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DTG Printing Vs Screen Printing

DTG Printing Vs Screen Printing

What is the difference between the two methods?

Both screen printing and direct to garment (DTG) are methods of printing custom designs onto garments and other fabrics. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages. Screen printing is the more traditional technique that involves pushing the ink onto the fabric through a stencil, while direct to garment is a newer method that uses a printer to apply the ink to the shirt.

Screen Printing

Screen printing is a classic method of pushing ink through a woven mesh stencil onto the fabric. This procedure has been used by skilled t-shirt printers for years to produce great looking durable clothing with beautiful colors.

Each color of the design is printed with its own screen. This means your design must first be broken down into different layers by color. Separating the colors typically requires software like Photoshop or Illustrator.

A screen stencil is used to apply a single color of ink, one stencil per color is used in the shirt’s design.

The ink is pulled across the stencil using a squeegee with a rubber blade, producing a single layer of the design with color.

This process means that screen printing is better suited to certain kinds of t-shirt designs. It produces high-quality results and remains very popular today.

Screen printing is a labor-intensive process and can take several hours to prepare and set up one job. This makes printing small quantities (10 or less) cost-prohibitive. As a result, screen printing is more appropriate for larger volumes of t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, and other printed garments. 

DTG Printing

Direct to garment printing, also known as DTG printing, is a technique of digitally printing an image onto cotton t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, and other apparel. DTG is a printing method that sprays ink onto a garment using inkjet technology with commercial inkjet printers. The inks then soak into the fibers of the garment. It’s sort of like printing on paper, except on apparel. Since this is a digital process, the print is sharper and has a higher resolution, or DPI, than traditional printing methods such as screen printing. However, unlike screen printing, there is no long setup or clean-up process, and DTG can print just one single shirt for minimal cost. 

DTG printing doesn’t have a color count, there’s no extra setup time to start printing, so your order is fulfilled as soon as the print file comes through. This is the perfect method to print small quantities. A good example of this would be a short run (10 or less) of spirit wear apparel for your high school.

Because most designs with DTG are printed on-demand (printed after the order is received), it reduces the need for large inventories of printed garments. As a result, most DTG printing companies can carry a much larger selection of high school spirit wear designs.

The original DTG printers had several problems which included print speed, clogging heads and print durability. These were inkjet printers designed to print on paper but were adapted with special water-based inks so they could print on fabrics. Since then, the DTG printers have evolved and become very reliable with excellent print durability. These are industrial printers manufactured specifically for the garment industry. Some manufacturers guarantee five-star washability from the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC). This means a properly cured DTG print can be as good as — if not better than — a properly cured screen-printed design.

Which is better?

Which is better? It all depends on your specific needs. The list below shows the positive attributes of each form of garment printing. You decide.

Screen Printing

  • More Vibrant Colors
  • Slightly more durable
  • Larger orders are more cost-effective

 DTG Printing

  • Sharper print with higher resolution
  • Unlimited colors
  • Small orders are more cost-effective
  • Quick turn around times
  • Increased variety of designs