dtg screen printing

DTG Printing vs. Screen Printing – What’s the Difference?

Direct to Garment Printing (DTG) and screen printing are two different methods that can be used to print on to t-shirts and other articles of clothing. Both methods of printing have their pros and cons, but if you’re looking to print graphics, logos, or designs on to any sort of apparel, there’s a good chance your printing company will be using one of these methods. While both methods of printing will produce stellar results for your event or team there are times when you will want to choose one of the other. Let’s take a look at the differences between DTG printing and screen printing.

What is DTG Printing (Direct to Garment)?

DTG printing is essentially a printer, similar to the one you have on your desk or at your office, but instead of printing on to paper it can print on to fabric and textiles. These printers can be small and easy to use when compared to something like a screening setup. This allows for high quality prints without the need for expensive setups, manual ink pressing processes, and large print runs to make it worth it. DTG printing requires the client to upload their image to a computer, resize and layout as necessary and then hit print. That’s all there is to it. The inks used in these direct to garment printers are specially designed to be high quality, durable, and vivid, giving you the best possible outcome when printing on to your apparel.

What is Screen Printing?

While direct to garment printing has only been around for about 20 years, screen printing was developed in China between 960-1279 AD. Screen printing involves pushing ink through a mesh stencil which then transfers that ink on to the shirt or textile of your choosing. One of the unique things about screen printing is that it’s mostly a manual process and requires a lot more setup and preparation than DTG printing. In fact, you can only print one color at a time with screen printing, which means it can take a lot longer to transfer one design to your shirt than with DTG.

Benefits of DTG Printing Over Screen Printing

Depending on how many items you need printed, the design, and what your budget is, both DTG and screen printing have their pros and cons. If you don’t need a large run of shirts printed out, then DTG is probably the way to go. Screen printing requires an initial setup fee to create the stencils needed for the designs, and this can add to the overall cost. In fact, because of the more involved setup for screen printing, most places often have a minimum order size that you will need to pay for to use this method. With DTG printing, there is no need for stencils which means that if you’re looking for a smaller number of shirts, this method will be the most cost-effective way to print. The stencils can also limit the designs that can be printed using the screen-printing method whereas direct to garment printing is only limited by your imagination. As long as you can create it in the computer, it can be printed on a shirt using DTG. And while DTG may be cheaper overall, you will not suffer on quality. The inks and printers used in direct to garment printing are top of the line and can produce high quality transfers that will look just as good as anything you purchase at a store. The designs will not easily chip or fade, and you’ll be able to enjoy your shirt after many cycles through the washing machine. As technology continues to advance in the world of textile printing, DTG will continue to push the limits of what can be done with t-shirt printing.

Why Would Someone Choose Screen Printing Over DTG?

Knowing that DTG is of high quality and cost-effective when it comes to printing on t-shirts, why would anyone want to use the old screen-printing method? While screen-printing is limited to more simplistic designs, the real benefits come with larger orders. Direct to garment printing is great for smaller runs of 15-25 shirts, but if you need a very large amount of t-shirts printed for an event or gathering, screen-printing is going to be more cost effective. Oftentimes you will get a discount by ordering more shirts and this discount will offset any initial setup costs associated with screen-printing. And since screen-printing can be cheaper overall, you’ll often come out ahead in terms of pricing for large orders.

Which Printing Method Should I Choose?

As with anything, it really depends on what your design is and how many items you need printed. The quality of both direct to garment printing and screen printing are going to be high enough quality that you won’t notice the difference, but if you need more complicated designs printed then DTG is the way to go. If you have more simplistic designs and need a lot of items printed for an event or gathering, then screen-printing will most likely save you money over time. The other thing you need to be aware of is when do you need these items printed by. DTG tends to be faster than screen printing for small orders, but larger orders can still take some time. And screen printing is mostly a manual process, so it can take a bit longer for your items to be printed. Both printing methods are great in most situations, but if you have any questions, or would like a quote, please contact us today!
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