Sublimation vs Screen Printing – What are the Differences?

A lot of printing techniques have been introduced for creating unique and appealing designs. Two of our favorite printing techniques include the sublimation printing and the screen printing method. With these sublimation vs screen printing techniques, there is a lot that you can achieve. In this article, we will talk about what both these techniques are like.

sublimation vs screen printing

Moreover, dye sublimation vs screen Printing differences along with their pros and cons. Both have totally different methods to apply design on materials. So, if you are interested in learning sublimation printing technique and screen printing styles, stay here because we are going to explore some interesting facts.

Sublimation vs Screen Printing

What is Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing is the process of transferring a design from sublimation paper to the material by applying heat and pressure. Heat is applied and maintain a temperature 375 degrees for 50-60 seconds and sublimation ink directly transfer to gaseous state. It is an easy way to customized your products.

What is Screen Printing?

Screen printing is also called silkscreen, serigraphy or screening printing. In screen printing process a stencilled design is transfer on the material by using a mesh screen, ink and a rubber blade. It is the most famous technique which is widely used in multiple industries. Screen printing is mostly used for making posters, artwork, canvas and also be good for print fabrics and textiles. It can be done manually and by machine but the screen printing process remains the same. The main difference is, which type of ink is using and the material on which screen printing will be done.

Difference Between Sublimation and Screen Print Transfer

Given below is the list of some of the differences between screen printing vs sublimation. Both the methods have their own advantages as well as drawbacks. So, let’s look into the details of these distinct yet interesting styles of printing:

1. Easy Printing:

One of the major differences between sublimation printing and screen printing is that the sublimation printer has certain limitations when it comes to fabric. By that we mean to say, sublimation printing is not appropriate for all kinds of fabrics. For instance, it is really hard to print on a piece of cotton via sublimation printing. Rather, polyester is believed to be the most suitable material when it comes to sublimation printing.

Whereas, screen printing does not have these limitations. You can print easily on any material with the help of screen printing without any limitations.

2. Different Suitability of Inks for Both Sublimation or Screen Printing:

In sublimation printing vs screen printing, sublimation printing is more suitable for light colored materials. Otherwise, the print looks really dull with dark colored fabrics. Print on dark fabric does not come out as you would want it to be. A special type of sublimation ink is required for sublimation printing. In sublimation printing you can only use sublimation ink for best results.

In screen printing does not have any limitations when it comes to colors. Even with dark fabrics, the print will pop out really bright and prominent. However, it is only possible if you follow the steps accurately. Printing on dark fabrics with sublimation printing is also possible but that is only exceptional while you follow a different technique altogether. You can also print multiple colors. In screen printing you can use 3D inks, glitter inks, plastisol inks etc.

sublimation or screen printing

3- Quality and Print Durability

The print quality between sublimation or screen printing, the sublimation is just awesome. We can print multiple colors in very details. The resultant print quality is sharp and vibrant. In case of durability the design merges in to the fibers of fabrics and makes a string bond with fibers. Due to this, the design will not crack or fade away after many washes.

In case of screen printing, the print quality is fine and colors are sharp. But we can not print multiple colors through screen printing. It print few colors design. And screen printing ink does not merge with fabric fibers.

4- Print Complexity Against Multiple Colors

Difference between sublimation and screen print, we can print multiple colors in sublimation printing. We can print every type of design, multi color artwork or images through sublimation.

In can case of screen printing, we can print those designs which have less colors and simple. If we want to print gradient with screen printing the output is not exactly the same as original.

Advantages of Screen Printing and Sublimation Printing:

One of the biggest advantages of screen printing includes that it is the best suitable option for producing large-scale products. This means that if you are planning to start a business and produce products on a mass level then screen printing is the best option. Even for small startups, screen printing is suitable.

On the contrary, dye sublimation print offers the best results and highly saturated prints. The prints are just like the part of the material and do not fade upon washing the fabric again and again. So, both the printing methods are good in their own way.

Disadvantages of Screen Printing and Sublimation Printing

One major drawback of screen printing is that the print is not durable or long lasting. The print simply goes away with the passage of time and when there is no durability, the product loses its worth. So, one should reflect upon this point if they are thinking about screen printing from a business point of view. Plus, you need to avoid washing the fabric roughly or with really hot water.

Whereas, sublimation printing is limited in terms of materials. This means that you cannot print on any fabric other than polyester. Even if you print on cotton, it is a tough task.

Tips to Choose Sublimation vs Screen Printing

Selecting between screen print vs sublimation depends on some factors according to your specific needs and goals. Here are some key considerations to help you decide which method is the right one for you:

Tip 1: Type of Material and Product: Consider the material you want to print on. Sublimation works best on polyester based fabrics and polymer coated surfaces. While screen printing is more versatile and can be used on various materials like fabric, paper, wood, metal, and plastic.

If you are primarily printing on polyester garments or promotional items, sublimation might be the better choice. For other materials or fabrics, screen printing could be more suitable.

Tip 2: Design Complexity: In sublimation printing we can print full color printing in detail. If your designs involve high definition images or complex artwork, sublimation might be the preferred method.

Screen printing is better for bold and solid colors, making it ideal for simple designs or artwork with fewer color variations. Fine details and gradients are more challenging to achieve with screen printing.

Tip 3: Quantity and Cost: Consider your production volume. Sublimation is more cost effective for small batches or custom orders since it does not require the creation of screens. It i great for one off or short run printing.

Screen printing becomes more economical for larger quantities of the same design. Once the screens are prepared, printing additional units becomes faster and more cost-effective.

In short, consider the material, design complexity, production volume, fabric color, durability, and your specific needs and goals when choosing between sublimation and screen printing. It’s also worth noting that some businesses may offer both services, allowing you to utilize each method based on the specific requirements of your projects.


Which is better sublimation or screen printing?

It is a matter of your personal preference. Both methods are equally good in their own way depending upon what you want to achieve. If you want to start a business but at the same time do not want to invest much then screen print is the smart choice. This method allows you to produce stuff on a large scale. Whereas, the sublimation printing process is more appropriate for small-scale ventures. This does not mean that you cannot go for sublimation on a large scale but the reason is that this is quite an expensive method.

Does screen print or sublimation last longer?

In our experience, sublimation print is more long-lasting as compared to screen printing. In dye sublimation printing, the print does not fade away because it actually merges into the fabric thereby becoming a part of it. While, in screen printing, the print cracks if the fabric is excessively washed. Plus, the colors are really saturated and balanced in the sublimation method so they remain for a long time. Washing the fabric is not a problem.

Is a sublimation printer worth it?

Yes, definitely. Sublimation printers can produce prints with so much intricacy. So, you can almost see all the minor details that are just exquisite. The prints are of high quality as well as durability. They stay for a long time period which adds value to the products. Especially, for mini-projects, you can use these printers and get the best results.

How do I stop my screen print from coming off?

The prints produced by screen printing without any double are not long-lasting. However, if you follow certain tips and techniques, you can protect the fabric from cracks in the prints. You can do this by using normal or cold water for washing the fabric. Moreover, you can turn the machine on with a delicate button option. Other than that, you can also use detergents that are not really strong. So, this can increase the life of the prints.


Sublimation and screen printing is equally interesting techniques for creating unique designs on fabrics, mugs, frames, etc. These techniques allow you to explore your creativity and skills. Both sublimation vs screen print have their own prose and cons. So, it all depends upon what outcome you want and its suitability. The quality of the print, color scheme, durability, and budget, all of these factors vary for both methods. In sublimation screen printing; the cost is different for both printings. Likewise, the prints and their quality are also different in both techniques.

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