Having your team’s uniform recognisable on the court or on the field is paramount within any sports team, and is key to visually uniting a team together.
Customised printing and embroidery can take any sports uniform to the next level, and provides that professional touch. But which method is right for your team’s uniforms?
Sublimation is a digital printing method which uses sublimation dyes and heat to permanently fuse the print onto the garment. It works only with 100% polyester fabrics, as polyester reacts with heat to accommodate the sublimation ink. Sublimation is an incredibly popular method due to the fact it’s design possibilities are endless, it uses no water in the printing process making it a more environmentally friendly option, and it is budget friendly. It can be used for small or large batch runs, and produces exact copies of the print for each garment. Sublimation is best for uniforms made of polyester, such as soccer uniforms, basketball uniforms, athletics uniforms and netball dresses.
Digital heat transfer
Digital transfer printing involves printing the desired image or design onto transfer paper, and then pressing the transfer paper onto the garment using heat. The heat then transfers the design from the paper straight onto the fabric of the garment. As digital transfer printing is more time consuming to complete, it is not recommended for bulk orders. There are also limitations to which designs can be printed, and designs that stretch seam to seam, fade out to transparency, or have jagged edges do not work well with digital transfer printing. They are better for small batch runs with designs which do not cover the whole garment. A benefit of digital transfer printing is that it is more flexible with which materials can be printed on to; ranging from cotton, polyester, nylon, polyester-cotton blend and lycra.
Screen printing is a technique which involves ink being pushed through a mesh screen onto the surface of a base material. It blocks out areas which do not need to be covered – much like how a stencil does, therefore creating a design. Screen printing can be used for artwork, but also on textiles and clothing. Screen printing can be used on fabric, wood, metals and even glass, making it quite a versatile technique. If the design utilises multiple colours, the colours must be applied in individual layers. Screen printing can be a more time consuming and costly process, making it a better option for small batch production. However, screen printing produces incredibly vibrancy of colour even on darker base materials. As done by hand, there is room for small inconsistencies, but the fact a stencil is used minimises this.
DTG or ‘direct-to-garment’ printing is a printing technique which uses a special type of printer to print the design directly onto the fabric. There are no transfer steps involved, as the design goes from machine straight to product. The garment absorbs the ink from the print, providing a softer finish than screen printing. DTG can provide a high quality photographic finish, making it an ideal method for printing images onto garments.
Embroidery can add a premium touch to any sports uniform. Embroidery is permanent, incredibly durable and more accessible due to embroidery machines. Embroidery is ideal for logos and lettering, and better used in smaller areas. It can be used to embellish hats, t-shirts, jumpers, sportswear and towels.
So, which should I opt for?
It really comes down to your budget, the time you have available, and which method is best suited to the material of your sports uniforms. Each printing method has its own benefits and drawbacks, and it is worth having knowledge of them. The most common and popular methods used for sports uniforms are typically sublimation and digital heat transfer, due to their lower cost, fast turnaround, and durability of the final product.
It is important to note, that if you wish to opt for sublimation, it can only be completed onto a polyester material. Therefore, if your uniforms are made out of another material you may need to look into digital heat transfer or DTG printing methods.
Embroidery can add a special touch to any sports uniform, but is also ideal for embellishing team merchandise such as hats and towels.
By reaching out to your local printing professional, you will be able to get a feel for which method is right to achieve your vision. Customised garment printing will provide you with a set of polished and perfectly coordinated sports uniforms, which your team will be able to wear with pride.