Using promotional items as part of an awareness campaign is a great way to get your business name out there. Not only does free stuff catch the attention of potential customers, promotional items are also the gift that keeps on giving. If you use high quality items that will last a long time, as people use them they will continue advertising your business for years to come.

Once you’ve chosen an item to use for your promotion (custom t-shirts, bags, sweaters, even masks are all great giveaway options that people will likely keep and continue to use), you may still need to choose how you would like your items created: heat press or screen printing. Both of these methods are used often, but depending on what you need in your design, the need for one or the other could change.

Heat Press

This method can be broken down into what is known as digital print and vinyl print. Both of these use pressure and heat to print your design onto the items.

Vinyl Heat Transfer – For this method, designs are physically cut out of pieces of colored vinyl by a machine, then arranged on the item and pressed with heat in order to transfer the image to the fabric or item. This is often used for sports jerseys.

Digital Print Heat Transfer – In this method, the design is created on a computer, then printed onto specific transfer paper using solvent ink. The paper is then pressed to the promotional item, heat is applied, and the design transfers to the item.

While heat press designs are usually a great way to recreate complicated designs, it does have a few pitfalls. The design usually doesn’t last as long on the promotional item, especially if it’s on a t-shirt or sweater that will be washed many times. The designs don’t show up as well on darker fabrics, and usually people say that clothing items with designs made by heat press feel stiff.

Screen Printing

Unlike heat press, screen printing uses screens and ink to put designs onto an item. The number of colors in the design determine how complex the process will be, as each color needs its own screen.

Screen printing is usually the best choice for bulk orders as it is very cost effective for large quantities. In addition, many of the downsides of heat press designs aren’t an issue with those made by screen printing. Colors are vibrant and show up well on any color of fabric. Screen printed t shirts and other clothing don’t have the same stiffness as heat press designs. These items tend to last longer as well, standing up better to years of going through the washing machine.

Which is Better?

The best option for getting custom t shirts or other promotional items designed depends on your project. For complicated designs on small orders, heat press might be a good choice. For longer lasting, more comfortable custom clothing that can be any color, screen printing is likely the best option.

Not sure what your custom clothing or promotional item needs? Contact the experts at RiverCity Screenprinting & Embroidery in Austin, San Marcos, or San Antonio, to find out how we can help.