Since t-shirt evolved from undergarment in the 19th century, many organisations have adopted t-shirt as part of their uniforms. Ready-made t-shirts are easily available for you to print or embroider your logo but lack the unique features that portray your organisational culture. With custom made corporate t-shirts, you can design distinctive style to reflect your corporate identity and choose fabric and printing or embroidery method that best suits your needs.
In Top 3 Things to Consider When Creating Your Corporate T-shirt, Part 1, we shared how to design your corporate t-shirt by displaying your creativity on the collar, sleeves and front of t-shirt to portray the right image of your organisation.
The second part of this three-part series focused on how to select the right fabric to match the use of the corporate t-shirt.
This last part of the series, we focus on how to choose the right printing method or embroidery to display your logo and graphics.
Part 3: How to choose the right printing method or embroidery for your corporate t-shirts?
Your group identity and graphics can be displayed on your corporate t-shirts through printing or embroidery. The desired effects for your design and keeping cost within budget can be achieved by selecting the right printing or embroidery technique. The key factors to consider are:
Desired appearance of logos and graphics;
Details and colours of logos and graphics;
Quantity of t-shirts; and
Type of fabric chosen.
Formal Appearance: Embroidery
Embroidery, a method of decorating fabric through stitching with thread, is popular among corporate organisations for presenting their logos on the left chest of a polo t-shirt. Some organisations may choose to embroider their logo at the back of t-shirt below the neckline or on sleeves.
Left: People's Association t-shirt with logo embroidery on left chest
Right: Golden Village crew t-shirt with embroidery at the back
Embroidery of corporate logo looks good on fabrics with a smooth surface such as single jersey or interlocks, and even better on textured fabrics such as honeycomb and pique, as it has a “3-dimensional” and formal appearance.
It is economical to choose embroidery for small logos even if it involves multiple colours. Embroidery set up cost is dependent on the size rather than the number of colours. Large logos that require thousands of stitches and are machine-time consuming would naturally be costlier.
Nevertheless, logo details are crucial for small & colourful logos. For instance, an intricate logo design with many small dots in different colours may not be suited for embroidery. In such circumstance, silkscreen printing will be a better option.
Cost savings for large t-shirt quantity: Silkscreen printing
Silkscreen printing transfers an artwork onto the t-shirt by applying ink through a stencil attached to a fine mesh screen. The ink is transferred to the t-shirt in the areas not covered by the stencil.
Left: Silkscreen printed cotton round neck t-shirt
Right: Polo t-shirt with silkscreen print at the back
It is one of the most popular and cost-effective way to display logos and graphics on large quantity of corporate t-shirts. Each colour of the artwork is applied to the t-shirt through a separate mesh and cost may increase with more colours required. When large quantity of t-shirts is involved, silkscreen printing brings about economy of scale and cost savings is achieved.
Good for cotton, polyester and blended fabrics, silkscreen printing works well with all colours except where the logo and graphics contain colour gradients or are too intricate. For large graphics, water-based ink is recommended as it would not crack easily after multiple washes.
Easy graphics customisation for small t-shirt quantity: Heat transfer printing
The preferred method of printing personalised t-shirt, heat transfer printing is a process whereby the artwork is printed in reverse on a heat transfer medium such as a special paper. The heat transfer medium is then placed on the t-shirt and subjected to high temperature and pressure for a short time. After the t-shirt is cooled, the paper is peeled away and the artwork is transferred to the t-shirt.
With the use of software to print the artwork, heat transfer printing allows graphics to be altered in unlimited options. It offers a fast turnaround time for printing small quantity of personalised team t-shirts such as class t-shirts, athletes jersey or team building t-shirts. Different names and numbers can be easily printed on the team t-shirts giving recognition to each individual.
Left: Heat transfer printed round neck t-shirt
Right: Class t-shirts with individual names and numbers
It is a good option for producing multi-colour artwork on cotton, polyester and blended fabrics. Digital photographic images can be printed in good quality. Unlike silkscreen printing, cost of heat transfer printing does not increase when more colours are used.
Intricate prints with colour gradient: Dye sublimation or direct-to-garment printing
Dye sublimation and direct-to-garment printing are two techniques good for printing logos and graphics with intricate details or colour gradients. Choosing the right method to use is dependent on the type of fabric used.
Left: Direct-to-garment printed t-shirt
Right: Sublimation printing for logo with colour gradient
a. Permanent print on polyester fabric: Dye sublimation printing
A technique that enables the ink to penetrate fabric and becomes part of the structure, dye sublimation printing offers durable printed images that do not fade or crack even after multiple washing. In this method, the ink is turned into gas when specific level of heat and pressure is applied and infused into the fabric.
The desired colour gradient effects can be achieved through printing logos and graphics on polyester fabric in white or light colours. If a black t-shirt is preferred, the whole white t-shirt can be dye sublimated into a black t-shirt with the detailed graphics.
Cost does not increase when more colours are used.
b. High resolution graphics print on cotton fabric: Direct-to-Garment Printing
Using modified inkjet technology to apply special inks directly to the t-shirt, direct-to-garment printing (DTG) offers high resolution graphics print.
Good for cotton t-shirts, DTG replicates photographs and paintings on t-shirts with every detail captured. It also works well for printing graphics with colour gradient.
Choose the most appropriate printing or embroidery technique to enhance your creativity. Contact your t-shirt designer for more information.
End of Part III
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