Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Whats the difference between Screen Printing and Digital Printing?

Whats the difference between Screen and Digital printing? Many of the new or chain print shops have eliminated screen print and have never used screen print. Even though screen printing seems old-school, there is a time and a place for both processes.

What Is Digital Print?
Digital print consists of any printed output that comes directly from a digital file, thus consolidating and automating the printing process. While there are various printing processes available, large-format ink jet is currently the most common digital print output medium.

What Are The Advantages of Digital Print?
Faster Turnaround
Our biggest customer in digital is RUSH (I’m not sure what they do, but they use a lot of large-format printing). With digital, setup time is minimal. If you need it in a hurry, digital is your choice.

Shorter Production Runs
With traditional screen printing, the setup time and overall screen prep are not cost effective for short runs. If you only need a few prints, go digital.

Unlimited Image Combinations
Use your imagination. Don’t limit your thinking to 1 or 2-color spot processes. If you want to think out-of-the-box, think digital.

Less Variation in Color
If the digital printer is calibrated properly, every print is the same, and will be the same when you need more of the same print job. Read more about Digital Print Color Calibration.

What Is Screen Print?
Screen print consists of a woven mesh, or screen, that runs through a pre-press process of coating a screen, and then transposing an image to the screen. Once the image is set in the screen, the screen is loaded onto the press, and ink is flooded over the image. Next, it is transferred onto the substrate with a squeegee. Finally, the print is sent through a heat-tunnel to cure, or set.

What Are The Advantages of Screen print?
Solid Colors Without Pixelation
Digital prints are pixelated, using dots-per-inch, or “dpi.” Modern printers run from 350dpi to 1200dpi, which makes visible pixelation vary. When printing spot colors, screen print is a solid lay-down of color. If you need something that will be looked at closely, and should have no pixelation, go with screen print.

Lower Cost on Large Production Runs
Setup is a large part of the screen print cost. The cost of a few prints may be too expensive, but dividing the cost by 100 prints may be more cost-effective than digital. Got a lot of printing to do? You might do better with screen print.

Color Matching
Do you need to match a specific company color, paint swatch, or PMS color? Screen printing offers a larger color gamut, which can nail colors dead-on.

Metallic Prints
Even though metallic particles, or flakes, can be integrated into digital printing for metallic prints, screen printing offers greater customization. Screen printing allows a larger range of flakes and flake sizes to satisfy the customer’s needs. If you are looking for the upscale, higher-end look of metallics, go with screen print.

So, Digital or Screen?
Well, it depends. It depends on the application, use, material, urgency, color, image, and size of the run. The best answer may be that you should have the choice.


  1. i am thinking of buying digital printer but how much does a regular digital printer cost?

    Smith | corporate shirts

  2. Thanks for explaining about the Screen Printing and Digital Printing. Most of us know the differences by reading your post.

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  3. It's nice to share such useful information about digital printing. this is really very helpful to understand the differences. Keep sharing..
    Digital printing corrugated

  4. I am looking at manufacturing singlets with skylines on the ie NYC, Hong Kong at night etc. What would you recommend, screen or digital for about 50-100 pieces per image?

  5. Screen printing requires more skill in a person and Digital require less human efforts because the prints come out from a digital printing machines.
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  6. Wow! awesome information about corrugated digital printing that provides output that comes directly from a digital file, thus consolidating and automating the printing process.Thanks for sharing with us

  7. Screen Printing: The process involves making a stencil using a drawn/digitized image or a photograph, attaching to a screen, placing it over the desired canvas and spreading the ink over the image.
    Digital Printing: All need is a computer and a printer with ink cartridges of every colors.
    Print Management

  8. Thanks for posting this difference. My friend was recently talking about digital printing. I think that I will have to look into digital printing more for what I need printed.

  9. I have been wondering what the difference was for awhile now. It's so interesting to know that digital printing comes straight out of a digital file. I knew more about screen printing than digital, so that's great to know more about digital! Thanks for the help!

    1. I had also been wondering what the difference was between digital printing and screen printing. I thought I knew, but didn't want to sound ignorant by asking about it. It would make sense that digital printing is printing from a digital file and that it doesn't use the different colored screens that some printers still use. I would assume that we all do digital printing from our home computers, instead of doing screen printing.