Here at Phoenix Dawn Designs, we offer three styles of printing for clothing to make sure you get the best deal for the size of your order. For most longer runs, screen printing will be used. This method is the most cost effective for most printed clothing, and produces a high quality print that will hold up for years.
But what if I just want one or two shirts?
For any run less than twelve pieces, dye sublimation printing will be used. This process can be used for as little as one print, as there is no screen setup involved. While the best price option for short runs, the prints will not stand up to washing as well as a screen printed item. The lasting quality is still far greater than a home iron-on transfer.
Just what is dye sublimation, anyway?
Dye sublimation is a transfer technique similar to home iron-on transfers. Unlike what you can make at home, however, these transfers are printed with a special dye-based ink. When applied to a suitable fabric with heat and pressure, the dye migrates into the fabric, creating a mostly-permanent image on the fabric. There are a couple of limitations with dye sublimation:
- Fabrics must be at least 50% polyester for the color to bond. The lower the polyester content, the more muted the colors will appear. We recommend using Sublivie or similar brand spun-poly shirts, which are 100% polyester and allow for the brightest and most accurate colors.
- Because there is no way to print white ink, white areas of your image will be voids on the transfer. If you print on a fabric color other than white, white areas of your image will show as the fabric color. Additionally, the fabric color will show through the entire print, giving a tint to your image.
- Because dye sublimation inks are activated by heat, you must take care when washing items printed with this method. Clothing washed in very hot water will begin to show signs of fading quickly as dye leeches out from the fabric.
So, what if I’m doing repetitive short runs of the same image?
If you’ll be producing a large number of identical items in small batches, screen printed heat transfers are another production option. The transfers are purchased in advance, and applied to clothing with a heat press as orders are placed. With this method, you get the flexibility, appearance, and durability of screen printing with the convenience of being able to place small orders.