Embroidery vs. Screen Printing: What’s the Difference?

slide2aWhen it comes to customization, people have never had it easier. Say you want a custom printed pencil, or a shirt, or a mug—all you have to do is go online or visit a graphics/printing specialist. The options are seemingly endless, and more often than not, the technology leaves people happy with the results.

But people who’ve never done such a project before will often scratch their heads when it comes to choosing between embroidery and screen printing. Obviously this choice doesn’t apply to things like pencils or mugs, but for cloth items, it’s one of the main decisions you’ll have to make.

The best way to go about this decision is first to understand what each process involves, and then think about the advantages/disadvantages of each.

Embroidery

You probably have an embroidered logo on your favorite polo shirt. With embroidery, the logo is actually stitched into the fabric of the item. Other common examples include hats, uniforms, sports apparel, and jackets.

This process is not done by hand; there are specialized machines that allow precision stitching of the exact logo or image you want to embroider. That’s how logos and images are able to appear so precisely in their embroidered form.

Screen printing

As you can imagine, screen printing involves ink instead of thread. Plenty of shirts and other articles of clothing make use of screen printing, but it’s also possible to print on pens, mugs, or even large signs for outdoor commercial use. The possibilities for screen printing are virtually endless.

The procedure involves a special screen and a stencil, through which the colors and designs are applied to the desired cloth. When this is done correctly, the images are truly sharp and precise.

Advantages and disadvantages

Now that we’ve covered the basic difference between embroidery and screen printing, we can take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

The first, most obvious difference is the complexity of the image. If you have a painting or photograph you’d like rendered onto a shirt, embroidery is probably not the option you’re looking for. Screen printing will allow much more accurate rendering of the image.

On the other hand, if you have a relatively simple image (a logo, for example) and you want it to last as long as possible, embroidery is probably the way to go. It gives you a classic, timeless look and it can stay in place for a lifetime.

What about the cost?

Embroidery is typically the more expensive option; however, if you’re ordering a high quantity of any given item, the cost per item goes down. Screen printing is typically seen as a budget-friendly option for most custom design projects.

Should you go with embroidery or screen printing?

This depends on the nature of the image you’d like rendered, and the overall look/feel you’re going for. Screen printing offers more flexibility and accuracy in terms of rendering detailed images, but embroidery offers a long-lasting, durable solution that looks highly professional when done by a qualified embroidery specialist. If you’re still at a loss, any local professional should be willing to talk with you about your project via email or on the phone.

Best of luck with your custom design projects, and thanks for reading! Please leave your comments below.