Screen printing vs heat transfer? Choosing between these methods can be overwhelming. Both printing techniques are great for branding promotional products and custom promotional merchandise. So to help you decide which printing method is right for you, we will weigh the pros and cons of each method.

Silkscreen Printing vs Heat Transfer

Silkscreen Printing vs Heat Transfer

Silkscreen Printing vs Heat Transfer

This technique uses woven mesh to transfer designs onto a substrate. The ink will be applied on the mesh and will be spread by a squegee. Only one color can be used in one mesh so if the design requires more colors, you will need multiple mesh to create designs with vivid colors.

Screen Printing vs Heat Transfer

Screen Printing vs Heat Transfer

To know more about this printing technique, why not check these blogs out? In this blog, we discuss the features and benefits of this printing technique.


Also known as digital printing, heat transfer is a printing technique wherein the logo or design is transferred from a heat activated source to the garment/material by applying heat and pressure. There are various heat transfer techniques: sublimation, inkjet transfer, and vinyl transfers.

Below is a heat press, used in heat printing.

Silkscreen Printing vs Heat Transfer

Silkscreen Printing vs Heat Transfer

To learn more about this process, do check out this blog:


Screen Printing vs Heat Transfer – What are the Pros and Cons?

Screen printing vs Heat transfer- which printing technique is best for me? Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. One technique can be more profitable than the other depending on the volume of products to be customized and type of material to be printed on. Impact to the environment should also be taken into consideration.

How many products?

If it involves printing large batches of garments, then screen printing would be ideal. However, this will not be a good option for printing smaller batches of merchandise because of the labor and equipment used. For each color, a different screen is used. So, the more complex the design is, the more screens are used to ensure that the desired color and design are achieved.

On the other hand, heat transfer would be great for small batches of garments or custom promotional merchandise. Designs can be manipulated digitally so modifying the design is so easy.


Design Quality

One of the reasons screen printing remains one of the most used printing technique is because it creates long-lasting and vibrant patterns on garments and other materials such as plastic, silicone, wood, and glass. This is also perfect when designs require one or few solid colors. Another advantage of screen printing is that you can emboss, add glitters, or make the prints glow in the dark!

Heat transfer, on the other hand can give you vivid and detailed prints so this is ideal for complex designs with plenty of colors. However, the durability of the printed design may fade away more easily than screen printed ones. What’s more, the printed designs could appear stiff as compared to screen printed designs.



A different screen is required for each color, which means the designer will have to use multiple screens to really achieve complex designs. Customizing large batches of branded bar towels, promotional printed T-Shirt, and custom phone accessories using this method will prove more economical than heat printing. However, if you’re customizing a few items that have small details and plenty of colors, the whole process can be costly and time-consuming.

As for heat transfer, set up cost can be quite inexpensive especially if the products to be printed on are small to medium size. This is also perfect for customizing a small batch of products. For large items such as tablecloth, umbrella or customized bed sheets, a large printer will be used. The overhead cost can be a bit pricier than, say, a t-shirt heat press.


Environmental Impact

Of course, aside from the financial and aesthetic aspects of each printing method, we should also consider their impact to the environment.

Plastisol, a PVC-based ink, is the commonly-used ink used in screen printing. However, it poses health and environmental hazards as it contains carcinogen. However, there’s a greener alternative. Water-based ink! In addition to being eco-friendly, it is versatile as well. With water-based ink, designers can print on just about any type of items and textile.

Using heat transfer to print on your merchandise is definitely environmentally-friendly. It does not require special dye or ink. The process involves applying heat directly onto heat-activated dye to transfer the prints to the substrate.


To see screen printing in action, check this video blog out!


So, which printing method works for you? To fully maximize the advantages of these methods, take into consideration the above-mentioned factors. More importantly, it is critical to speak with a product designer who can guide you all throughout the design process.

If you need help with customizing your marketing products and custom retail merchandise, don’t hesitate to get in touch with The ODM Group. Our team will assist you in designing and sourcing promotional products. We work closely with China and Vietnam factories and visit factory floors and conduct factory audits to ensure that your products are made according to your requirements.


What about marketing do you want to learn next? We listed some of our favorite blgos below!

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