Screen Print vs Digital Print

For product designs and printing t-shirts, two printing techniques are suitable. They are screen printing and digital printing. Anyways, both of these techniques give no objection in their outcomes. So, it is quite questionable which one owns the crown in a battle of screen print vs digital print.

Indeed, their features and strength vary from each other. So it is inevitable that screen printing and digital printing techniques are fantastic in their way. Not only that, each of them is different in budget, vibrancy, features, and so on.

If screen printing is effective for large projects, digital printing is best for small projects. Meanwhile, screen printing is a popular technique for its versatility, whereas digital printing sets a benchmark for its flexibility. Now you must be eager to know more differences between them. Accordingly, you will get all of your questions’ answers in this article with a mere comparison between screen printing and digital printing.

Screen Print vs Digital Print

Screen Print

A Screen print is a popular technique where a mesh requires transferring ink towards a substrate. However, the mesh is not using in impermeable areas where inks can’t go with the help of a blocking stencil. Nonetheless, screen printing includes a screen or stencil. And by using this stencil, inks are applying in layers to all printing surfaces. 

In screen printings, one color is applying with one stencil at a time. Similarly, another stencil is used with another color, which is how screen printing goes on. Henceforth, the finished look of screen printing appears attractive.

Features of Screen Printing

men working screen printing

Screen printing played a great role in availing exclusive materials with genuine designs. But have you ever thought about what features make this screen printing a show’s topper? To clear your questions, go through the key features below.


No doubt, screen printing has unique effects. The ink used for screen printing is quite thick, and it is usually applied in layers. Simultaneously, inks and dyes for screen printing are more available than digital printing. As a result, anyone can create customizable t-shirts with their designs.

Cost Effective 

Materials of repeat batches and high volume are preferable for screen printing. Although the set-up for screen printing is expensive, it costs very less when we order more prints. However, there is always a minimum order quantity as extra materials are required for setting up.


Screen printing is famous for its versatility. For instance, screen printing goes well with different surfaces, materials, and fabrics. Furthermore, cotton and cotton blends adapt nicely with this printing technique. And if you want, you can rearrange your artwork into various angles on your product. 

Vibrant Colors

Screen printing does a great job when it comes to appealing nostalgic, and softer looks. Also, a brighter color finish is seen with the ink application of screenprints. Hence, dark color materials and fabrics will look livelier than before.

Uses of Screen Print

The use of screen print is huge and versatile. Also, this screenprint technique requires while forming different materials. Such as latex, plastics, and textiles. Likewise, screen prints are not being done under extreme pressure. For instance, you can screen printing techniques on soft surfaces, like- wallpaper, clothing, balloons, and so on.

For those looking for vibrancy on colors, screen printing can be a reliable option for them. Moreover, specialty products look amazing with screen printings. Suppose you want to make your dark shirt filled with vibrant prints. In such cases, nothing can be better than screen printing. 

Screen Print vs Digital Print

Digital Print 

The Digital printing process is newer than screen printing and includes various complex computing. Whenever you put an image for digital printing, their machines analyze the pictures and convert them into formats. As a result, users use these formats to print from their required surfaces directly. Since the ink in digital printing adheres directly, no heat or applique is seen on its prints. Yet, each digital printing process has its separate strengths.

Features of Digital Printing

digital printing

Digital printing is something that the printing industry uses to develop its artworks. Additionally, personalized products and advertising prefer digital printing more than screen printing. Now, you must consider what features make this digital printing so popular. Let us see through some points here.

Faster Turnaround 

We know digital printing does not require any screen or set-up. Therefore, it is less time-consuming than other printing techniques. Whereas many printing systems don’t perform great without multiple screens. But digital printing does all of it in times of complex designs too.


Many people like to personalize items frequently and change marketing materials. For such tasks, digital printing is a fine option as it incorporates simpler than screen printing. 

Low Cost

Generally, digital printing methods are used for highly detailed designs. Compared to screen printing, digital printing costs less for set-up, which is amazing for small-scale printing. 

Nonetheless, digital printing conveys a photographic quality every time. Therefore, you will get more details in pictures than the traditional prints. Alongside, digital printings give a crisp and modern finish which is outstanding for light color shirts.

Uses of Digital Print

Usually, for modern and crisp finishes, digital printing tends to be a great source. For this reason, people use digital printing for coupons and direct mails. Compared to screen printing, digital printing offers more detailed works.

On the flipping side, digital printing works are being done faster screen printing works. Hence, this technique can use in almost everything to help personalize work smoothly. 

In particular, digital prints have a vital use in smaller quantities of works where high details are essential. By not using any screens, digital printing offers photographic prints in authentic ways. If you want to print some light color shirts, digital printings are preferable because of their shining designs.

Screen Print Vs Digital Print: Comparison

screen print vs digital print

Here we will see some key differences between screen printing and digital printing. These differences will make you more stern about their comparison and give you prescribed information that may support your preferences.


How much you will spend on your prints depends on their quantity. For instance, screen printing is not a good idea for small copies. If you see, screen printing costs more in times of initial setup. And these screen printing machines work out cheaper with lots of prints after being calibrated. Hence, you will not need to set your printer again and again. 

Comparatively, digital printing machines are cheaper when printing in fewer quantities. Again, no origination fee need in a setup of a digital printing machine.

Sometimes, the price of each print depends on how many colors you want to use. But in terms of black and white digital printing, the price is cheaper. On the contrary, no difference will remain if you are eager to work with one color or multiple colors in digital printing. On the other hand, you will get an additional screen for each color in screen printing. So it is inevitable that the different colors will cost extra.

Age of Process

The root of screen printing is accelerating since Egyptian times. And then, the process started in China in 900 AD. In that time, artists stretched silk fabric in frames and used to pour hot beeswax on them. Consequently, this screen printing took place as a commercial process after 1880.

Nevertheless, digital printing is a new process that has started recently. Meanwhile, digital printing presses were introducing at the same time during 1990. In this way, the digital printing process start to emerge, and publishing digital prints were done with a click.


Considering the quality, digital prints seem more realistic since they give detailed works throughout. Similarly, screenprints leave no stone unturned in conveying a vibrant finish every time. For printing on darker surfaces, nothing can be better than screen printing. On the flipping side, digital printing suits better as their inks are thin, making the final prints precise.

Special Effects of Screen Printing 

Unless we know the special effects of screen printing, there is no point in going for it. Go through the peak points below to make sure screen printing is nowhere less than any other printing process.

  • Discharge- By having a nice discharging ability, screen printing allows you to remove dye chemically. Henceforth, no pigments remain on fabrics.
  • Water-based- Because of being water-based, inks get absorbed into fabrics easily. 
  • Puff- The puff here gives a raised and soft feel after expanding. 
  • Suede- Like a puff, screen printing gives a fuzzy and soft texture on surfaces. 
  • High density- Conveys 3-dimensional print by creating layers with ink.
  • Shimmer- Users will get a unique iridescent shimmer.
  • Plasticharge- Involves discharge and plastic charge.
  • Clear gel- Combines with other prints with a thick coating, i.e. glossy.
  • Metallic- Gives a shiny look, e.g. copper, silver, gold. 
  • Fluorescent- Contains neon colors which are known as “day glow”. 
  • Glitter- Provides a sparkly look with glitters and a clear. 
  • Crackles- Cracks or splits occur while curing for a distressed look.

Special Effects of Digital Printing 

Like screen printing, digital printing offers suitable designs on materials. But why are you praising digital printing more, you will get to know that by some special effects below.

  • Color blending- Some intricate designs and photographs work well with color blends. In such terms, digital printing tends to be more beneficial than screen printing. 
  • Consistency- When prints are printing digitally, they appear more consistent after setting up the files.
  • Quantity- Especially for digital prints you will need less setup. To have limited prints, digital printing is a great substitute. Similarly, screen printing is suitable for small quantities of prints.
  • Details- Digital prints provide clear and precise print. Besides, various types of designs look for better candidates like this technique.

Screen Print Vs Digital Print: Key Differences

Pros of Screen Print 

  • Suitable and affordable for large batches
  • Design replacement is effective 
  • Different artworks can be printed in different positions or angles
  • Ideal for changing designs. The reason is, cost per unit tends to be less when we order. However, an initial setup is quite expensive. And when we need more copies, the set-up seems to be cheaper. And when we are done with the screen print’s set-up, no fees will be needed further.
  • Best for printing off badges 

Cons of Screen Print

  • Each batch gives only one design
  • Requires a large investment 
  • Expensive when used to print with different colors

Pros of Digital Print

  • Works faster than any other printer. So those who remain on a tight schedule can rely on digital printing
  • For few prints, nothing can be as cost-effective as digital printing
  • All in all, flexibility is like an essence in digital printing. Therefore, you will not have to worry about frequent changes that arise while digital print. Especially for personalized mail
  • Gives a crisp and sharp finish

Cons of Digital Print 

  • Gives certain errors during color matching. Besides, the colors of the print may appear slightly different from the colors of the screen.
  • Sometimes cracks are being seen on the folds. Also, the inks in digital prints are not absorbed completely in papers.
  • Not affordable while printing lots of prints

Frequently Asked Questions 

Which Fabric Does not Suit Screen Printing? 

As mentioned before, screen printing is completely water-based. Therefore, the cotton fabric seems trickier to use while screen printing. The reason is cotton is too absorbent and seems challenging when used with water-based inks. Moreover, cotton creates a microclimate which is not suitable for screen printing. 

How Many Types of Screen Printing Are There, What Are They?

To have a broader reach, we should not be stuck with only one type of printing technique. Likewise, screen printing offers varieties to hand over some options to the users. Generally, there are six types of screen printing. They are- halftone printing, spot color screen printing, grayscale printing, CMYK printing, duotone printing, and simulated printing. 

Which Material is Best for Digital Printing?

Unquestionably, cotton is the best material for digital printing. Yet, cotton gives moisture resistance, comfort, and popularity as a fine source of digital print materials. Other than that, there are many more materials suitable for digital printing, such as card stock, paper, polyester, fabric, canvas, etc. Indeed, cotton beats all these materials when digital printing technique is applied.

What Are the Important Parts of Digital Printing? 

Nowadays, people commonly use two methods of digital printing. They are- toner-based or electrophotographic and ink-based or inkjet. Again, many industrialists use these two technologies in almost every printing device. Even small desktops, high-speed digital presses, and large volume desktops do flawless tasks with ink-based and toner-based digital prints.

With How Many Colors Screen Printing is Preferable? 

Screen printing is preferable with multiple colors, i.e. you can use as many colors as you want. Consequently, your screen printing design will look commendable in all terms. Anyways, each color in screen prints increases the price of finished products like t-shirts and others. But if you want to save your money, go with limited colors, then 1 to 3 colors can be perfect for this printing technique. 


No matter what printing technique you choose, make sure you are going with the right one. Similarly, the battle of screen print vs digital print gives us two options for some amazing prints. Still, we want to see which technique wins. 

I would say digital printing is a better alternative than screen printing. The reason is digital prints come out faster and are very cost-effective for a small number of prints. Henceforth, professional artworks and business production go smoothly. But that does not mean screen printing is lacking behind. They also turn out like magic when it is about versatility, vibrant colors, etc. 

However, digital printing is better since consistency, details, and flexibility are more important. 

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