Direct to Garment or “DTG” printing is exactly like what it sounds like; similar to your inkjet printer at home, only this printer is much larger and instead of paper it is able to print directly on cotton clothing or fabric.
Where screen printing requires a prepared mesh screen for each individual color in your graphic and is limited to a select number of colors; DTG images are printed by this large-format inkjet printer with specially formulated inks that can take nearly any image file and apply it directly onto the garment or fabric. DTG printing requires much less setup than screen printing and provides a faithful reproduction of photographic images in full color and high definition.
When deciding whether DTG or Screen Printing is the best option: consider the type of image you are printing, the amount of colors in that image and the fabric content of the item you are printing. DTG inks print best on 100% cotton garments as the ink adheres to natural fibers easily. The less cotton there is in the garment, the less ink will be able to adhere and will affect the quality of the image and vibrancy of the colors.
NOT ALL DTG PRINTS/PRINTERS ARE CREATED EQUAL! Many customers explain their dislike or aversion to DTG printing because of previous experiences with other printers. We don't cut corners when it comes to DTG printing. We use top quality pretreat, run our printers at optimal print quality settings and use a belt dryer to cure the ink properly so it looks and feels better as well as lasts longer. We also have years of experience when it comes to knowing which graphics will print best on which garments and can guide you for the optimal outcome.
DTG printing on cotton shirts is easiest and allows for photographic images to be replicated on an area up to 16 inches wide and 20 inches tall. When choosing a shirt for DTG printing, the smoother the texture and the tighter the knit of the fabric, the better the print will look. The final result is also highly dependent on the quality of the artwork provided. An image that was created at 300 dpi or higher will print much better than a random graphic taken from the internet.
Sweatshirts can be a tricky substrate for DTG printing since they are rarely 100% cotton. For best results, we suggest printing on a sweatshirt with 100% cotton shell which means the outermost layer is cotton and will allow for the best DTG print possible. There are several blank apparel brands that offer sweatshirts with a cotton shell. As with any fabric, the density of the knit will affect the texture of the print. If the sweatshirt fabric is loosely knit, the final print may show that texture and reveal very small gaps in the overall print. DTG printing also cannot be done over seams, pockets or zippers very easily so the print size will be limited to the garment you're printing on. Most pullover hooded sweatshirts like the one shown below allow for a print area of 10 inches wide by 12 inches tall.
Canvas or denim totes lend themselves to full color DTG printing fairly easily as the natural fibers soak up the DTG ink nicely and allow for images to come out nice and crisp. Print size may be limited based on the tote size and how the handles are sewn. Most standard size tote bags will allow for up to a 10 in wide by 12 inch tall DTG print.