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Digital Printing vs. Screen Printing – Which is Better?

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Shapco Bloger
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In this day and age, everything is turning digital, and it’s no surprise that printing is moving in the same direction too. For example, offset printing has long been the world’s most used printing process for decades, but with the advent of digital printing, more and more people now prefer the latter for its ease of use. Despite offset printing’s higher quality output, digital printing is catching on fast because of reduced pre-press process and initial cost.

Similar to offset printing, screen printing is another printing technique that’s been around for decades. The process is quite similar to using a stencil, because in screen printing, a design is imposed on a fine mesh or polyester, then the ink is pushed through the openings by wetting the substrate and transferred to the printing surface. The areas to be left blank are simply covered by impermeable substances to stop the ink from flowing onto the printing surface. Digital printing, on the other hand, prints a digital image directly onto the printing surface, either through inks (inkjet) or laser (toner) exposure.

Digital Printing vs Screen Printing

The question of which method of printing is better has been asked many times over the past few years, and the answer is not cut and dry. One printing method is not “better" than the other, but each one has their pros and cons depending on the type of print job. So if you’re trying to decide between digital printing and screen printing, you’ve come to the right place!

Advantages of Digital Printing
· Quick, low setup cost

· Easy to print multiple colors

· Better for short runs

· Variable data and customization options

· Better for photographic prints

· Design does not ‘bulge’ out

Disadvantages of Digital Printing
· Limited range of printable fabrics

· Not as durable as screen printing

· In many cases, can not print white color

· No reduced costs for bulk orders

Digital printing, as seen above, is more suited to smaller orders when you need a range of colors and customization, but not on light colored materials unless the digital printer is capable of using white ink, which many are not due to the expense. Unfortunately, it’s not as durable as screen printing and each unit cost just remains static, so digital printing is not the best choice in every scenario.

Advantages of Screen Printing
· Cost effective for bulk orders

· Highest quality output

· Durable prints

· Wide range of printable fabrics, including wood, glass, textiles, electronics, signs and more

· Easy to print on specific areas

Disadvantages of Screen Printing
· High initial setup cost and time

· Better for limited colors

· Design ‘bulges’ out

· No variable data or customization options

Screen printing, on the other hand, is more suited to high quality, professional looking prints if you’re okay with shelling out the extra cash for it. It isn’t recommended for photographic prints however, and is more suited to bulk orders with low customization/colors. There have been great advancements recently in large format digital printing that are narrowing the gap in capabilities and allowing a wider variety of printable substrates including wood, glass and more.

So there you have it, now that you know what each method of printing is good (or not-so-good) for, choose one according to your desired output and don’t forget to pick a great professional printing service!

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