Different Textile Print Methods and Finishes

There are different methods of textile printing depending on the fabric, design and finish required. This guide goes through three types; Screen printing, DTG, Heat Transfer and DST.

Screen Printing

If your logo uses a limited amount of block colours, screen printing gives the most natural looking finish and is the most cost effective method for larger orders. Most printing you see in the High Street shops will have been printed this way.

Screen printing works by applying ink through a mesh screen which has had the design exposed on to it. The first stage of the process is separating the design into the different colours that are required for the design. For each separate colour an additional screen is required, so a design with 4 colours in it will need 4 screens. After each colour has been applied it goes through a dryer which dries the ink onto the fabric to make it permanent. Screen printing is the most popular method of textile printing, it has been used for more that 100 years in the commercial and artistic sector. Its popularity is due to:

  • The excellent quality/price ratio for large print runs
  • Perfect colour reproduction with pantone matching
  • The durability of the screen-printed items
  • High level of vibrancy

Screen printing is recommended for larger orders and designs with block colours of up to 10. It is especially recommended for printed bags with a logo. For shorter print runs and full colour complex designs such as photographs and gradient colours digital printing/heat transfer printing is recommended.

Colour Range

Screen printing uses a pigment based ink system that can be mixed to any pantone reference, and can therefore match your design or branding perfectly ur branding. Screen printing is environmentally friendly as all the inks are water based and contain no harmful chemicals. The near exact amount needed for a particular job can be mixed, depending on coverage and quantity, which means no wastage and if there is leftover ink, it can be recycled. 

Special Finishes

If your design requires an special finish, we have a selection of foils, glitters and metallics available that can be screen printed.


Foiling is a 2 step process where we first screen print an adhesive, then heat transfer the foil over it. The foil is then peeled away to leave an extra shiny finish. Foil comes in a number of colours. 


For that winning touch gold, silver and bronze metallic inks deliver a subtle shimmer that won't rub off or peel.


Glitter inks provide a bling factor. Glitter inks comprise of a base colour (mixable to any pantone) with shiny specs that sparkle in the light. 


Neons and fluorescent inks are popular in certain seasons and as fashion dictates. These inks guarantee maximum visibility and look particularly great on dark coloured fabrics.

Expanding Ink

Expanding ink gives a 3d effect with a soft, fluffy finish.

Get creative! Certain inks and print techniques can be mixed and matched, so why not create a truly unique product?

Heat Transfer Printing

If you have a logo or design that uses full colour (for instance, a photograph) then digital printing is the way to go. Capable of accurately replicating a complex piece of artwork, digital printing takes care of any piece of artwork with fine detail or use of many colours. The image is transferred onto the bag using specialist transfer paper and heat press equipment. 

Heat transfer or digital printing is the process used for printing designs with full colour or very fine detail onto light coloured bases. This involves the design first being printed on a piece of transfer paper, followed by it being heat pressed onto the product. The paper is then peeled away whilst hot to reveal the finished design. The finish is soft with a slightly waxy feel.

The advantages of Heat transfer printing are:

  • It is an ideal way to replicate artwork accurately
  • Better for smaller orders
  • Better for intricate full colour designs

As heat transfer printing is only suitable for light coloured fabrics, DST printing is recommended for black and darker fabric where a photographic full colour design is required, and the client doesn’t mind the shinier finish a DST gives.

DST Printing

DST (digital screen technology) is the print method used to print full colour images onto dark bases. It combines both screen and digital printing to achieve an unrivalled replication of your original artwork. First a screen-printed backing is created, then it is combined with a digital transfer to create a durable transfer that is then applied to the product. DST produces transfers that have all the characteristics of traditional transfers, such as stretch, soft feel and durability. The transfers are extremely durable and can withstand 40°C washing and dry cleaning making them suitable for work wear and leisurewear. The adhesives are water based and do not contain PVC, Phthalates or Solvents.

Advantages include:

  • The finished design looks nearly as bright and vibrant as it does on a computer screen.
  • Extremely durable
  • Print light colours on to dark fabrics
  • Printable onto a wide range of fabrics


DTG Printing

Direct to Garment (DTG) is a relatively new printing method where a printer directly applies the ink onto the fabric with inkjet technology, a lot like how paper is printed on to. DTG uses speciality water-based inks, which are absorbed by the fibres of the garment, and making it soft to touch. It is excellent for accurately replicating photos, illustrations and full colour designs, that screen printing finds too complex. As there is little to no set up cost it’s perfect for one off orders or for those of you just starting out and not wanting to commit to a larger order. DTG printing is currently only possible on items that are 100% cotton, however there are a lot of advantages:

  • Not limited to colours or designs
  • Great for smaller print runs and one off orders
  • Vibrant even on darker colours
  • No cracking or peeling

At BIDBI we print cotton bags with your logo or design. Using a variety of print techniques, we can create a unique product for your business. Browse our range of cotton bags and submit an enquiry with your logo or artwork.