A common question of customers is "What is considered a "quality" printing method?" or "What print method has a better quality printing? "X" or "Y"?"
Here you go on perceived QUALITY of printing method in order, with a brief description:
* Screen printing - The industry standard. Great for volume orders, can be very affordable in volume. Low quantity may be cost prohibitive due to screen/set up charges. Great quality, vibrant colors. Water based inks and discharge screen printing have a softer feel than plastisol screen printing.
* Plastisol transfers - The designs are screen printed with plastisol ink onto release paper that can be applied with a heat press as shirts are ordered. Same quality as plastisol screen printing. Have to be custom ordered unless you can screen print. Best pricing is in bulk orders. Good to gang designs on one sheet for price break when possible.
* DTG - Can print detailed designs with alot of colors, soft feel. Can do 1 offs affordably. DTG is costly to buy. Some Dtg printers mention issues with white ink. Images can look less vibrant than screened. Can do photo like images.
* Vinyl - Durable. Can layer vinyl for designs, up until a certain point, then it can become too heavy of a feel. Can layer in colors. Can do 1 offs affordably. Works on many fabrics. Using a different kind of vinyl - can add signs, banners, decals and more using your cutter.
* Sublimation dye - Works best on 100% polyester, dyes fabric = no hand, lasts. Ink is expensive. Light shirts. Can do photo like images. Can do 1 offs. Can add mugs, tiles and other hard substrates to product list.
* Laser transfers - Can cost a little more to get into than inkjet heat transfer, but I hear the cost per shirt is less to produce, making this process more affordable over time. There is a paper called Image clip that makes it possible to transfer to cotton, cotton blends without a window. Best for light shirts. Products for darks can be expensive, difficult. Can do photo like images. Can do 1 offs affordably.
* Inkjet heat transfers - Affordable to get into. Can do photo like images and 1 offs affordably. Alot of advances in quality due to a paper like Jetprosofstretch for lights. Printers are pretty cheap. Ink is cheap when bought at 3rd party generic ink suppliers. Bulk ink systems for the printer help add to affordability. Re-fill carts are easier to use (so they say.)