Screen Printing Vs. Heat Transfer Vinyl : Which is the Best?

Customizing t-shirts, hats, and other modern garments impart beauty and boldness. Various techniques, such as screen printing or heat transfer vinyl, are more famous for adding designs in polyester fabrics, cotton shirts, and leather jackets.

If you want to modify the design pattern on the garments, then you must know the fundamental difference between screen printing and heat transfer vinyl.

HTV vs. Screen Printing: which one is better?

To determine which printing technique is preferable for your project, you must know a transparent approach toward HTV and Screen printing.

In HTV, you will require less effort in designing and adhering to the design over shirts or fabrics. It is essential, requires low capital cost, and creates simple output without loss.

While screen printing produces more clear and brighter colors over the garments. It allows you to create more complex and bold designs on shirts, unlike HTV.

Screen printing designs last longer than HTV as, while curing, the ink fuses into the fabric and becomes its essential part.

If you are good at marketing, surely you will win a lot of orders for screen printing. With less wastage of resources, you will print on multiple garments simultaneously.

I hope you will now have a better idea about choosing the suitable printing method to impart design on your garments.

What Supplies are required for Screen Printing?

Both processes require a wide variety of items to carry out designing and printing on t-shirts. To start a business, you must arrange the following equipment to have decent patterns and logos on garments.


If you are going to start a large-scale business, then a printer is essential. Various versions of printers are available in the market depending upon the design requirements, from simple to complex ones. 

Curing and drying apparatus

Drying equipment must be in the workshop to cure the ink of designs. You can employ a hair dryer if you are drying and curing design patterns in a single t-shirt. For professional usage, a heat gun is the best option.

A heat gun can cure multiple designs and garments at a time. So, choose wisely instead of wasting resources.

Designing software

Design is a vital part of screen printing. It would be best to have software like Illustrator on your computer to create beautiful designs.

You can create an account on Canva Pro to enjoy the most unique and antique patterns.   


The screen usually is made up of polyester. Screens required screen printing have different numbers of mesh counts. If you print on cotton garments or t-shirts, use a screen with a high mesh count. 

Ink, Emulsion, and scrapers

Water-based and plastisol ink is used for screen printing.

Emulsions are unique chemicals that are used to coat the screens.

To apply ink and Emulsion over the screens, you will also require a scraper.

So, arrange all these items before starting the screen printing process.  

Read more: Screen Printing

Supplies Required for HTV

before starting the heat transfer vinyl process on clothes, arrange the following supplies;

Heat Press

Depending upon the cost factor, two types of heat presses are in demand.

Swing away

For individual usage, you can purchase a simple small-scale heat press.

For professional practice, you must install an industrial-scale heat press to fulfill your requirements.

A vinyl cutter

Arrange a cutter to cut the vinyl as per requirement. You can use a Cricut for vinyl cutting.

To print on, you’ll need t-shirts, bags, or caps. You can only manufacture a product if you have clothes to print your design.

How Does Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) work?

In heat transfer vinyl, you will first have to create a design on your computer. Various software is available, such as Adobe Illustrator, Canva Pro, or Cricut design space.

The desired design is then printed on the back side of the vinyl.

Then place the vinyl cut out on the garment. Start heating the heat press and apply pressure on the design. The heat from the heat press will melt the vinyl’s adhesive and fuse into the fabric.

A mixture of different designs and colors can be printed on shirts in HTV, but it requires command over skill.

At the end of HTV, the design will look like a plastic image on fabric. But it looks impressive with crisp and tough edges.

How Does Screen Printing work?

Screen printing is also known as silk screening.

In the screen printing process, the thick ink is passed through the mesh and placed over a stencil.

Then the ink is forced stenciled onto cloth to have the required design. Most of the time, plastisol is used for this purpose.

Better results can be achieved with less effort and basic knowledge of screen printing.

If you own a large-scale screen-printing business, you must have complete command over the process.

If you practice enormously, the skill will, of course, be improved.

At the end of the screen printing process, you will have a shirt with a thick pattern and bright colors.

If you want to screen print different colors, you will have to arrange a few numbers of stencils.

Coat them in different colors and stack them on the desired spot for design printing. 

Also, the industrial-scale printing business tries to employ advanced screen printing machines with robotic arms.

Such machines produce better results in printing different colors simultaneously and complete the printing in significantly less time.  

Which is more durable: Screen Printing or Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV)?

The critical point of the durability of HTV and screen printing is the curing of the ink.

The ink of screen prints soaks into the fabric, while in HTV, it gets fused into the cloths.

If curing is not done correctly, the HTV print doesn’t last long and peels off or fades with time.

Screen prints don’t fade out with washing if the ink has gained a strong bond with the cloths.

The quality of ink also plays a role in the endurance of design.

One must care for the screen printed or HTV shirts during washing.

Keep one thing in mind, before washing the printed shirts, turn them inside out. It will protect the design from peeling off.

Which one has better quality, Screen Printing or HTV?

Screen printing can be employed on light and dark-colored fabrics, producing more vivid and vibrant prints, unlike HTV. HTV can only have the best results if used for dark colors.

Screen prints are thick and look risen over the fabric, while in HTV, the adhesive melts down and fuses into the fabric. So, HTV prints are more substantial and don’t peel off with time.

In the case of screen printing, more layers of coloring are possible.

Applications of HTV

HTV can be employed for the following items;

  • Dark color fabrics
  • Single color designs
  • Hats
  • Umbrella
  • Leather Products

Applications of Screen Printing

Screen printing is suitable for the following products;

  • Shirts of any design
  • Complex colors can be achieved
  • Wooden products
  • Polyester fabrics
  • Cotton fabrics

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is screen printing better than HTV?

Screen printing becomes cost-effective when used for large-scale businesses. It can create more complex and intricate shapes, unlike HTV. HTV presents better resolution in design color than screen printing. So, it all depends upon various factors such as color, cost effect, and fabric choice. 

Is it cheaper to screen print or vinyl?

Screen printing is suitable for large-scale orders, while vinyl is best for small runs.

How long does screen printing last on shirts?

In screen printing, the ink particles get infused into the fabric. So, the designs last for the longest time on the shirts. In the case of HTV, the layout adheres to a shirt that can be washed away after about 40 – 50 washes. 

How long does HTV last on shirts?

The HTV design lasts on fabric for about 50 washes if cared for properly. If the design area is pressed with iron after each wash, it will peel very soon. So, iron press the area other than the design.

HTV (Heat Transfer Vinyl) vs Screen Printing

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