It’s important for fashion designers to understand the various printing techniques and processes used in clothing manufacturing in order to make informed decisions about what will work best for their unique designs. Printing is generally carried out after pre-treatment or dying of the fabric; the objective is to arrange the artistic patterns or motifs created by the designer in crisp, well-defined, detail and often in multiple colors. Printed fabrics need to stand up to wear and multiple washings, so it’s important that pigments are properly applied in order that a strong bond is formed between the dyes and the fabric.
Often, garment manufacturers are not focused on printing processes at the sampling stage, and designers tend to get sample printing done using the cheapest and most convenient methods. But if there is a specific look you hope to achieve, you should consider which option will be most economically suited for mass production in terms of the cost of printing and production completion time. Thinking through the printing process before beginning production will ensure that you get the final product you expect, and the feel, texture and brightness of the final garment is exactly what you want.
These are a number of printing methods regularly used by garment manufacturers: screen printing, heat transfer, direct, discharge print, block printing, and sublimatic printing. The factors that may affect your choice of which technique to use are:
1. COST: Some printing methods are costlier than others. Designers and manufacturers should decide together to ensure there is no compromise to the quality or vision, and to achieve the right balance between the cost and the printing technique.
2. QUANTITY: Some methods are best suited for small runs but can’t be replicated on a large scale. For example, sublimatic can only be used for small to medium quantities, but isn’t practical for bulk printing.
3. PRODUCTION TIME: Manufacturers should always give you an idea of final production time, but it’s smart to inquire about how the printing technique will impact production time.
When a particular design comes to us for production, we consider these and many other factors before determining which printing method is best. Each printing technique has its own pros and cons for bulk printing.