Dye Sublimation vs Screen Printing vs Heat Transfer: Which is better?

In T-shirt printing and garments customization, several techniques are available to choose from. The popular ones are dye sublimation, screen printing, and heat transfer to have beautiful designs, graphics, and artwork. If you decide to pick the most suitable one, keep reading this comparison on Dye sublimation vs Screen printing vs Heat Transfer in the following lines.

What is Dye-sublimation printing?

As the name suggests, sublimation is a chemical process in which a solid material directly turns into a gaseous form without going through the liquid phase. Similarly, ink particles transform into gas in this technique and make a strong bond with the fabric. This sublimation process involves high temperature and pressure, making dye particles penetrate the fabric and leaving a seamless design on the garment.

What is screen printing?

Here, first of all, shades are crafted into required patterns and designs. The ink passes through these patterns and produces a unique design. This can be applied to various fabrics such as cotton, athletic wear, and promotional stuff.

What is heat transfer printing?

This requires a special kind of paper on which the required design is available. This paper is placed on the fabric and heated with a heat press to have the design. You can use home iron if you don’t have the required equipment. But, it will affect the quality of the design.

After soaking the print carefully, peel off the paper, and you have a nicely bonded image to fabric.

Sublimation vs Screen Printing
Sublimation vs Screen Printing

Dye Sublimation vs Screen Printing vs Heat Transfer: Which is better?

You have gained basic knowledge about the working process of all three techniques. But, how will you pick the better option for your products from comparing dye sublimation vs heat transfer vs screen printing? To make it easier, we have considered the important factors like; Equipment cost, colours, fabrics, and durability of the print.

Equipment and start-up cost

If your budget is low and loves to have something cheaper, you should consider Heat transfer printing for your apparel. Its accessories are widely available in the market; you only need a printer, a garment, and a design on paper.

While in the case of dye sublimation printing, you have to bear the cost of sublimation dye, garment, sublimation printer, and heat press.

Besides this, screen printing requires a lot of effort and time. You have to purchase a meshed screen for more than one design and colour. Then to have good quality design alignment of its layers requires a lot of effort.

Temperature, pressure, and time requirements

When it comes to time, temperature and pressure, dye sublimation is on the top. Unlike both techniques, it requires very little temperature and pressure to transfer the design on fabric. Also, the required design can be printed in less than a minute.

While heat transfer requires more time, temperature, and pressure, in the case of screen printing, one coloured design can be easily printed, but intricate designs require much effort and time.

Type of Fabric

Here is the important factor to keep in mind dye sublimation printing only works on polyesters. The design quality mainly depends upon the amount of polyester in the fabric. Move over; it is suitable for white or light-coloured fabrics.

Heat Transfer printing can work on cotton, polyester, and mixed ones. You can use it for light and dark-coloured garments.

Screen printing is mostly used for T-shirts, bags, and lanyards. However, it is suitable for decorative print and scratch cards.

Colours – Prominence and Clarity

Your go-to choice is to dye-sublimation for complex and intricate designs and various colours. This even allows the printing of photos and company logos with the best quality.

However, heat transfer can not have the same quality and colour schemes in the Heat transfer printing technique.

To make complex photos by screen printing, you need a four-colour process using tiny dots and a grid screen which requires a lot of effort and patience.


The prints of heat transfer and screen printing have less durability than dye sublimation. The reason is that in heat transfer and screen printing, a layer is made on the garment. Print of heat transfer and screen printing fade away over time with time.

But, in the case of dye sublimation, the dye ink becomes part of garments. This process gives a smooth feel and strong bondage.

Final Words

Now you can decide Dye Sublimation vs Screen Printing vs Heat Transfer: Which is better? Wrapping up the comparison, you come to know that all techniques are different ways to beautify apparel. Dye sublimation, heat transfer, and screen printing are easier to work with techniques in the market.

Therefore, printing companies are utilizing for printing company uniforms, garments, and promotional shirts. Eventually, depending upon your needs and preferences, you can choose the better technique as explained in detail to achieve quality designs for your product.