Direct to Garment printing – what you need to know
Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing uses a highly modified inkjet printer to apply garment inks which are heat set with a tunnel dryer. As with any t-shirt printing process, there are pros and cons to using each process – you might want to take a look at our in depth guide to screen printing to find out more about the main alternative to DTG.
Keep in mind our project co-ordinators will always make sure to recommend the best process for your job, and this list is simply to make you aware of some of the advantages and disadvantages of this method. For more tips and tricks, check out our guides to designing a uniform, creating restaurant merch and charity fundraising with t-shirts.
Pros of DTG printing
- Quick turnaround time compared to screen printing
- No setup costs; making this a good option for low volume runs (up to 100)
- Good option for designs that require a number of different colours
- Best for accurately reproducing full-colour photographs
- Does not require artwork to be layer/colour separated or vector format
Cons of DTG printing
- A ‘pre-treatment’ or ‘underbase layer’ is applied to dark and coloured garments, creating a base layer and allowing the design to sit on top. Next, they are heat pressed to flatten fibres, and then cured in a small tunnel heater after printing.
- Sometimes the pre-treatment can react to the garment and can leave quite an obvious staining (as seen above, the “square” around the artwork). We aren’t able to know that this will happen until we have applied the pre-treatment and wait for a reaction.
- Prints onto dark and coloured garments can appear less vibrant and/or grainy
- We’re unable to match to exact Pantone (PMS) Colour Codes; meaning your print may come out a slightly different colour than you are expecting or that we can achieve with screen printing.
- Polyester garments or sports shirts cannot be printed using this process due to the low cotton content, we suggest least 80% cotton.
Want to learn more about the t-shirt printing process?
If you’ve found this guide useful and want to learn more about the t-shirt printing process and how to get the most out a printing job, have a read through some of our expert guides, covering everything from screen-printing to branding, from in-depth features to quick tips and tricks. Here’s a selection of some our favourites:
- Screen printing explained: What is it? How does it work? When to use it?
- DTG printing explained: What is it? How does it work? When to use it?
- Best t-shirt design software
- Photoshop vs Illustrator for t-shirt design
- Tips for designing promotional tote bags
- Choosing a font for your logo or t-shirt design
- How to design a uniform
- How streetwear brands generate hype
- Color pyschology: a guide to color in design and branding
- T-shirt printing in London – how to get fast turnaround merch