What do ChicoBag Products, Bob Ross, and Tattoos Have in Common?

July 01, 2021 3 min read

What do ChicoBag Products, Bob Ross, and Tattoos Have in Common?

Pull out your ink pens and brush up on your happy little trees, because ChicoBag art class is now in session. We’ve been getting a lot of questions recently about how designs are printed on our bags, masks, and utensil sets, so we’re here with a little Design 101:

ChicoBag offers two options for custom designs and logos: dye sublimation and screenprinting.

What is dye sublimation?

Dye Sublimation uses CMYK digital printing and water-based inks, along with a combination of heat and pressure, to permanently dye your artwork into the fabric. We have it down to a fine art: kind of like a permanent tattoo using science.

How it works

The bag design is applied to a special paper, which is pressed into the fabric through a process called sublimation. In this process, the application of heat and pressure turns the dye into a gas, which is then permanently infused into the fabric creating a lasting message. The pressing can be done on the fabric before it is cut and sewn, or applied to individual products, depending on the results you want.

What is screenprinting?

Screen printing applies Pantone color-matched inks to the top of pre-dyed fabrics, providing excellent contrast and detail. The colors are extremely bright and colorful, with zero transparency. Think paint on a blank canvas, minus the perm.

How it works

To get the design on the bag or utensil set, the fabric is laid out on a table, and a stencil (or screen) centered on top. Ink is then spread across the stencil, drying between each new color application. The ink is then cured to the fabric with heat for longevity and quality.

Which one should you use?

It’s like Chunky Monkey or Phish Food, teal v. aqua: how do you decide? The answer is in what’s fulfilling the craving--or your print orders. The easiest way to think about it is in terms of color.

If your logo/design...

Has a bajillion colors:

  • Dye sublimation allows you to print photos, gradients, and complex artwork (think Bob Ross on a bag)

Is bright white on a dark background:

  • Screenprinting allows you to print opaque shades with no see-through. Dye sublimation will produce a more transparent design.

Has to follow very specific Pantone brand guidelines

  • Screenprinting can match your exact color!

What about the bag itself?

With dye sublimation, we have the option to print the whole roll of fabric with a design (like wallpaper). You have options on where your logo goes. With screenprinting, you’ll need to choose a solid-color bag and a set placement for the design.

Timing

As you may have read in our blogabout shipping and its carbon footprint, we’re big fans of planning ahead and getting your order in as much in advance as possible so you can ship via ocean freight and reduce your carbon emissions. Different products and printing capabilities are available at various timelines, so let us know what you’re looking for.

Price

While dye sublimation can be more expensive than screen printing for simple artwork (such as   a one-color logo on a solid bag), the design will last significantly longer than the same design applied through screen printing. Think about it this way: if your bag or utensils serve as an advertisement for your company, you want as many eyeballs on them as possible. The longer the product lasts and the design is visible, the more people will see it over time. In general, you’ll get a much better return on your investment by choosing dye submlimatinon v. screen printing, as the cost per impression will go down with every day the product lasts--despite it starting at a higher price point.

Longevity

The best way to describe the difference between the two is probably back to our good old tattoo analogy. Dye sublimation is like a permanent tattoo by  George Burchett, made even better because it will never fade or turn a weird navy color over time.

So, big picture: screenprinting v. dye sublimation. Both are great options with quality results, and while it may be tough to choose which one at first--isn’t it awesome to have two great options?