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Picking the best vinyl for screen printing can seem complicated but it doesn’t have to be. For my screen printing with vinyl projects, I prefer to use either adhesive (sticky) vinyl or HTV (iron on vinyl).
This article is an overview of these two common types of vinyl, my favorite brands, and when I use each one in my own projects. (I am discussing my unique method of using the vinyl to make a stencil for screen printing.) Keep reading to learn more about each type and when you should use each one for your own screen printing using vinyl projects.
If you’re ready to start using your Silhouette machine or Cricut for screen printing, trying to decide which vinyl you should use is an important decision because not all vinyl works the same for screen printing.
As a screen printing with vinyl pro, I have tested many different vinyl brands with my Screen Printing With Vinyl process. I have found the best vinyl for screen printing is Oracal 651 and Siser EasyWeed. Oracal 651 is an adhesive (sticky) vinyl and Siser EasyWeed is HTV or iron-on vinyl.
These are my favorite brands because I have put them to the test and I know they work great time after time.
Which one should you use? In order to pick the best vinyl for your screen printing project, you need to determine – Is this design for a one time project or do you plan to use it over again in the future?
If your design is for a custom, one time project, I recommend using Oracal 651 adhesive vinyl. If you plan to use the design over and over again in the future, I recommend you use the Siser EasyWeed to make a permanent screen printing stencil.
One Time Screen Printing with Vinyl Projects
Have you ever needed to make multiple shirts for a big custom order? Oracal 651 adhesive vinyl is great for making your stencil for these projects. Use your vinyl cutter to cut the design, attach it to the screen with transfer tape, and viola. You can use the same screen to print as many times as you need. I've used the same screen to make over 75 shirts at one time! After you are done printing, remove the vinyl and wash the screen. The screen is ready to use for your next project.
This process is one of the reasons I love screen printing with vinyl more than making t-shirts with HTV. Quality HTV can get expensive when doing a bunch of shirts and who has time to weed all those designs. With my vinyl screen printing method, you cut the design once, weed it once, and then use it over and over again on multiple shirts.
Make a Permanent Screen Printing Stencil
If you are looking for a more permanent design for a screen, HTV is what you need to use. Just like with the adhesive vinyl, use your vinyl cutter to cut your design but this time you iron the HTV onto the screen to make it permanent. This creates a permanent screen printing stencil that you can use over and over again.
For example, I get inspired to make things with my logo on them all the time. I don’t want to take the time to cut and weed the vinyl every time this inspiration strikes so I have a screen with my logo ironed on with HTV. Anytime I want to print my logo, I grab this screen and it’s ready to go with my logo already attached. No cutting, no weeding, and no prep time.
You can use this same process if you have a favorite design you want to have on hand for those on demand orders. This is a great option because the HTV design won’t wash off your screen. You can wash and reuse the pre-made screen over and over again. I’ve used and washed my HTV logo – screen combination for over two years now and it still works great.
If you only have one screen but still want a permanent design, you can remove the mesh from the screen and attach a blank mesh for another project if you have to. I recommend having a screen dedicated to each HTV design you plan to use. If you need extra screens, check out the wood screen printing frames I use for my projects.
It Doesn’t have to be Complicated
Finding the best vinyl for screen printing is easier than you might think. You just have to know what kind of project you plan on doing and use the advice above to meet your needs.
Want to hear more about the vinyl types, watch this YouTube video: