What's the Difference Between Embroidery and Screen Printing?

[caption id="attachment_1603" align="alignnone" width="1684"]Screen Printing Infographic Image source: Kritikakushwaha.files.wordpress.com[/caption]   You've finally decided that you want to order a line of custom clothing, but you now face a difficult question: do you want the clothes to be embroidered or screen printed? What's the difference between the two, anyway? That's what we're going to tackle in today's article as we highlight the pros and cons of these two distinct styles.  

Screen Printing

  Screen printing is a generic term that describes the process of applying ink to a piece of fabric with a special screen. Screen printers begin by coating a screen in a light-sensitive emulsion. They then take a piece of artwork and lay it over the emulsion before treating the whole screen with an intense source of light. The light hardens the emulsion, leaving a negative in the screen that can be washed away. Screen printers are then left with an image of the original artwork in negative space, kind of like a stencil. This allows screen printers to press ink onto fabrics en masse while maintaining perfect accuracy.   http://youtu.be/YFM_tBfyjM0  

Benefits of Screen Printing

  Creating the screen is a bit complicated, but once that's done you have a template that can be used to create an endless supply of customized clothing. For that reason, screen printing lends itself incredibly well to large orders. The popularity of screen printed t-shirts in malls and shopping areas is a testament to how quickly and efficiently screen printers can create orders. If you want to get your hands on a large order in a short amount of time, then screen printing is definitely the way to go.  

Cons of Screen Printing

  Unfortunately, printing an image on fabric won't be quite as precise as printing an image on paper. You can still achieve a crisp image, but screen printing simply can't replicate the sharp contrast that you might find on a high-resolution photograph. It's best to have a clear, well-defined image that can easily be transferred to the shirt through screen printing.   Screen printing is also somewhat restricted. It's ideally suited for flat surfaces, so seams or buttons can disrupt the pattern. Screen printing might also look unusual on certain articles of clothing. T-shirts and sweatshirts with screen printed designs are extremely common, but you will almost never find screen printed images on other articles of clothing. If you want a customized dress shirt or winter jacket, then screen printing probably isn't your best option.  


  [caption id="attachment_1604" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Embroidery Machines Image source: Ecvv.com[/caption]   Embroidery is how they used to do it back in the good ol' days when everything was made by hand with needle and thread. Embroiderers use fabric to sew the design directly onto articles of clothing.  

Benefits of Embroidery

  While screen printing looks commercial and mass-produced, embroidery looks old-fashioned and hand-made. Embroidery generally feels much more professional and expensive than its high-tech cousin. I recommend embroidery over screen printing for smart casual or semi-formal companies.   One of the greatest benefits of embroidery is that it can go on just about any piece of clothing. Unlike screen printing, which requires large flat surfaces, embroidered designs can be hand-sewn onto difficult seamlines and creases. That's why embroidery is the go-to customization option on baseball caps, wristbands, blazers, and dress shirts.  

Cons of Embroidery

  Embroidery doesn't lend itself very well to mass production -- at least, not as well as screen printing does. You can expect large orders of embroidered clothing to take a little bit longer to complete.   Also, embroidery generally isn't a great choice if you want a gigantic logo on an article of clothing. Every piece of thread has to be sewn on manually, so embroidery is just too slow for gigantic logos.   It's important to keep in mind these differences as you shop for custom clothing options. Every company is different, so it's important that evaluate which custom clothing option is best for your group.
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