Deciding on venturing out into the world of fabric printing but cannot decide where to start? No need to worry. You have options which I am about to simplify to help ease your decision-making. Fabric printing can be in two forms – the traditional printing fabrics via stencils called screen printing and the modern digital printing. The former requires some hard work but the design can come out more alive with colors while the latter requires you to have the equipment to print onto the fabric but is instantaneous and is ideal for detailed designs.
The difference in the output of the fabric designs lies on the process of each form and also the resources required. For screen printing, you would only require a few "kits" – a design printed on a stencil and the fabric ink of your choice. Since the process for this is quite manual, the ink application is more direct and thus, can be brighter and the hues striking. However, because of this, quality control is an integral part of the process. Unless, you want smudges of colors all over your fabric then you need to be careful once you have "applied" the layers of inks onto the fabric. At the same time, you would need time to dry out the ink onto the fabric so you would need space for this.
On the other hand, for digital printing on fabrics, you first need a digital printer. You can print your own design or other image onto the fabric as and when you want and as many time as you need. And digital printing can add any color without any additional modulation that will make additional cost. The catch though is that you would need to be aware of image copyrights. Best to get your images from free sources online. Otherwise, you can create your own design. As noted, you would need to source for the quality printer, which requires a more capital than if you do screen-printing. Other than that, you require less process and space to be able to do this.
From a business perspective, digital printing makes more sense for those aiming at "bulk" and urgent orders on fabrics ONLY and the design with many color. At the same time, you can set a competitive pricing since the capital and labor required is not much. Although you might not be able to accommodate designs that require vibrancy of colors. This usually is the case for campaign shirts orders.
Conversely, if you were aiming for the multi-media market that requires the same design printed onto various surfaces, screen-printing would be your best bet. To get design consistency on various surfaces apart from fabrics, stencil use is more practical and economical. In addition, you can price different orders according to the complexity of the designs, i.e. how colourful the design is, because this would require more usage of the fabric inks which one of your pricier resources. This is apart to how complicated the design can be transferred onto the stencil. However, you will not be able to accommodate urgent (same-day) bulk orders.