When you start to shop for custom graphics for your canopy purchase, you’re going to hear the terms “screen printing” (also known as silk screen printing), and “digital printing” used quite a bit. They’re two distinct means of imprinting your canopy material with your own custom graphics. But they also take very different approaches, have different price structures, and can result in much different final results.
There’s no overall, one-size-fits-all option when selecting whether to use silk screening or digital printing processes for your custom canopy graphics.The method you should choose depends upon several factors unique to your needs. Careful research and consideration are the only universal requirement when making a decision.
Screen Printing: Less Expensive – But Fewer Options
Screen printing uses chemically mixed ink and a special mesh screen that acts much like a stencil. The ink is pushed through the stencil screen in a wiping motion onto the canopy surface, where it soaks into the material’s porous fabric.The part or area of the canopy material set off for printing is kept carefully cordoned off and isolated from the rest of the canopy. This process is done for almost every color in the design, with custom technicians using a different screen for every color applied. Background colors that match the color of the canopy material itself do not receive screen printing. Instead, technicians incorporate the canopy material color into the design.
The greatest disadvantages to screen printing are comparative lack of sophistication and clarity (compared to digital printing) and inflexibility. Because the screens cannot bend, designs must remain within one side of the canopy area – it cannot wrap around corners. Additionally, screen printing can only be performed on one side of the canopy material.
Screen printing works best for custom canopy shoppers who have relatively simple designs – usually only two or three colors – and need several or more custom canopies printed. The screens must be printed first, incurring start-up costs, and fees are charged for every “pass,” or application of a different color. However, the screens can be used many times on different canopy units, increasing cost-effectiveness per unit ordered.
Digital Printing: More Expensive – But More Sophisticated
Digital custom canopy printing, also known as digital dye sublimation printing, uses machines that are essentially giant inkjet printers to cover the canopy material with ink. Because the printers are computer controlled, they are capable of much greater clarity and resolution than human-operated screen printers. The printing machinery themselves are also capable of much greater color gradation and shading, and can print around corners or across the entirety of the material surface.
Digital printers can print at resolutions up to 1440 dots per inch (dpi), allowing them to print very complicated designs and even photographs with amazing clarity. However, their benefits also make the process more expensive than screen printing. Because each canopy order must be run separately through the printers, price per unit does not diminish as order size increases.
What Else Can Receive Custom Printing, Besides The Canopy Top?
Printing techniques allow for custom graphics application on headbands (the strip of material around the top of the frame and beneath the canopy top), valences, sidewalls, awnings, and banners. Remember that with screen printing, technicians can only print on one side of the material. However, in some cases they can print designs on two pieces of same-sized fabric and affix them together back-to-back, approximating a two-sided appearance.
How To Order A Custom Canopy
Canopy shoppers can obtain a custom printing quote by filling out the online request form, providing all the basic order information and a JPEG image of the design to be printed. When filling out the information, it’s best to be as specific as possible, giving your preferences and expectations in the fields provided. A customer service representative will contact you within two business days, providing a price quote and a rendering (or rough sketch) of how the completed custom canopy will look. The first rendering is free, with additional renderings available for $50. For the sake of timeliness and accuracy, price quotes and estimates are not available by phone.
Once the quote and rendering are approved, shoppers can submit their design in a high-definition file format such as Adobe Illustrator or EPS Vector. The image is forwarded to Caravan Canopy, who typically complete orders within two weeks. Rush orders (taking five to seven business days) are sometimes available, and accepted on a case-by-case basis. Finally, shipping times and schedules from Caravan’s facilities, located outside Los Angeles, may add to delivery times.