The source you see below about the Printing Techniques comes from the Spreadsheet Printing provider I use in this shop. URL is: https://help.spreadshirt.com/hc/en-gb/articles/207487605-Printing-Techniques.
Just before you start read about the printing type differences let me give you some heads up and examples so you can understand more why in my shop you'll find Designs which have two sepearate versions for Flex and Digital, and some Designs only have Digital or Flex.
The Flex Printing methods (Smooth and Valvety) allow you to change the colors of the Design and the Quality of the Graphics on the Product is amazing, as a Designer the only dissadvantage is that this method comms with limitations. It can be only a Image with max 3 colors, and very often complex images like the "White Beast" just can't be converted for Flex Print, also Flex Print has pre defined palette of colours, which sometimes doesn't fit my expectations.
I don't want to say that using Flex Print is bad, it's actually the right opposite. I would suggest first go ahead with Flex Print Designs as the quality is really amazing, but the reason why I would have two version for Some Designs is because the Digital option would have more small details in the Picturte, and would have the Colors originally designed with the image, where Flexi Print gives me and you more Freedom where you can play aroung with the colors to fit the Design to the Product and its color you choose.
From the other hand some designs are only Digital, because converting them to Flex Print didn't look good.
Most of the time i design Images to fit Flex Print, but if there is something which require more details then I don't have a problem order a T-Shirt with Digital Print.
Smooth (Flex print)
|Matte, overlying colour foil||Very high||Designs in 1 to 3 colours|
|The design is printed on matte foil and then heat-pressed on the product|
Flex is a printing technique where the design is cut from a coloured foil and then pressed onto the shirt under high heat. Some flex printing features are:
The printed colours have a slight shine to them and contrast extremely well with fabric.
Longevity and durability
Tests have shown that the form and colour of the flex print barely change after 100 washes. It is made of a flexible and resilient material - even thin lines do not break.
Velvety (Flock print)
|Velvety, overlying colour foil||Very high||Designs in 1 to 3 colours|
|The design is cut out of a velvety foil and then heat-pressed on the product.|
Flock is a printing technique where the design is cut from a coloured foil and then pressed onto the shirt under high heat. Flock printing features:
A flock print has a velvety, fuzzy surface. The foil (0.5 mm) is somewhat thicker than flex, which causes the design to appear slightly elevated from the apparel and results in the plush feel. The colours have a soft glow to them.
Longevity and durability
Flock designs retain their colour brilliance after many washes.
|Inked surface||High||Photos, multi-colours, large-areas|
|The colours are sprayed onto the product. This is done with a computer-controlled printer.|
Thermal sublimation for Accessories
|Inked surface||Very high||Mugs, cups, covers|
|The design is transfered to a special foil and then heat-pressed onto the product.|
Thermal sublimation is a printing technique used for mugs, beakers and covers (iPad, Kindle, Smartphone).
When printing with thermal sublimation, the design or text are first printed back-to-front on a carrier foil. By applying a lot of heat (hence ‘thermal’) the design is then steamed off of the foil onto the product. A special layer on the product reacts with colour pigments and fixates them into the products permanently.
The result is a vividly coloured image that is integrated directly into the product's surface - the design does not protrude from the product. Extreme durability also after exposure to sunlight make thermal sublimination a long-lasting and high-quality option for accessories.