What’s the difference between workwear printing and embroidery?
This is one of the first questions we’re often asked here at City Workwear, and happily, the answer is quite simple. Embroidery is a technique that conveys an image onto a garment by stitching threads directly into the fabric using highly sophisticated machinery. Printing, on the other hand, is just that - when images are printed directly onto the garment with ink, or by using a sheet of vinyl.
Workwear embroidery vs printing - which one’s right for me?
That depends. Technically, you can use both application techniques on almost any garment. However, they’ve each got their own unique set of characteristics and advantages that make them best suited to different purposes, so it’s worth weighing up the decision to be sure you know which one will produce the best results.
When you come to make the decision, here’s what you’ll need to know:
- What kind of garments you’re looking for (for example, polo shirts or t-shirts)
- The required lifespan of the garment, and the longevity of the image itself
- Where the logo will be placed
- What colours will it use
- The size it will be
- How many garments you’ll need, and their respective sizes
Once you’ve got all that information to hand, it’s time to get down to brass tacks.
Best suited for:
Workwear, uniforms, hi viz jackets, and any other professional garments that are designed to be long lasting, or worn on a frequent regular basis. Embroidery is best suited to a high quality and thicker garment such as a polo shirt, hoodie or sweatshirt. (A quick note here - fabrics under 175gsm tend to be too thin for embroidery, which can sometimes result in the fabric pulling, or ‘puckering’.)
Key advantages of embroidering workwear in brief:
- High quality, professional finish
- Long lasting and economical
- Highly durable, lasting for the garment’s lifetime
Best suited for:
Lighter garments such as T-shirts, or those used for advertising or promotional uses, such as one-off promotional or charity events. For these garments, printing is the best choice as it doesn’t have too much of an effect on the feel or the wearability of the garment, and won’t ‘pucker’ the material.
Key advantages of printed workwear in brief:
- Best for large designs
- Useful for intricate designs
- Lower setup cost than embroidery
Key advantages of workwear printing in detail:
Printing tends to be better at conveying larger designs or brighter colours, which can be great for catching passing glances and drawing more attention to a particular product, service or cause. This is one of the main reasons why printed garments are such popular choices for advertising or promotional events. It’s also perfect for conveying far more intricate designs than embroidery, such as hand-drawn illustrations or photographs.
It also has a lower setup cost than embroidery, but since embroidered workwear tends to have a long serviceable lifespan, the comparison normally isn’t quite that straightforward. Depending on the circumstances, embroidery can often end up working out to be more cost-effective in the long run.
Our 3 step workwear personalisation process
We like to make things simple for you here at City Workwear, so when you order through our website, you can complete your order in just three simple steps.
Select your garment colour and size
We’ve got a huge range of workwear for you to choose from here on our site, ranging from simple T-shirts and polo shirts to hoodies, workwear jackets and coats, and caps, aprons and hi viz jackets. All are available in a number of sizes, styles and colours, so whatever you’re looking for, you can be sure that we’ll have something that fits the bill.
Add your free logo or text
We offer a free logo printing and embroidery service here at City Workwear, so here’s where you can submit your finished design, ready to be added to your workwear garments. If you’ve got any questions or you need any help with anything, our friendly team are only too happy to advise.
As soon as you’ve chosen your workwear and submitted your design, you’ll be taken straight to the checkout. Shortly afterwards, we’ll be ready to get started on creating your workwear. Our typical turnaround is just five working days, and we’ll make sure to keep you posted with any updates you need, so you can be sure you’ll never be waiting too long.
When you send us your artwork, we use the latest software to digitise it into a stitch format, ready for our embroidery machines. We’ll then send you a final PDF file of your design, so that you can give your final approval before we go ahead.
As soon as the last instructions (such as the colour of the threads) have been submitted, the embroidery process itself begins. This involves a metal frame being placed onto the garment, while a backing fabric is applied to the logo area. This bit is important because it ensures that the garment is secure while the logo’s being stitched onto it. This can sometimes leave a temporary mark on the garment, but it’s easily removed by rubbing it off or giving it a quick wash.
Once the garments have been stitched, we just have to make a few final arrangements, and then we can ship your purchases to you. Simple and straightforward - just how we like to do things here at City Workwear.
Print isn’t that much more complex than the embroidery process, and as with embroidery, we use state-of-the-art machines to guarantee the best results for your workwear garments. However, there are three different print techniques to choose from. If you’re unsure, our friendly team can always advise on which one we think would be best for you.
This form of printing has a long history behind it, and it tends to be a top preference for bright and vibrant colours, as it conveys these better. It essentially involves applying multi-coloured inks to your garment through the use of mesh screens.
When you send your logo through to us, one of the first things we’ll do is separate it out into different colours. Each layer of colour will be applied individually using a different screen. Between each screen, we’ll use a heat lamp to ensure that the colours are setting properly. Once all of them have been applied, we’ll put the garment through a drying process to ensure that the design is permanent. This process is useful for a wide variety of garments, from t-shirts to hoodies, and it’s best suited to larger orders of 20 items or more.
This form of printing uses a specialist machine to apply the design directly onto the garment, rather than doing so in layers like in screen printing. It’s therefore best for particularly intricate or complex designs, or those which have a wide spectrum of colours. This also requires a specialist type of ink, which is directly absorbed into the fibres.
Before the garments go into full production, a fixing agent is first applied, designed to ensure that the colour adheres properly. You might notice the slightly chemical smell of the fixing agents on your garments when they arrive, so we generally recommend that you wash your new purchases before wearing them for the first time.
This is one of the most simple and straightforward forms of printing. Essentially, a sheet of vinyl is cut into the shape of your logo, and then we use a heat press to heat seal it onto your garment.
Transfer printing is a popular choice for the simplest designs with the fewest number of colours - either single-coloured designs, or those with only two or three. It’s also a good option if you need a relatively small number of garments. In terms of material, transfer printing is a versatile process that can be easily applied to almost any type of material, including fleece or wool. We typically recommend it for personalising high-vis jackets.
And really that’s all there is to it! If you’ve got any questions that haven’t been covered by the above, we’re here to help. Feel free to submit your query via our contact form, or give us a call on 0330 004 0440, and we’ll be happy to see what we can do.