One of the most well-liked methods for printing personalized t-shirts is screen printing, sometimes called DTG (direct-to-garment). There are benefits and drawbacks to each printing technique. DTG printers use tiny dots to produce images with smooth gradients or fade. They are especially good at reproducing fine details. In addition, they can print on a wide range of fabrics, but the best option is 100% cotton.
Due to the need to buy emulsion, mesh screens, and pay for ink, screen printing is more expensive than DTG. However, it can also be cheaper if you are printing a large number of shirts at once.
DTG printers print on various fabrics, including cotton, 50/50 blends, performance, and moisture-wicking fabrics. However, most DTG machines require pre-treating before printing – think of it as a primer for a painting project. The color quality of DTG prints can be inconsistent if the under base needs to be more opaque. While some DTG printers claim to be able to Pantone match, this is only within the gamut. The ability to print on dark materials without dilution and more incredible color vibrancy and richness are benefits of screen printing. Additionally, many screen printers offer specialty inks like glitter, holographic, and shimmer that can elevate the look of your designs. DTG has made some inroads in this area but still needs to be there.
In general, DTG printing is faster than screen printing. The screen-printing process takes time to prepare stencils and screens, which makes it inefficient for small print runs. In contrast, a DTG printer for shirts can process digital files and create one-off prints in minutes. DTG printing is a good choice for rush orders or reprints that require multiple colors. The technology is also ideal for printing complex designs unsuitable for screen printing. Remember that DTG prints might not be as long-lasting as screen prints. DTG machines are more versatile than screen printers but are expensive to operate. There are other costs like ink and pre-treatment in addition to the machine’s cost. These expenses can soon mount up, especially if your image is enormous and has seven or more colors. DTG return-on-investment calculator makes it easy to calculate your costs and determine when you’ll break even—the calculator factors in the cost of pre-treatment and ink and how many shirts you need to produce.
DTG is an excellent option for eco-friendly fashion entrepreneurs. It offers the ability to create designs with unlimited colors and details. It also has a lower production waste than screen printing. Screen printing generates a lot of waste since each color takes numerous screens. DTG printers use water-based inks that are non-hazardous, toxin-free, and biodegradable. In addition to using environmentally-friendly inks, DTG printers are highly efficient. They print on demand, which means that they don’t require any setup time and can produce orders at a rapid pace. This on-demand capability is one of the main reasons that DTG printing has become so famous for print-on-demand clothing stores. Another advantage of DTG is that it eliminates the need for pre-treatment and screen creation. It makes it more economical and faster than screen printing. Plus, it allows you to print a single garment at a time, which is ideal for print-on-demand businesses that rely on small orders and one-off designs.
DTG printers are capable of printing high-quality, complex designs. Unlike screen-printed shirts, they also offer a higher wash rating and can print on dark fabrics. It makes them ideal for small runs and one-off designs. However, they can be expensive to operate. It is because they require the purchase of emulsion and mesh screens, as well as water-based ink. However, screen printing is more economical and practical for more extensive production runs. It is also the finest option for printing on canvas, performance textiles, cotton blends, and poly mixes. However, it could be better for sleeve prints and wraparound designs. DTG printers are more consistent than screen printing but can’t match it for photographic images or gradients. Additionally, the DTG process uses halftones to create a continuous tone, which can result in some minor graininess. The good news is that techniques like diffusion dither can improve the look of halftones.