Screen printing vs Digital printing, an honest review.

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Experiencing difficulties choosing between the different printing methods for your project? Do you want to understand the difference between Screen Printing and Digital printing? When it comes to printing techniques, each produces results that are unique and cannot be easily replicated by another technique, hence it is ideal to understand the different printing technique and the results it produces.

 For over 40 years Signprint has been using both these printing techniques to produce various types of signage and working with these printing techniques has helped us understand their strength and weakness. In this article, we are going to provide an honest comparison between Screen and Digital printing so you can decide which technique is ideal for you and your business.

About the printing method.

 Screen Printing

This is an old printing technique that uses a mesh frame, ink, and stencils to create a print. The mesh frame is coated in an emulsion which is hardened using UV light and washed to create a stencil of the image to be printed.

The ink is spread through the mesh and onto the surface to create the stencilled image. When using multiple colours, the screen and the substrate need to go through the printing press multiple times. The direct application of paint onto the surface through the mesh results in vivid colours and is often used to print on fabric and textiles.

This printing style is used for mass production or printing on multiple surfaces due to the low printing cross, it is also a popular printing technique among artists, who use it to create various types of art, such as pop art which was popularised by Andy Warhol. 

You can find more in-depth articles on screen printing here.

Digital Printing

This printing process involves printing a digital image from a computer directly onto a surface using ink or laser. This form of printing is very popular and can be found in most households and offices, among other places.

Digital printers use either ink, Electromagnetic charges, or toners to create the desired image. This technique is ideal for printing small batches as the cost of ink is too high to justify mass printing. The colour registration through digital printing is perfect and produces vivid and detailed images which are ideal for artists and photographers.

For more information, you can check our article on digital printing here

What is the difference?

 

                              Screen Printing

                          Digital printing

Colour

  • The colour produced by this method is vibrant.
  • It can easily produce PMS colours.
  • Multi-colouring an image is harder as the colours needs to be applied individually and in layers.
  • When applying a new colour to the image a new screen needs to be used.
  •  The colour is not as vivid as Screen printed images but can print multiple colours at once.
  • It uses CMYK colours but it can simulate the PMS colours using CMYK, although the result is not the best.
  • Perfect colour registration and superior colour blending abilities.

Image Detail

  • Using a high mesh count can produce detailed images although it is not as detailed as digital printing.
  • Can print highly detailed and photographic images

Durability

  • Using the correct type of ink and curing it can make the image last much longer. The images can also be waterproofed.
  • Digitally printed images are not as durable and the ink fades quickly if exposed to the sun.

Setting Up

  • Setting up a screen-printing device is easier than offset printing but harder than digital printing.
  • It requires choosing the screen (mesh count), creating the stencil, setting the press and applying paint once we position the screen.
  • Setting up a digital printer is very easy and quick, which is the reason for its popularity in households across the world.
  • The set-up is simple, the printer needs to be connected to the computer that has the image file, and a stack of paper is placed into the printer on which the selected image is printed.

Print Volume

  • Allows us to print the same image onto multiple objects and surfaces.
  • It is used to continuously print large batches.
  • Good option for printing smaller batches but printing larger batches is not cost-effective due to the cost of the ink.

Speed

  • This method is slower than digital printing due to the time it takes to set up the screens, prints a copy and wash the screens after.
  • creating multicoloured complex images requires multiple screens which need to be replaced when changing colours.
  • The paint needs to be exposed to UV light and left to dry, which might take a while unless a printing press is used which includes a UV curer.
  • Much faster than screen printing due to the quick set-up and the ability to apply different coloured ink at the same time.
  • The thin paint causes it to dry out faster, preventing smudging.

Surface types

  • This technique is the best option for printing on fabrics and textiles as the colour and print are extremely vivid.
  • Can be used to print on various types of surfaces.
  • This technique is mostly used for printing on paper but can be used to print of various surface types, from metal to vinyl.
  • Printing on fabrics requires the use of specialised ink.

Cost

  •  It is more cost-effective when printing large batches of the same image.
  • The initial setup and creation of the frame are costly.
  • This technique is ideal for printing small batches.
  • No additional setup cost.

Which printing technique to choose?

Choosing which printing technique to use depends on the print job it will be used for. While digital printing is ideal for small jobs and detailed images, the screen printing method is ideal for big batches, the production of vivid colours and printing on fabric. Understanding what the different printing methods have to offer and what they excel in should help simplify the choosing process and minimise the production expense while producing desired results.

Want our recommendation?

If you are still unsure and would like our recommendation or want to request a quote then you can call or email us and our experienced staff will help you with your needs. You can find our contact information on our website here.

 

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