What’s the Difference Between Transfer Printing and Digital Printing?

Let’s have a look at the characteristics and essence of Transfer Printing versus Digital Printing.

What is it?

Sublimation printing, or transfer printing, is a method or process that involves the creation of a design on a flexible base material and then transferring it to a textile.

Digital printing is a method of producing fabric textiles that involve artwork being handled by a computer and then transferred directly to the textile’s surface.

Key Features

Imaging Features

Designers may now utilize transfer printing or digital printing to produce designs in a virtually limitless number of colours, something that was previously impossible with conventional screen printing.

Design Detail

You can create any design or effect that cannot be recreated by any other printing method with custom imprinting, while digital printing allows for a higher-quality photograph than conventional methods of printing.


Transfer printing uses designs that are printed directly onto cheaper and less bulky base materials such as paper, before being transferred to more expensive fabrics. In contrast, digital printing saves money because the computer and printers are bigger one-time investments, but they allow for cost savings in short runs which aren’t feasible with screen printing due to the expense of screens.

Trained Labour

The procedure of transferring printing is also simple and straightforward, so it does not need a significant level of expertise. Digital printing, on the other hand, necessitates skilled personnel to carry it out.

Ease of Production

Digital printing is best for single garment purchases, while printed-on-demand technology helps to reduce the amount of short-run repeat orders.

Accuracy of Production

In comparison to digital printing, transfer printing necessitates fewer pre- and post-processes, resulting in less waste or errors in production. However, digital printing technology is rapidly developing.

Equipment and Fabrics

Digital printing is more common for man-made fibre textiles such as polyester. Digital printing is accessible for both natural and manufactured fibre textiles (such as cotton). Natural fibre fabrics, on the other hand, necessitate distinct equipment because reactive inks are used to print them (polyester disperse dyes), whereas man-made fabric requires different inks (disperse dyes).

Where are they now?

Both transfer printing and digital printing are quickly developing technologically and practically, but neither has yet dominated the market, so both coexist. It is still up to the seller to choose which method would be best for each purchase.