Screen-printing is one of the most common types of t-shirt printing. The ones that use these methods are individuals and small businesses in order to produce shirts in custom or small batches. Doing screen-printing at home costs very little and you do not need a lot of special equipment. The other two methods are sublimation and heat transfer. The more difficult of the two is sublimation. This method should only be used on synthetic materials like acrylic. Of the three types of t-shirt printing processes heat transfer is the easiest. Although heat transfer is quicker than screen printing the final product may not last as long.
This form of t-shirt printing is done with mesh screens and inks that are specially treated with a chemical that will allow an image to be burned into the shirt. The screen is coated with a substrate that will harden when exposed to light. The image is printed on a transparency that can be placed on the screen and then it is exposed to light. This causes the exposed substrate to harden and what is hidden by the transparency will stay soft. You can wash the soft substrate away and produce an image on the screen. Now you place the screen on top of the t-shirt. Ink will then be pressed through the opening in the substrate that is hard by using a squeegee. The investment is minimal in equipment. You can reuse the screens by washing them and then re-coating them with more substrate to burn another image.
To avoid any problems of conflicting colors this type of t-shirt printing is done on white t-shirts. You can put transfers on any color t-shirt if you want but white t-shirts are the best. It is a quick method of printing as you use a pre-made transfer design. You just heat the transfer and apply it to the shirt. You can do this at home using am ironing board and iron but if you are making a large batch of shirts there is special equipment you can purchase. Although this is an easy quick option, it is not long lasting. The transfers over time tend to crack, which often lead to degradation of the image or fading.
Of all the t-shirt printing options, this is the longest lasting and quickest methods. Unfortunately, it can be costly and is a limited process. This printing is usually on done on acrylic and synthetic material like nylon. The ink used in printing is heated in such a way that it turns to gas. It is then transferred to the fabric. When you use this process it will require heating element, substrates, and special inks that an increase the cost of the garment.