Embroidery vs Screen Printing

There are quite a few methods to decorate apparel but by far the two most common are embroidery and screen printing (aka silkscreen or serigraphic).

However, they are very different in terms of their application, benefits and situations in which you would use one over the other.

Embroidery is basically defined as decorating fabric using a needle and thread.

Screen printing is a stencil method of print making in which a design is imposed on a screen of silk or other fine mesh, with blank areas coated with an impermeable substance, and ink is forced through the mesh onto the printing surface, usually a t-shirt.

Here at Matrix Uniforms, we do a form of direct embroidery on all logo apparel.

Direct embroidery is where the design or logo is woven or sewn directly into the material of the garment.

The embroidered design essentially becomes part of the material.

You might contrast direct embroidery with something like a patch where the logo is embroidered on a piece of material first and then the patch is placed on top of and merely attached to a garment.

There are three general ways to compare and contrast embroidery and screen printing-how they look, how much each costs, and the applications for best using each method.

How They Look

In general, embroidery is considered a nicer and classier way to present a design.

An embroidered logo looks very elegant, traditionally on the left chest of a shirt.

It is the preferred way to decorate a shirt with a logo by many companies because the thread has weight and dimension, an embroidered logo ends up being 3d.

In addition, embroidery thread is coated and therefore has a sheen that helps the colours pop to attention.

Screen-printed designs look like they were painted or printed with an ink-jet printer on a shirt.

It is possible with screen printing to create designs or certain looks that could not be recreated in thread and embroidery.

The designs can be very striking but are one-dimensional.

The Best Applications

Logo embroidery is used most often for apparel that will be used for uniforms or promotions.

Lots of companies across the United Kingdom and the World wear logo embroidered shirts to identify and promote their company logos and image.

Most embroidered logos are done on the left chest and look really good on polo shirts, button-down shirts, caps and hats, sweatshirts, jackets and bags.

Screen-printed designs are usually best done on t-shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts.

One reason for that is the finish on a t-shirt or sweatshirt is smooth and therefore provides a nice surface on which the ink can be applied.

If you need to do a large full-front or full-back design on a t-shirt for example, screen printing is the best choice.

Putting a large embroidered design on a t-shirt would spell disaster for both the shirt and the embroidered design if the t-shirt material is too thin to properly hold all the embroidery stitches it would take to create a large design.

It would not look good or last very long.

Embroidery and screen printing are equally durable.

How Much They Cost

Pricing for each decoration method involves a number of variables that one should consider ahead of time.

Embroidery is most often priced by stitch count.

That is the number of stitches it takes to create a design in embroidery.

More stitches equal more cost.

However, at Matrix Uniforms, we have created a flat pricing structure that includes the first line of text-only embroidery, which can be added to suitable garments to simplify the pricing process for our customers.

The pricing for screen printing is completely different.

It is driven by three variables including the number of shirts, the number of colours in the design and the number of different locations (i.e. front and back) printed on a shirt.

The more shirts you have to print, the lower the printing cost per shirt.

However, more colours in a design drives up the printing cost.

Similarly, if you want a design on the front of a shirt and one on the back, that also adds cost to the item.

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