Screen Printing Vs. Digital Printing: What is best for your project?

Silk,screen,printing,shirtChoosing the right method of printing is crucial when it comes to achieving the desired result for your project. Two of the most common printing methods used today are screen printing and digital printing. While both techniques have their merits, understanding the differences between them will help you make an informed decision. In this blog, we will explore the pros and cons of screen printing and digital printing, so you can determine which one suits your project best.

Screen Printing:

Screen printing, also known as silk screening, is an age-old printing method that involves pushing ink through a fine mesh screen onto the printing surface. This process allows for vibrant and long-lasting prints that can withstand multiple washes without fading.


One of the main advantages of screen printing is its ability to print on a wide range of materials, including fabrics, plastics, metals, and more. It is particularly popular for printing on clothing items such as t-shirts, hoodies, and tote bags, as it can produce vibrant, opaque prints that stand out.

Another advantage of screen printing is that it can be cost-effective for large orders. Once the screens are set up and the initial artwork is prepared, the cost per unit decreases with each additional print. Therefore, if you have a high-volume order, screen printing may be a more affordable option.


However, screen printing does have some limitations. It is not suitable for intricate designs with fine details, as the mesh screen may not be able to capture the intricacies of the image. Additionally, each color in the design requires a separate screen, which means more setup time and increased production costs for multi-color prints.

Digital Printing:

Digital printing has revolutionized the printing industry by allowing for high-quality prints with minimal setup time. This technique involves transferring an image directly from a digital file onto the desired material using specialized printers and inks.


One of the main advantages of digital printing is its ability to reproduce intricate designs accurately. Unlike screen printing, digital printing can capture every detail, making it ideal for designs with gradients, shadows, or small text. This technique is also capable of producing vibrant, full-color prints, making it a popular choice for artwork, photographs, and marketing materials.

In addition to its versatility in design, digital printing offers quick turnaround times. Since there is no need for extensive setup, the production process is faster, allowing for shorter lead times. This can be particularly beneficial for rush orders or tight deadlines.


While digital printing offers many advantages, it may not be suitable for all projects. Unlike screen printing, it is limited in terms of the materials it can print on. Digital printing works best on paper, cardstock, and some fabrics, but may not adhere well to certain surfaces like plastics or metals. It is also worth noting that digital prints may not have the same longevity as screen prints, as the inks used in digital printing may fade over time.


When it comes to choosing between screen printing and digital printing for your project, several factors need to be considered. If you require intricate designs with fine details or a quick turnaround time, digital printing may be the better choice. On the other hand, if you need to print on a variety of materials, especially for large volume orders, screen printing may be more cost-effective.

Ultimately, the decision between screen printing and digital printing will depend on your specific project requirements, budget, and desired outcome. It is always advisable to consult a professional printing service to discuss your needs and explore the best options available.

Need a Printing Shop in San Diego, CA?

3 In 1 Design is a family-owned-and-operated custom print shop in San Diego, California. We specialize in creating quality, screen-printed designs. Our in-house artist can create a special design based on your concept, or we can bring your own design to life if you’ve already got something made. We can print custom graphics on t-shirts, sweatshirts, school apparel, business cards, mugs, and much more. You tell us what you want, and we will make it happen! Contact us today!