Digital printing versus Screen Printing 


Written by: Samantha Li  






Printing is an process of producing hard copies of an image on a paper or on any printable material. The method was popular among artists who transferred their artwork on fabrics. Over the years printing has evolved, and has been embraced in different settings and environments.  


There are two distinct printing methods that we are going to focus on:-screen printing and digital printing. The two methods are prominent in the printing world.  



Screen printing refers to traditional production of hard copies of a document whereby a stencil is created. The stencil is used to apply ink in layers for printing.   


Digital printing refers to creation of hard copies of documents using a computer.Digital printing has been embraced so much but has not entirely replaced the screen printing. 



Digital printing was introduced recently. This method of printing has come with its benefits. As you will note, screen printing still has its place in the world of printing. Therefore, digital printing cannot replace screen printing.  


Both types of printing are frequently used today. There are some printing tasks which can only be done using screen printing. There are other tasks which can only be done using digital printing method. That means none of the method is dispensable.    


Screen printing and digital printing may not be used alternatively. None of the methods can be used as a substitute for another. That means going through the differences highlighted below is crucial. The differences will help you understand which method is suitable for your needs.   



In choosing a suitable method of printing, first find out how each of the methods works. There are many differences between these two methods. The differences make each of the printing method be suitable for a particular task, and not the other.   


Here, we will look at various differences between the two. The differences are in terms of application of each, cost, quality, and benefits of each type.  


First, you should establish what you want to print, the material you want to print on and the quantity. Each printing method is different, and is suitable for a particular type of printing.  



For instance, digital printing is suitable for customisedbulk printing. Alternatively, you can choose screen printing for general printing.  


Digital printing gives modern look on the final product. On the other hand, screen printing gives authentic look on the final product.  



The following are some of distinguishing differences between the two types of printing;

  1. Use 


Screen printing is used in printing on different types of printing such as plastic, latex and textiles. The method does not exert pressure on the printing surface. That makes the method suitable for printing on soft materials like balloons. 


On the other hand, digital printing is used for printing items that require the modern finish look. The method is detailed, and can be used in customised printing. The method is fast and easy as compared to screen printing. 



2. Prices 


The price is based of the number of copies you need to be reproduced.  

Screen printing is cheap forprinting many copies. This is because the set up cost is high. In case you need only a few copies, screen printing is not the best choice. Screen printing is expensive when you need to print more than one color. Each extra color comes at a cost. However, if you want to print black and white, then screen printing is a more affordable option. 


On the other hand, digital printing is cheap to use for few copies’ printing. There is no initial fee required to do digital printing. Also, digital printing is cheap for printing multiple colors. 


Therefore, the price differs based on quantity of print and number of colors you want to use.   


3. Age. 


Screen printing was used in ancient times by artists on silk fabrics. The screen printing method was popular in Egypt, then it spread to China in 900 A.D. In 1880’s, screen printing was adopted in commercial fabric decoration. The method has evolved over the years, and remains popular even today. 


Digital printing method was innovated recently. The first digital printing press was released in 1990’s. Today, the method is so efficient that thousands of copies can be printed with seconds.



4. Quality 


Screen printing produces quality work when used to print on dark surfaces.   On the other hand, digital printing is suitable for precise printing. The method is good for detailed printing. 


5. Speed 


Digital printing is a very fast printing method. You can print many copies within a very short time.  


Screen printing on the other hand is a bit slow. It takes time to set it up for printing. The only benefit of screen printing is that, it is fast only if you a printing a single item. After setting it up, you only need to reproduce the copies which is fast. Otherwise, it's not a good option for fast printing. 


6. Flexibility 


Digital printing is very versatile. The document to print is first prepared in a computer screen. You can play around with the item you want to print. You can change the sizes, and shapes easily by clicking a button.  


Screen printing on the hand is fixed. There is nothing you cannot do on a document to change it once a stencil is set. That means you have to be precise on what you want from the start.   





The above outlined differences depicts that none of the printing method is superior over the other. You only need to understand the cost implications of each method. 

 Additionally, look at the what you want to be printed to be able to choose the most suitable printing method. 


As we have seen, each of the methods has distinct benefits and drawbacks that cannot be ignored.  


With the above information, I’m very sure you will not go wrong in choosing either of the methods. Screen printing is suitable for particular printing tasks, and not others. All the best in choosing which printing method is suitable. 


Since both methods of printing are important, the dealers can only concentrate on making each of the methods better. This is for the advantage of users. Innovations in the world of printing will also lower the cost of printing.



In addition, the users will have options to choose from based on the quality of work they want, and their budget. The manufacturers must ensure there is a product for every one. Printing experience must be made better each day.  


When choosing the most suitable method of printing, ensure you get the one that will give you the desired end product, cheaply and within the required. The printing method you choose should not make you compromise of quality of output.