Personalized T-Shirts: Uses, Types of Printing, Differences and Quality

Personalized T-Shirts: Uses, Types of Printing, Differences and Quality

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Uses of Custom T-Shirts

The first thing that comes to mind when talking about personalized t-shirts is the opportunity to give a nice gift to a loved one. But alongside this use, which we could define as recreational use , there are also many possibilities of use on the one hand which we could define as business , such as:

  • Personalized t-shirts for corporate use : such as personal uniforms to be used in the workplace (this is the case of horeca, or workwear, for example), or a stock of t-shirts with the company logo to be used as a gift during particular events
  • Customized t-shirts for sports use : for example uniforms for a football team, for a marathon, for a sporting event or other sports
  • Personalized t-shirts to create your own brand : you can also decide to create your own personalized brand, with your name and logo. So a personalized print can give you the opportunity to experiment and give vent to your creativity

Personalization techniques

How to customize a t-shirt is perhaps the most complicated (and technical) topic to tackle. This is because each technique has pros and cons, and each of them responds to certain printing needs.

At the dawn of 2023, there are 4 main techniques that are generally used:

  • Screen printing
  • DTG printing
  • DTF printing
  • Embroidery

In the first three cases, personalization occurs through the application of inks on the t-shirt, more or less directly. In the last one, i.e. embroidery, customization obviously takes place through weaving.

Screen printing represents perhaps the oldest method among personalized printing techniques. It is characterized by the “decomposition” of the design into its various layers of color , which are applied to the t-shirt using frames and a specific machine called a silk-screen carousel.

More recent are the two sisters DTG (Direct-To-Garment , i.e. directly on the garment) and DTF (Direct-To-Film, i.e. direct printing on film) printing. The birth of the first dates back to between 2000 and 2005, with the first patents filed and the introduction of the first specialized printers on the market. However, its sister DTF is younger , whose application in the personalized t-shirt segment is only a few years old, but which is rapidly establishing itself as a technique that could revolutionize the entire industry .

These are techniques that involve the use of special printers and water-based inks, and which have become the industry standard as they represent the best compromise between image quality, details, color vividness and production speed.

Advantages of the Various Techniques

It is important to immediately clarify that there is no technique that is better than the others in absolute terms. Each type of customization has its own advantages and disadvantages, and each responds to particular needs.

They can be conceived as complementary . But it is natural to ask whether it is better to personalize with screen printing or DTG printing, especially when you begin to familiarize yourself with all the techniques on the market.

And especially when perhaps the choice falls between two alternatives that may seem essentially the same, such as DTG printing and DTF printing.

How to Choose the Customization Technique for Your T-Shirts

The choice of printing technique is influenced by three factors :

  1. The use that will be made of the t-shirt
  2. The complexity of the design to be customized
  3. The number of pieces you want to order

Let’s look at them point by point.

How Use Affects Choice

In fact, from the use of the t-shirt you will lean towards a specific technique. Highly wearing uses such as those of work or sports uniforms generally lead to choosing screen printing or DTF printing , given the proven durability of its results over time. Or, in the case of a personalization that simply requires the affixing of initials, embroidery.

However, recreational use will not require particular techniques, and the other two factors must therefore be taken into consideration.

The Complexity of Personalization

The complexity of the design can be divided into two further factors, each of which influences the choice of customization method.

  1. The size of the details. In fact, not all printing techniques are able to reproduce details of just a few millimeters in an optimal manner. Usually, when great precision in details is required, we lean towards techniques such as DTF printing
  2. The number of colors present in the design. In fact, the different customization methods also differ in the group of colors they are able to reproduce (the so-called gamut). For example, screen printing is a technique which, due to the way it is processed, is used to create patterns that can generally be broken down into 5-6 colors at most. Limit that does not exist for customization that occurs via DTG or DTF printers.

The Number of Custom T-Shirts Ordered

The number of pieces ordered is the third reason that will direct you towards this or that customization method. In fact, if you don’t have big demands in terms of durability and complexity of the design, the number of t-shirts you want to order could make the difference.

This is because the different printing techniques do not all have the same cost (both in monetary terms and in terms of machine preparation ) from a production point of view . It may therefore happen that a specific printing technique is only available after purchasing a certain number of pieces.

At first it may seem complicated for those who are not experts in the sector to keep all these factors in mind, but with the right configurator it is all very simple.

Quality of Personalized T-Shirts

As with the previous ones, we can also break this point down into its fundamental parts. So that it will then be easier to check the quality of the t-shirt you have customized.

In this sense, therefore, the quality of a personalized t-shirt is given by two elements:

  1. The initial goodness of the chosen item of clothing. Obviously, as with all things, the various t-shirt brands also differ in their quality. We can therefore find more expensive lines , such as Stanley Stella, which however also excel for their commitment to sustainability, and cheaper t-shirt lines , such as Fruit the Loom, which still represent an excellent compromise between price and quality.
  2. The professionalism of the printer or company you will turn to. In this regard, we usually (very wrongly) think that it is better for people to turn to physical shops and companies to whom they can entrust their customization, to the detriment of online customization. In reality, through the possibility of having an unprinted test garment sent to you, having dedicated assistance and a large catalog of garments and printing techniques available, online personalized printing companies often turn out to be the best choice.


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