To officially become a brand, you will need a customized logo. With a well-printed logo, customers can easily recognize and remember your brand. Since you’ll be working with garments, one of the most important things to consider is the logo printing method to use.
In order to choose the right printing technology, you will first need to consider the fabric composition and color. Then, you can choose between the four most popular methods namely Heat Press, Silk Screen, Embroidery and Sublimation Printing.
Why can’t you just randomly choose whichever? Not all methods are compatible with the type of fabric you will use. Worst case scenario is that you spend money for subpar or poor results. But before we introduce you to these methods, let’s start with why knowing fabric composition is important.
If you’re looking to start a sportswear brand but have no idea where to start, then don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Before anything else, you have to be aware of the fabric composition used in your products. By familiarizing this, you can identify which printing methods will work beautifully.
According to Eysan Fabrics, fabric composition refers to how much fibers of one specific fabric you’re going to use to create the garment. This also includes the garment’s Grams Per Square Meter or GSM which refers to the garment’s weight or thickness. For example, your fabric composition could be pure cotton or a mix of two or more fabric types. So you can say 100% cotton or 80% cotton and 20% polyester.
Now why should we know the fabric composition and color? Knowing the type of fabric used to create the material gives you a clearer idea on which printing method to use. Some printing methods, for example, are only applicable on polyester fabric or light colors. Meanwhile some methods can be used for any type of fabric and color. However, there will always be one or two methods that work amazing in a certain fabric composition.
Now without further ado, let’s go over the four most popular logo printing methods in detail.
Every method uses either of the four types of customization. Spot color customization creates logos by building up layers with color. Full color prints out the whole image as it is including all details. With Sewn Applications, you use threads and appliques for a three-dimensional finish. Lastly, Special Effects uses rhinestones, spangles, and other materials. The results differ from one method to another.
But before we proceed, you will first need a logo. If you have skills in logo making then you can always create one yourself for free. If not, the cheapest option is to opt for Logo generators which can cost $10-$50. However, if you want a professionally-made design, then it can run from $300 to $1300 according to 99 Designs,
There is no best logo printing method. To choose, you need to have a clear definition of what your needs and priorities are. Do you want luxurious and durable prints? Are you doing mass production? Are you looking for efficiency and affordability? All these should be cleared out.
There are a lot of logo printing methods you can do. But now, we are going to focus on four logo printing technologies. All of which are popularly used in the garment and sportswear industry.
1.Heat Press Transfer Printing
This method is also known as digital transfer and uses Spot Color Customization. According to Merchology, Heat Press Transfer Printing is first done by printing out your design on a special type of transfer paper. Then, you stick the paper onto the garment and use heat and pressure to replicate the design. But this time, onto the garment. Unlike sublimation printing, this method transfers the design together with a transfer layer.
What’s great about this method is that you can use it on all types of fabric and garment. It is often used to print small simple logos and is extremely popular in the activewear industry. The results are high quality and clean as well. Furthermore, you can also use this method for low quantities without spending too much. This is highly recommended for businesses who are looking for affordable options for mass production.
However, there are two drawbacks for this. First is that it is limited to simpler designs for the best quality. Second, is that it needs high skill in production. This means that you need to undergo trial and error to master the process. Otherwise, the print will be bad and peel off easily.
Heat Press, as emphasized, can be used on all fabrics of any color. Hence, if you’re working with garments with varying fabric compositions then we recommend that you use Heat Press Printing. From simple shirts to jackets and joggers, everything is possible.
However, there will always be one certain fabric that is most compatible with this method and that is cotton. As compared to it, synthetic fabrics and Tri-blend garments can be tedious to print on. Nonetheless, it can still produce good results.
It is impossible to declare a definite price for any type of logo printing method. This is because this is dependent on the fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs include the maintenance cost, electricity, etc. Whereas the variable costs are the garment used, logo size, and print paper.
To give you an idea, Digital Heat FX estimates a retail price of around $16 – $22 for a full-color print including the cost of an average shirt. If you purchase your own shirts, then it should only run around $5 per print. However, if you buy in bulk the price may decrease accordingly.
- Low startup and setup costs
- Clean and sharp designs
- Any type of fabric can be used
- Perfect for mass production
- Limited to simpler designs
- Need meticulous quality control
2.Silk Screen Printing
According to Camaloo, Silk Screen Printing is debatably one of the oldest methods for printing that has evolved over the past years. Initially, it started as simple stencilling before it finally turned into a merchandised printing method. There are two types of silk screen printing for different uses. Serigraphy for graphic design and for textile printing.
Silk Screen Printing uses Spot Color Customization as well. It starts off by printing out the design on a printing frame that is placed onto the shirt. Then, the colors are screened using a scraper with only one color used per screen. You can only add a new color after the first one has dried for up to 4 colors maximum. Before, this used to be a manual process. However, currently there is already machinery available allowing efficient high quality screen printing.
The benefits of this type of printing is that it is easy to replicate and suits most fabrics. It also has unlimited color options and is affordable. Furthermore, it has no minimum order quantity and can be used for both high and low numbers. However, this is not as durable as other methods and may crease over time. Also, it limits the number of colors you can use and is not suited for complex designs.
Silk screen printing is best used on natural fabrics like cotton, wool, and silk. Permaset says that the reason behind this is that natural fibers absorb ink better than synthetic fabrics. Although it can still get the job done, silk-screen printing on thinner synthetic fabrics results in more subtle prints.
Hence, if your products are mostly pure cotton or cotton blend, then silk-screen printing is a great choice. Even better if you’re thinking about mass production.
Here are some the most common sportswear made of cotton:
● Lifestyle Shirts
Lifestyle shirts are your regular tees that can be worn anytime anywhere. The best composition would be 95% Cotton 5% spandex 180gsm for a good balance of stretch, structure, and weight.
For hoodies, there are two best compositions. First we have 85% cotton, 10% polyester, 5% spandex, 320 gsm or 60% cotton, 40% polyester, 320gsm. This depends on your own preference. As for finishing, you can use either of these three – french terry, interlocked, or brushed fleece.
Silk Screen Printing can be a tedious and expensive job if done manually due to labor fees. Thus, we recommend that you go for automated silk screen printers. Lawson Screen and Digital Products Inc. says that the average fee for one color on a 100% cotton material can run from $5.50 – $9.00 depending on the number of shirts. For a multi-colored print, then expect additional charges per color.
- Easy to replicate
- Perfect for mass production, no minimum order quantity
- Suitable for most fabrics
- Unlimited color options
- One color per screen
- Can be pricey for multicolored designs
- Less durable
- Prone to creases over time
The Embroidery method on the other hand uses Sewn Application. With this method, the logo is created using threads of different colors. You can decide the patterns, length, and thickness to achieve your desired outcome.
Class B describes the embroidery process as almost entirely automated. The design you can create depends on the machine used. The more needles the machine can hold, the more colors you can use. So for example, if a machine can hold 15 threaded needles max then it can produce a design with only up to 15 colors. Upon finishing, you then remove the garment and cut off stray threads and excess stiffencer.
The embroidery method is great if you are working with a simple logo or texts only. It results in a luxurious three dimensional look. It is also highly durable and can be used for low and high quantities. However, you will need some experience to perfectly do the process to avoid mishaps.
According to Brian Roberts of LogoUp, embroidery is best used on non-stretch clothing. This is because the thread needs to hold onto something steady. Thus, if you’re working on a lot of thick shirts and garments, then embroidered printing is a great and classy method.
Here are some of the most common non-stretch sportswear garments:
● Lifestyle Cut Offs
Cut offs are thicker versions of lifestyle shirts. The most common fabric composition is at 95% Cotton, 5% Spandex, and 220gsm. This main reason is that these are often used during heavy workouts or gym activities.
● Men’s Joggers
For joggers, we’re talking about a thicker and stiffer type that is at 85% cotton, 10% polyester, 5% spandex at 320gsm. This is the top fabric composition used for male joggers.
● Technical Jackets
Technical jackets are made to withstand all types of weather and activities. Thus, these are often created with multiple layers. Since the outer layer often uses 100% nylon for stiffness and durability, embroidery is a great logo printing choice for this.
You need to pay a price for added luxury. For the logo embroidery, Thumbtack pronounces that there may be price adjustments depending on the number of stitches and color shifts. Hence, the price may run from $20 – $30 for a regular shirt.
Aside from the actual logo embroidery, you will also need to pay for the image Digitizing. This programs your design into their embroidery machine for maximum accuracy. This could run from $10 – $40. The embroidery process is more complex, and the logo is the most durable inside the four, so the price will be higher
- Three – dimensional outputs
- Luxurious feel
- No minimum order quantity
- Limited to simpler designs
- Needs meticulous quality control
Sublimation printing is similar to Heat Press Transfer Printing. In fact, it is often mistaken as one from the other. To clear up confusions, the main difference between the two is that heat press transfers designs on top while sublimation transfers into the garment. In other words, with sublimation printing the design looks like it is part of the fabric itself.
The sublimation printing process is quite similar to heat press transfer printing. According to InkWellNation, the process starts by printing out your design onto a special paper. Then, the paper is heated and pressed into the garment until the ink sinks into the fabric. However unlike heat press printing, it only integrates the ink without a transfer layer.
Sublimation printing is extremely versatile. It is durable, remains high quality over time, and has no limits in terms of design. This is mainly the reason why it is more expensive than other methods. If you’re working with polyester based and light colored activewear then we highly recommend using this method.
However, two major drawbacks are that it only works with polyester material and light colored fabrics. Otherwise, the design will either not pop out, or it will not print properly.
As highlighted above, sublimation printing only works on polyblends and light-colored fabrics. Thus, if you’re working on products that are mostly polyester-based, then we recommend going for sublimation printing because of its robust prints.
You can also use these for products with a lower polyester percentage like joggers and hoodies. However, expect that the colors may be duller compared to garments with a high polyester percentage.
Here are the most common garments with a high polyester percentage:
● Sports Bra
An alternative economical composition for sports bras are 88% polyester, 12% spandex, at 290gsm. Since these have high polyester percentage, you can effectively use sublimation printing
● Performance Shirts
Performance shirts that are often used for gym activities are best with 91% Polyester, 9% Spandex, and 220 gsm. For garments with breathable mesh in some areas, these often use a composition of 88% Polyester, 12% Spandex, and 140gsm.
The materials and equipment used in sublimation printing can be very expensive. Because of this, the sublimation printing rates increase as well. As compared to heat press transfer printing, sublimation printing is more pricey with the range just around $7 to $8 according to Sawgrass Ink.
- Highly detailed outputs
- Highly durable
- Does not fade nor crack over time
- Unlimited color options
- Unlimited designs
- Limited to light colored fabrics
- Limited to polyester fabrics
The best logos are printed on the right fabric with the right printing technology. For simple logos, you can work with whichever you prefer. However, complex logos are best printed through sublimation printing. For mass production, Heat press and Silk Screen printing are your best bets. Meanwhile, embroidery is great for durable and three-dimensional results.
There is ultimately no best method for logo printing, so feel free to experiment. Surely, there will be one that suits both your preference and needs.