When it comes to printing on garments, two methods stand out: direct-to-garment (DTG) and traditional screen printing. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The best option is not always straightforward and depends on your specific artwork and the type of garment you're printing on.
Choosing the best option is not always straightforward and depends on your artwork and the type of garment you're printing on.
Ideal for photographic images and graphics with many colors, DTG printers can reproduce a wide range of colors and gradients, similar to a traditional inkjet printer. However, spot colors may be better suited for screen printing, as long as the minimum order quantities can be met.
DTG printing is ideal for photographic images and graphics with many colors, as it can reproduce a wide range of colors and gradients.
Quantities over 100 pieces of DTG-printed garments may start to be cost-prohibitive, as ink costs usually plateau at that quantity compared to screen printing. Screen printing costs are mostly in the setup and can be spread throughout larger quantities. Making screen printing a more cost-effective option for large production runs. Ultimately, the decision between overall cost or a faithful recreation of the digital graphic will factor into selecting what printing method to use.
Screen printing may be a more cost-effective option for large production runs.
When printing DTG on dark garments, a pre-treatment solution needs to be applied and dried to prevent white ink from soaking into the fabric. However, this solution may affect certain dyes, resulting in discoloration around the printed image, especially on blended fabrics containing less cotton or garment and pigment-dyed fabrics.
The garment's texture also affects the clarity of the printed image, with smoother and more tightly woven cotton producing crisper images. We’ve found that blanks apparel from Cotton Heritage, Comfort Colors, AS Colour, JHK, Smart Blanks, and Los Angeles Apparel are some of the brands that result in better-than-average DTG prints.
The garment's texture also affects the clarity of the printed image, with smoother and more tightly woven cotton producing crisper images.
Better suited for spot colors and provides more consistency in the printed graphic across an entire batch. DTG prints can be affected by dyes and fabric treatments, which can cause the final results to vary. Screen printing is generally more cost-effective for larger quantities. Larger production runs may warrant the color separation of some artwork into halftoned layers that, when printed over each other, can trick your eye into seeing more color variations than the number of inks used. This can be an effective way to reduce costs for larger production runs.
Both screen and DTG printing are meant to be permanent decorations if printed and cured correctly. Each will last as long as the garment is properly cared for. There isn’t one that lasts longer than the other.
If printed properly, DTG on a dark garment can feel very similar to screen printing. DTG printing requires less layering of ink to reduce the print's weight and texture. DTG prints on white or light-colored garments do not require an underbase of white ink, resulting in a much lighter print than a screen print. However, a DTG print on a white garment will not be as vibrant as a screen print since the ink on a screen print sits on top of the garment rather than being absorbed into the fabric.
At Print Renegades, we will always do our best to guide you in the right direction based on your project's needs and provide you with the pros and cons of each printing method based on your specific design.