There are mainly three great options these days for printing table covers. They are thermal transfer, dye sublimation and screen printing. Each option has its advantages and some, depending on your needs, are better suited for your projects than others. The better you know about these printing options, the better you will be able to make an informed choice for your project.

THERMAL TRANSFER: Thermal transfer (sometimes called digital heat transfer) is a printing process where your image prints on a special transfer paper. After it prints, the paper is laid onto the material and heat is applied to transfer the image to the tablecloth.

Can print on dark materials
Good color
Lower cost than other options

Color options are limited 
Transfer size is limited
Is only suitable to 1-color applications with simple line art.

Best Uses
Good choice for simple logos/line art
Great when cost is a factor 

DYE SUBLIMATION: Once considered the best process for only shorter printing runs, it is now being used for larger runs. Dye sublimation is another transfer printing process, but unlike thermal transfer, special inks are infused with the material instead of only laying on top. Images on the fabric won’t fade or crack even after multiple washings. This is the same printing process used for large-scale, trade show tension fabric back walls. For dye sublimation, your design is printed onto a special transfer paper, which is then applied to the material using a heat press. The heat from the press sublimates the ink on the transfer paper, meaning it goes directly from a solid to a gas without becoming a liquid in between. As a gas, the ink penetrates the material better, making it a more durable and longer lasting.

Infuses with the material, not just applied on top
Vivid photorealistic colors
Maintains soft feel of fabrics
Long washability life

Limited to polyester or poly treated fabric products

Best Uses
Long lasting branding or signage that you will be using over and over for long periods.
Great for complex designs

SCREEN PRINTING: Screen printing is another high quality process. It’s advantage is that it can be printed on any material, but since there are only a few materials to choose from when it comes to trade show table covers it will not matter much. Screen printed table covers are usually created for clients that need exact Pantone color matching for their logos, with one or two colors. It is economical for larger print runs. Screen printing setup is fairly labor intensive, especially for multicolor jobs. There are a number of transfers that have to take place. An image has to be transferred to film then again to the emulsified screen where ink is passed through it leaving the image on the material.

Vivid Photorealistic colors
Maintains soft feel of fabrics
Long washability life
Pantone metallic and fluorescent inks
Prints on any color fabric

Not cost effective for short printing runs
Not the best choice for CMYK 4 color photorealistc process

Best Uses
Cost effective for large 1 or 2 color print runs 
Getting an exact color match for your brand.
Prints color inks for pantone matching
Best for line art and simple designs

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