There are advantages and disadvantages to both printing systems. However, many print shops have eliminated screen print, and many newer shops have never used screen print. Even though screen printing seems old-school, there is a time and a place for both processes, and you should have a choice.
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?
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.
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.
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. TKO Graphix gives you the choice.