From Screen Print to Sublimation, What T-Shirt Printing Method is Best For You?

Are you considering getting custom t-shirts printed with your corporate logo or team name? Once you start shopping around, you’ll find there are heaps of print options available. But how do you know which t-shirt printing method is best for you?

Personalised t-shirts are a favourite apparel order at Payless Promotions. We love seeing clients’ unique custom designs! If you want to see your own artwork on great quality t-shirts and custom apparel, we can help you understand the difference between Australia’s various printing methods.

Keep reading below to learn about the favoured apparel printing techniques for printed t-shirts and discover which method suits your needs best.

Key Takeaways

  • Screen printing provides longevity and possesses Pantone matching capabilities.
  • Heat transfer is a versatile option for smaller projects and offers the advantage of full-colour designs, but it may become costlier for bulk orders due to manual labour.
  • Process print is cost-effective for larger orders, yet the initial setup costs may pose a challenge for smaller jobs.
  • Direct garment printing is ideal for smaller team projects but might not match the quality of screen printing.

Deep Dive Into Custom T-Shirt Printing

Screen Print

Screen Printing has been done since 960 and is the oldest-known method for custom t-shirt printing. But you know what they say, if it isn’t broken, it doesn’t need to be fixed. That’s why this printing method is still one of the most common printing techniques still to this day.

Screen Printing offers a Pantone Matching System (PMS). Meaning this print style can match your exact colour requirements. Today, screen print machines can be fully automated, allowing cheaper print costs per t-shirt!

However, the downside to Screen Printing is that it requires the setup of physical screens. These can be expensive, bulky and difficult to store. The screen setup costs around $75 per screen, and a new screen must be made for each colour in each print position.

Heat Transfer

Heat Transfer is a two-step process. 

  1. Your t-shirt logo or design will be printed onto a transparent film using a high-quality inkjet computer printer. 
  2. The printed design is transferred from the film to the t-shirt using a heat press.

The same heat press process can be used to place precision-cut vinyl lettering or designs onto custom t-shirts. This is most commonly used for placing surnames or nicknames on the back of team sports uniforms or year 12 leavers hoodies.

Heat Transfer is an excellent option for smaller projects requiring full-colour designs as the cost is the same as one-colour prints. However, if your t-shirt printing dreams require bulk orders, remember that Heat Transfer can get costly because of the manual labour involved.

Also, the sharpness of Heat Transfer print is generally not as good as Screen Print.

Process Print

This is a print process that has been borrowed from general printing and applied to garments. The three primary colours (red, yellow, blue) and black are applied to the garment in specific percentages and then mixed together to form any required colour.

In the printing world, this is also known as CMYK printing (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key).

Process Print is cost-effective for larger print projects because the print machine is mostly automated. Unfortunately, Process Print is not as cost-effective for smaller print projects, as approximate setup costs start at roughly $300.

The print quality and colour matching for Process Print is relatively good, but for the higher price you pay, it might be worth looking at other options.

Direct Garment Printing

Direct Printing is the newest of the custom apparel printing options. This print technique can be applied directly to the garment without going through the extra step of a heat press. It is a slow process best suited to smaller shirt printing projects and minimum orders such as hens and bucks celebrations.

Although direct-to-garment printing is a cost-effective option, the print quality doesn’t compare to other alternatives, such as Screen Printing.


Colourflex printing is a sticker type of print that uses water-based inks and is made from eco-friendly materials. Although Colourflex can’t produce metallic or neon colours, it is ideal for printing full-colour complex images like photographs onto t-shirts.

Start Designing Your Favourite Custom T-Shirt

Selecting the best t-shirt printing method for your custom apparel is crucial in bringing your design to life. Each technique has its advantages and considerations, from screen printing to heat transfer.

At Payless Promotions, we understand that your t-shirt represents the entire team. Our commitment to delivering quality garments printed with precision is reflected in our diverse printing options.

We can help you choose the best printing technique based on your needs, the design and order quantity. Contact Payless Promotions today for further information about our printing methods.