Screen printing
and digital technologies

Roland digital printers:
a profitable choice for any screen printer

If you are an existing screen-printing business looking to accelerate production of short runs and one-off designs, or a new entrepreneur beginning to explore the world of bespoke and customised print, on-demand digital printing offers an exciting opportunity for your business. Digital printing technology is an affordable, creative and effective way to quickly bring colourful designs to life – on almost any material, in any size and any number.

screen printers and digital technologies background

Opportunities for screen printers

According to a FESPA Print Census report, sign and display will grow as a revenue stream for screen printers from 32% to 48%, followed by textiles, from 27% to 39%. Eco-solvent – the most popular and convenient solution for printing onto vinyl and PVC, as well as dozens of other substrates – will continue to grow, by 3%.

Direct-to garment (DTG) printing systems will play an important part in the revenue stream for screen print companies, both entry-level and mid-sized devices. Signs, posters, banners, decals, sports apparel, garments and fast fashion are the most widely produced applications in this market, followed by many more that are certainly worthwhile exploring, thanks to their high profit potential.

Phone cases printed with Roland DG VersaUV LEF2 Series
Phone cases printed with Roland DG VersaUV LEF2 Series

Quick and easy
from one to hundreds

Digital printing offers a range of benefits that can help your screen printing business make healthy profits – while you remain creative, customer-focused and in control.

Digital printing is a perfect complement to your screen printing and pad printing applications. It satisfies on-demand requests for short-run production on almost any material, combined with steadier long-run graphic output delivered by screen printing. In this way, you can fulfil a whole range of customer demands while retaining the creative potential to offer brand-new graphic applications.

Outdoor graphics printed with Roland DG eco-solvent printers

Fast, accurate
and durable printing

One of the most exciting features of digital printing is its exceptional responsiveness, with no need for film and screen preparation. The set-up is immediate: switch on your digital printer when you arrive in the studio, set the artwork in your graphic software and start printing. It's that quick and straightforward to print full-colour images without multiple layers. Digital printers offer different print speeds depending on the required output quality, giving you a number of options to achieve fast production and accurate colour reproduction.

Outdoor graphics printed with Roland DG eco-solvent printers
Image showing money saved in a jar

Set-up costs

For digital printing, set-up costs are low – essentially just the cost of material and ink – and you can start printing right away, as soon as the file is ready. Furthermore, once you receive the file from the customer you can move from one application to another, often on the same machine. If you have a combined print and cut device, you can offer your customer a poster, a series of stickers, a T-shirt, a window graphic, a car decal and more, simply by changing the material on your digital device.

VersaWorks 6 shown on laptop next to TrueVIS VG printer/cutter

Ready to work,
right out of the box

It's essential to be able to integrate new technology into your daily working process quickly and easily. When choosing a piece of new equipment, you should have the reassurance that it will be easy to install, fit into your workflow and have a smooth learning curve. One of the exciting aspects of digital printing, whatever the technology, is that it can fit easily into your daily routine and you and your staff can be ready to print after just few hours of training. You don't have to wait to be productive.

Compact or production-sized

Digital printers, whether they use eco-solvent, UV or textile printing technology, are built to fit into small studios as well as larger production environments. When you consider a digital printer for your screen printing company, you usually have a choice of different sizes to help you select the perfect system for your workspace and production needs. For textile, UV and eco-solvent printing there are several options in terms of size, so it's easy to add a small-footprint system into your existing workflow and upgrade to a larger production printer when the right time comes. Some printer models are genuinely desktop-sized, which has enabled lots of entrepreneurs to start their businesses from a kitchen table, and companies of any size to add small printed work to their services.

The right technology for you

The choice of technology is one of the fascinating aspects of digital printing – and once you have adopted one you'll want to run many different systems side by side, to expand your services and approach exciting new markets. There are several types of digital printing technologies that can be the perfect accompaniment to screen printing or help a new business get off the ground. All are easy to use, are clean and safe, and produce amazingly accurate results in terms of image clarity and colour reproduction.

Roland VersaUV LEF2-300 desktop UV printer
Roland VersaUV LEF2-300 desktop UV printer

UV printing

UV is one of the most rapidly developing technologies in this sector and a must-have for any screen printer or pad printer. Available in different sizes and production capacities, UV printing is perfect for a huge range of output, from personalised products and giveaway items, to electronic devices and packaging prototypes, and many more.

There are different Roland UV devices for different targets. Benchtop VersaUV devices offer incredible flexibility in terms of size and production speed, making them ideal for the customisation of small items. Others, like the IU-1000F flatbed, deliver exceptional productivity and are the perfect solution for printing on boards and objects at fast speeds.

UV also couples perfectly with eco-solvent print, especially as they share the same RIP software to minimise the learning curve. The colour reproduction is very high quality and detailed, and many devices, such as some from Roland VersaUV series, can run white ink and varnish to achieve 3D matte and glossy effects on your work.

Roland GS-24 desktop cutter
Roland GS-24 desktop cutter

Heat transfer printing

Heat transfer printing – also known as digital transfer or thermal transfer printing – is a popular way to decorate textile products like T-shirts, caps and tote bags. Your designs are printed onto transfer paper, then heat and pressure are applied to transfer the ink onto the fabric. Roland offers a range of digital printer/cutter systems to make this process clean and smooth.

Again, you can couple such devices with your screen printing systems. Today, manufacturers offer dozens of different materials that are compatible with print and cut eco-solvent machines – flock, 3D, embossed, stretchable and many more. You can quickly expand your application portfolio just by changing the material in your device.

Roland Texart XT-640
Roland Texart XT-640

Dye-sublimation printing

Dye-sublimation printers are ideal for adding your artwork to durable fabrics, even in the brightest and deepest colours. These systems use the heat-transfer method to transfer, through a calender, crisp and colourful decoration to textiles like apparel and soft signage. They can also be used to customise rigid products like or aluminium plates or motorbike helmets. Another exciting application is sportswear. You can transfer your prints onto stretchable and technical textiles to produce team uniforms and sports kit, on demand.

The Roland Texart range has been designed specifically for fast and effective dye-sublimation printing and includes systems for both direct (directly to textile) and indirect printing (prints on paper that are transferred onto fabrics through a calender).

Roland VersaStudio BT-12 Direct-to-garment printer
Roland VersaStudio BT-12 Direct-to-garment printer

Direct-to-garment printing

Using the right technology, digital printing methods allow you to print your designs directly to garments and fabrics. Production systems, like the Roland Texart RT-640M multi-function direct and indirect sublimation printer, are perfect for larger-scale work like interior decor fabrics and soft signage. Others, like the compact Roland VersaSTUDIO BT-12 direct-to-garment printer, make it easy to add customisation to cotton T-shirts and bags in the smallest workspace. It's also possible to print directly onto soft materials with UV printers from the Roland VersaUV range.

Opportunities and Applications

As you've seen, digital printing technology can boost a screen printing workflow by adding a quick-print option, expanding a colour gamut and increasing material compatibility. Some digital printers are very compact and affordable, allowing businesses to invest in the latest technology that won't break the bank, while other systems are larger production models, or also feature a contour-cutting function that can take the work out of manual finishing processes.

As a screen printer, you undoubtedly get a variety of requests from your customers. Choosing new equipment that offers the right flexibility to produce many different kinds of applications, or pairing two different technologies, will add more power to your printing portfolio. Roland systems offer excellent application versatility, so you can bring your creative ideas to life or respond to your customers' requirements on-demand. Let's dive into the most exciting applications you can offer using Roland digital printers.