There are many, many ways to put a design on a t-shirt. Which way is “correct” depends on a variety of factors: budget, quantity, number of colors, material, print location, and much more. Part of what we do at Evan Webster Ink is figure out the best option for you. Today we’ll talk about direct-to-garment printing versus screen printing.
Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing is one of the newest (circa 2000 AD) technologies in the “apparel decoration industry”. Screen printing is one of the oldest (circa 900 AD). DTG is pretty amazing … the machine is a (highly) modified inkjet printer which uses ink made specifically for fiber and “spools” the t-shirt through the printer instead of a piece of paper. Check out this video to get an idea of how it works.
As you can see, pretty amazing. Good DTG printers cost six figures and can print white ink on dark apparel (a notoriously difficult thing to do).
So how does DTG printing compare to screen printing? It’s better for:
- Low volume orders (under 12 pieces) because there’s a much shorter set-up time. (Check out this post about screen printing apparel samples, which mentions that DTG is a good way to get a sample and avoiding the high cost of screen printing a single item)
- Full color printing (like printing a color photograph on a t-shirt) because it has print cartridges which can print full color as easily as a single color. In screen printing, you have to make a separate screen for each color of ink.