on this link for more information on using screen printing


T-shirts with Full Colour Screen Printing

It is also possible to do full colour screen printing. This printing process uses the same four ink colours found in colour printers (CMYK – cyan, magenta, yellow and black). This method for printing t-shirts is quite expensive to set up so it is ideally suited for large orders or 1,000 or more.


T-shirt Printing with Cad-cut Vinyl

Cad-cut vinyl letters, numbers and patterns. This t-shirt printing system uses different types of materials that are cut out using a cutting plotter. It can cut out a number of shapes such as stars, hearts etc. as well as names and numbers for team t-shirts.



Incidentally, Stahls Canada (who provided this video) is one of our suppliers.


Cad-cut Digital Printing

Another method is cad-cut digital printing. This t-shirt printing system prints your design in full colour including white and then trims away the non-printed areas again using a plotter. This is one of the more recent procedures that is gaining popularity.



Embroidery can be done by hand but if you are printing a quantity of shirts specialized sewing machines are used. The yarn or thread is sewn onto the material to create a design. One or many colours of thread can be used to create text, logos or other graphics.

Printing on t-shirts is normally restricted to smaller images, logos and embellishments since larger images using this for of t-shirt printing can pucker the fabric.


DTG – Direct to Garment T-shirt Printing

DTG – Direct to Garment printing uses specialized t-shirt printing printers where the shirt is drawn through the printer and the printer prints right onto the tee shirt. These printers also include a white ink cartridge so they can print on any colour of t-shirt.


Hand Painting or Airbrushing

Hand Painting or Airbrushing t-shirt printing is another method of decorating your t-shirts. If you have an artistic flair the t-shirt can be your canvas. There are also a number of people who specialize in air brushing and can create your fully customized t-shirts.


Patches & Appliques

Patches & Appliques can be used to embellish your customized t-shirts. These are iron on or sew on snowflakes, stars etc. that you can purchase at your local craft store for your do-it-yourself tee shirt printing. You can also purchase iron-on letters and numbers as a do-it-yourself alternative to screen printing. Appliques are frequently embroidered and they can include rhinestones, metal studs and other enhancing materials.

In conclusion you can see that there are several types of t-shirt printing methods that’ll enable you to create your customized t-shirts.