Screen Printing vs Sublimation – Which One Is Better?

Screen printing vs. sublimation What’s the difference? If you’re in the business of selling custom T-shirts and apparel, you need to know the ins and outs of both techniques. This guide will compare the differences between screen printing vs. sublimation to help you decide which method is best for you.

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Screen Printing vs. Sublimation

What Is Screen Printing?

Screen printing, also known as silk screening, is a traditional method that involves creating a stencil that acts as a blocking tool. The printing machine uses the stencil to apply a design to the surface of a product. The process requires ink and screens for each color in the design. The ink is pushed through the screen onto the product.

What Is Screen Printing

What Is Sublimation?

Printing with sublimation, on the other hand, is an alternative means of transferring an image to various materials using heat and pressure. A sublimation printer uses ink ribbons that are applied directly onto the surface of a product. When heated at high temperatures, this ink turns directly into gas and permeates the fibers of a product. This allows for vivid designs to be produced on any given material or surface.

What Is Sublimation

Printing Process

Screen printing is a stencil method that applies ink onto the shirt through a fine mesh screen. The ink is then transferred through the screen onto the shirt when pressure is applied. A separate screen must be used for each color of ink in the design.

Sublimation printing utilizes heat transfer paper that contains special dye-based inks. When heat is applied, the dye turns into gas, which then permanently bonds with the fibers in the shirt. Designs can easily include multiple colors without any setup costs or extra time required for each color.

Comparison Screen Printing vs Sublimation – Help to Take Better Decision

These days, there are many different ways to print. You can print your design on screen, or you can use sublimation printing. While both of these methods have their advantages, it’s important to understand the various differences in order to determine which is best for your needs. This post is just an attempt to clear lots of confusion which ultimately will help you to choose using your better judgment.

1: Cost

Screen printing: The cost of screen printing is higher than sublimation printing due to the materials used and the amount of labor involved. It is best for businesses that need short-run, large orders.


Sublimation: The cost of sublimation printing is lower than screen printing because of the materials used and the speed at which it can be done. It is best for businesses that have small orders.

2: Quality

Screen printing has been around since the 1950’s and is a tried and true method for imprinting apparel. While the technique may have changed over time, one thing remains constant – quality. Screen printing produces the highest quality prints out there for the cost. Between the vibrant colors, sharp details and durability of the final product, it truly is the best option for a custom print job.


Sublimation printing has its own benefits as well. It has a high level of detail and can produce images that are not possible with screen printing such as photographic images.

3: Designs

Screen Printing: Screen printing uses a mesh stencil to create images on textiles or paper. It requires each color to be printed on its own stencil, so the more colors you use in your design, the more expensive it will be per piece.

Sublimation: Sublimation uses heat transfer technology to imprint designs onto fabrics or other substrates using special dyes that are transferred into gas when heated up in an oven before being cooled back down as solid matter again once cooled off after hours of exposure.

4: Durability

Screen printing is very durable. It was originally made as a method for printing on T-shirts, so it’s hard to mess with the durability of this print method. The ink that is used in screen printing is formulated specifically to be long-lasting and withstand years of wear and tear.

Sublimation printing is slightly more durable than digital printing. It’s also better at resisting scratches and fading than laser transfers or heat transfers. Sublimation prints are great if you want something that will last a long time without fading or peeling away from the material surface.

5: Versatility

Screen printing has the ability to print on a variety of materials. You can screen print on paper, fabric, metal and even wood. This versatility makes screen printing the perfect option for so many different types of projects.

Since sublimation prints are only done on polyester materials, it isn’t very versatile. However, you can use sublimation transfers to print on sublimation paper and then apply them to your project with a heat press.

A few major differences between screen printing and sublimation:

  • Screen printing is better for large, bold designs with relatively few colors
  • Sublimation can accommodate finer detail as well as more colors.
  • Screen printing yields a greater number of prints per hour.
  • Sublimation has a lower startup cost but can be more expensive in the long run.
  • Sublimation is only compatible with polyester or polyester-coated materials.
  • Screen printing can be applied to almost any surface.

When deciding which method to use, you will need to consider what type of design you have in mind, how many prints you intend to make, and what material you are printing on.

Advantages of Screen Printing Over Sublimation

One of the main advantages of screen printing is that it allows for the printing of high-quality images.

Screen printing also generally costs less than other types of printing, and, unlike sublimation, it is not restricted to a particular set of materials.

Finally, screen printing is a process that can be applied quickly and efficiently by machines.

Advantage of Sublimation Over Screen Printing

Sublimation is a great way to take your graphic design skills to the next level. What’s the advantage of sublimation over screen printing? Not much, if you ask us! They’re both pretty incredible.

But one thing that sublimation can do that screen printing can’t is allow you to print on any substance or surface, regardless of how rough or smooth it is. That means that if you want to use sublimation to print on something that’s not paper, like a mug or a t-shirt, it just won’t work with screen printing.

So if you’re trying to decide which method will help you achieve your goals and bring your plans to life, sublimation might be the way to go!

What to Consider When Deciding Between the Two?

When you’re deciding between screen printing and sublimation printing, there are a few things to consider.

  1. If you’re going to be producing large-scale orders of high-quality graphics with intricate designs, sublimation is the way to go. It allows for images in much higher resolution than screen printing.
  2. On the other hand, if your design is simpler or you need a lower quantity of printed items, screen printing will work just fine, and it’s a less expensive option.


In the end, both techniques are quite useful in a variety of different situations. For example, if you have a large quantity of units to be printed, sublimation offers a more cost-effective option. However, if the design is more complex or intricate, screen printing may be the way to go. The key to success is knowing which technique will work best for your specific needs and situation. I hope we’ve given you enough information to feel confident in your decision. If you want professional-quality products without a large upfront cost, sublimation is probably the best choice for you.