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All About Digital Screen Printing

The world of printed t-shirts has come a long way. Custom t-shirt printing began in the 1950s, signaling the beginning of a new era in fashion. It first started with Miami, Florida companies that began decorating t-shirts with local resorts’ names to attract more tourists to these areas. Thanks to this trend, screen printing was born, leading to a movement of expression and creativity worn against the backdrop of simple t-shirts.

However, with the rapid developments in technology, screen printing has now advanced into digital screen printing. It still belongs to the category of direct to garment printing, as the method still prints the design directly on the fabric. Here’s what you need to know about it:


What is Digital Screen Printing?

Digital screen printing is a method of printing designs straight onto a piece of fabric using a computer. You’ll first create the layout on your computer monitor, and once you’re done, it will use water-based CMYK inks to replicate the design onto the garment. With this technique, you can create designs with millions of colors, allowing you to explore your creativity.

It prints the colors simultaneously using small droplets of hot ink that cools immediately, allowing you to create endless color blends. It also gives you the option to print full-color photographs without making stencils or preparing silk screens. With this incredibly convenient technique, it’s much faster and more economical to print on a single piece of fabric, which would have been otherwise expensive and tedious through a silkscreen.


Digital Screen Printing and Old Silk Screens

The traditional method of silk screen printing requires a stencil for each color you want to print. While this is great for simple designs, it is almost impossible to work with complex pictures that use several colors. However, modern silkscreen technology utilizes light-sensitive emulsions to create the stencils on a computer, making one for each color. In some instances, it will have to conduct color separation imaging to create overlay patterns. Each color in the design needs a separate pass under the silkscreen, where a squeegee pushes the corresponding color ink onto the fabric through a screen. The ink must dry before adding another color.

Although silk screen printing is tedious, it does offer richer colors than digital screen printing. If you prefer having bright, vivid colors on your garment, using silkscreen may be a better option. However, digital screen printing is a much quicker and more cost-effective method for fulfilling a large order, like printing out t-shirts for an organization or a sports team.


Digital Screen Printing Isn’t Just for Fabrics

While digital screen printing is popularly used for garments, it also prints numerous other things. For instance, the microcomputer industry uses this technique to print on chips, although it uses electrically conducting inks instead of water-based CMYK ink.

The advent of inkjet printing in 1968 created a new movement of printing on other media, like canvas and vinyl. It has evolved throughout the years into innovations like giant fabric printers, which print repeated designs on fabric rolls. Industrial fabric printers can now customize images even when the material enters the manufacturing stage, offering a fantastic world of design and printing.



Digital screen printing has now made it possible to conceptualize a design and hold the final product, printed on fabric, in days. It’s proven to be a more economical way of printing designs on various media, especially if you need it quickly. With all that digital screen printing has to offer, it’s a no-brainer for your custom t-shirt printing needs.

Bauers Boutique offers screen printing in Rochester, NY, offering quick turnaround times with no minimum orders. Our services include custom screen printing and digital printing. Contact us today to get started on your next project!