When you want to get an image or logo on apparel such as a shirt, hat or jacket, there are two major processes you'll want to consider: screen printing (i.e., silk screening) and custom embroidery. It's impossible to say one of these processes is better than the other without understanding your budget and the item you are looking to personalize.
Depending on the purpose of your custom apparel and budget, you'll want to learn the major differences between these two methods before deciding to bulk order any custom apparel.
As Connecticut's leading supplier of custom promotional products, we have experience producing both embroidered pieces as well as screen printed items. Here are some of the key differences between screen printing and embroidery that you're going to want to know before making any decisions.
What Is Embroidery?
Custom embroidery involves stitching on fabric that was produced using needle and thread. This could be a polo, jacket, hat, tshirt, etc, and the end result will look very professional.
Custom embroidery is done using a computerized embroidery machine where your logo will be reproduced onto an item using different colored threads.
The custom embroidery process is fairly simple: You would need to send a digital file of your company's logo that would run through the machine's computer program. This would help instruct the embroidery machine to stitch in a certain pattern that closely resembles your logo on the fabric.
What Is Screen Printing?
Screen printing (i.e., silk screening) involves a process where ink is pressed onto fabric. This process uses a stencil for each color in your logo, and a mesh screen would be created for each individual color. Different colored inks would then be pressed into the mesh screens and pushed through onto the apparel.
Which Process Is Better Quality?
It's hard to say that one of these methods produces better quality than the other without considering the actual apparel item. We often recommend the following:
- Embroidery: Company shirts, polos, golf shirts, jackets and hats
- Screen printing: Tshirts and hoodies
The reason we highly recommend embroidery over screen printing for most items is because it looks much more professional. Screen printing on high quality fabrics like company polos or golf hats can appear "cheap" looking. Also, stitched pieces will last much longer over time than the inks used in screen printing.
Times when we wouldn't recommend custom embroidery would include large designs where embroidery would come across as heavy on the fabric as well as logos that have a lot of detail, small text or gradients. These are tough to reproduce clearly using digital embroidery software. These types of details come across much better and clearer using screen printing techniques.
The reason we recommend screen printing on tshirts and hoodies is because embroidery often seems very bulky on these types of items. It could also create puckering or wrinkling if the item's fabric isn't heavy enough, like most cotton tshirts.
What Is The Difference In Cost?
Sometimes a decision about embroidery vs screen printing is a matter of cost. It's impossible to say definitively that one process is always going to be cheaper than the other. The final cost will completely depend on the fabric, how advanced the logo is, how many different colors are being used, placement, size, and quantity.
The easiest way to get an answer to this question is to reach out to a reputable custom apparel company with your order specifications to compare pricing.