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Embroidered or Printed Branding on Your Workwear - How To Decide

There are many factors to consider when choosing between the embroidery and printing techniques for custom branding your workwear. Printing allows for complicated designs but embroidered workwear can add a touch of class to the branded look of employees.

After giving this careful consideration, and with the wealth of experience at Xamax, together we will create a superior finish to your work uniform, workwear or customised clothing without wasting any of your budget.

Learn The Differences Between Embroidery And Printing

The printing and embroidering processes are vastly different. They produce an entirely different look, appearance and functionality and can sometimes only be used on particular garment types or materials.

Embroidery involves using high-precision CNC machinery to stitch a garment thousands of times within a small space. This allows you to have a highly detailed embroidered design on your company workwear or business wear items.

And it looks fantastic on Shirts, Polos, Softshells, Jumpers, Aprons and all other manner of smart uniform clothing.

Printing is a diverse process with a few different techniques. In essence, though, there are two types of printing;

  • Direct printing involves applying inks directly onto the fabric using a silk screen or DTG process.
  • Indirect printing involves applying inks on to a substrate, before applying that printed substrate to the fabric.

Again, these different techniques have respective strengths and weaknesses, cost implications and best instances of when to use them.

One Technique Does Not Rule Them All

You should find a workwear & uniform supplier who can offer decoration techniques that create the best reproduction of your design for your chosen garments. Not all techniques work with all garments and not all techniques work with all designs.

Some considerations we take into account when advising you:

  • Some garments cannot be screen printed as they could foul the machines, but a transfer print would work fine.
  • Some elaborate and colourful designs cannot be screen printed, but a DTG print would work well.
  • Synthetic fabrics cannot be DTG printed, so they would need to be screen printed or transferred.
  • Due to the involved process of screen making and ink mixing, screen printing is only cost-effective for runs over 30.
  • Some garments cannot be printed at all, and embroidery is the only option - and vice versa.

The best way to create company workwear or business clothing always involves having experience in a mix of customisation techniques.

Learn More About The Different Types Of Print

Screen printing originated in China almost 1000 years ago, but was first made into a commercial technique in 1911. The process involves pushing ink through a mesh onto a substrate (in our case, a workwear garment or t-shirt). The design is created by masking off the mesh so ink is only pushed through in certain areas.

Macro image of a mesh screen showing the stencilled area.
Credit: Janke at the English language Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]

Inks come in many countless standard colours - a close enough match for 99% of branding - but they can be mixed to an exact specification by our skilled printers if needs be.

There is a lot of setup involved here, so this method works out expensive for small runs, but it becomes more cost effective when order numbers get higher. We usually suggest a minimum order of 100 items for screen printing.

Of course, there are other types of printing which are indirect methods.

They are called this because the printing actually takes places away from the garment and the printed detail is then added onto the garment itself. Kind of like a heat transfer name and number on a sports shirt, if you will, but with a higher level of detail.

There's also various options here with high-res digital applications, precision CAD cut single colour vinyl materials and cost friendly budget transfers for things like promo t-shirts.

There's a print technique suitable for every garment, budget and artwork style.

Make sure you're using the best one for your company workwear order.

Learn What Influences The Final Look

The final look is of paramount importance. The way your brand is first presented to people is often through your custom printed workwear or embroidered business wear items. You don't want to give the wrong impression.

Embroidery gives a textured feel and appearance to a piece of artwork or branding. This is because the threads used are slightly raised above the surrounding garment. That's great if you want a prominent, classic style of branding or want a longlasting item like embroidered overalls - but might not suit if you're going casual or sleek in your branding.

It also catches the light differently than something like a vinyl transfer which sits onto a piece of clothing and gives sharp, clean definition.

The surrounding garment's colour and material also affects how the viewer sees your logo.

This is especially true when using screen printing because a mixed ink will give a very different finish on two t-shirts when one is white and one is black, for example, or if used on similarly coloured garments made of different fabrics.

Different branding techniques also give different levels of finish on different materials. A style of garment isn't the only thing to consider either; did you know that polo shirts are made of different materials so therefore might need different branding techniques?

Consider All These Variables

Besides all of the aforementioned appearance variables, which garment(s) you are branding and which technique(s) you use on your company workwear will be influenced by:

  • Durability: Embroidery will last as long as or longer than the garment itself, usually, but does your job role or industry need it to? What if it's just a promo weekend or you work in a job which wears out clothing at a rapid rate?
  • Cost Effectiveness: Some techniques cost more than others and the price changes depending on the size of your order.
  • Colour Matching: Will you need a specific colour for your artwork? Will the standard colours look right on the colour of garment you choose?
  • Detail Level Of Artwork: Some designs might be better suited to a particular customisation type - but does that technique work on the garment you like?
  • Garment Suitability: And always remember that certain garments can only use certain branding techniques and others suit certain techniques over others.

If in doubt, speak to your supplier who will be more than happy to work through your order and make sure all of your custom workwear or business wear items showcase your brand and business in the best possible light.

Get The Full Story Behind Print v Embroidery

As there are so many variables to consider at once, one blog post doesn't do the complex nature of choosing the right customisation technique for your order justice. That's why we've put together a guide completely dedicated to helping you choose when to use embroidery and when to use the various different print options.


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      Your Details

      Why do we ask?
      This gives us an idea of which member of our team could best help you.