Direct to garment printing is one of the trendiest way to print designs on custom products. Direct to garment (DTG), as the name refers, is a garment printing method in which images are printed directly onto pre-sewn T-shirts, hoodies, hats, children’s and baby clothes, tote bags, shoes, throw pillow covers, and other fabric products.

In this blog, we look closely at direct to garment printing – its pros and cons, how does it work, and which is the best fabric to print on with DTG

How Does Direct to Garment Printing Work

Using inkjet technology, a special kind of printer is used in direct to garment printing to utilize water-based ink directly to the fabric of your product. The fabric absorbs this water-based ink to produce your unique design or logo. Only cotton fibers can absorb ink. Hence, DTG printing is only possible on clothes made entirely of cotton.

Direct to Garment Printing Process:

To learn direct to garment printing, follow the below-described step-by-step process.

Prepare the Digital Design:  Direct to garment printing starts at the computer. To get the best prints on your garments from a DTG, the artwork must be nice and clean. The general rule of direct to garment printing is that if the image looks nice printed at the size you will be printing it when printed on your desktop inkjet printer, then the image will ultimately look good on a garment or a t-shirt.

Pretreat the Garment to Print with DTG:

Pretreatment is like adding a primer to your fabric before you print it. It helps the ink adhere better to the garment, as well as to things like jeans, canvas, denim, and more. You can also print without pretreatment, but it negatively impacts the color of the print and wash ability.

Print on the Garment:

Now, after the pre-treatment, put the garment in the DTG printer and start the digital printing. Aside from white, all clothing has a white under base applied before anything else. It’s done to make the finished print more vibrant. Immediately after the under base is printed, the DTG printer adds the remaining colors after printing the bottom base. It uses a mixture of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, just like an inkjet printer

Cure the Ink on Garment:

The final and last step is to cure the ink, place your newly printed garment back on the heat press, or run it through a forced air dryer of your choice. This will ensure that your ink is permanently adhered to your clothing and will last through several washings.

What are the Best Fabrics for Direct to Garment Printing

DTG is incredibly convenient for creating apparel with detailed, complex designs in various colors. In addition, direct to garment printing works on different garments, from shirts to hats and everything in between.

But remember that the fabric used for DTG printing matters a lot. Some fabrics provide better results than others. Thus, if you plan to create some printed apparel, here is the best fabrics guide for DTG.

Best Fabrics for DTG Printers:

  • Cotton: Cotton plants produce fibers that are spun into yarn and refined for clothing.
  • Polyester: Polyester is the best synthetic fabric for direct to garment printing. Getting a complex image in various colors to print relatively well on polyester is possible.
  • Linen: Linen is highly absorbent and easily takes on printed designs, but it may not be the best choice for casual clothing because it wrinkles easily.
  • Natural Fabrics: Natural fabrics are the best for DTG printing. This is because natural fibers absorb water, and since DTG ink is water-based, the design will adhere to the cloth more readily.
  • Synthetic Fabrics: Man-made textiles are synthetic textiles. Most synthetic textiles don’t absorb moisture; instead, they reject it, making them unsuitable for DTG printing. However, these textiles can still be printed on, although the results might not be as clear.
  • Cotton/Polyester: Polyester and cotton are one of the most popular fabric combinations of natural and synthetic materials. This fabric, often known as cotton/poly blend, works well for DTG

Direct to Garment Printing Pros & Cons

It’s not surprising that DTG has arisen as the favored option among businesspeople, artists, and other creatives when it comes to printing for profit. However, let’s examine some DTG advantages and disadvantages first to get the whole picture and better understand it.

Pros of DTG Printing:

  • Environmental Friendly: Today’s technology has covered how to use environmentally-friendly inks, which are highly energy-efficient.
  • High-detail image quality and unlimited colors: The quality of DTG prints is outstanding. This technique can reproduce complex color patterns using the entire color spectrum, producing very detailed images of high caliber.
  • No Minimum Order Quantity: You can order as few or as many products as you want when using DTG printing. DTG printers provide an affordable option to print items as needed.

Pros of DTG Printing:

  • Limited Application Surfaces: DTG print surfaces may be restrained compared to sublimation printing, which permits all-over prints. As a result, a lot more manual setup is necessary for additional print areas.
  • DTG is Not Optimal for Bulk Orders: DTG printing takes longer than other types of printing. However, the upside is that you can simply print a few shirts and still turn a profit, making it perfect for Print on Demand and e-commerce enterprises.
  • Typically, It Doesn’t Work on All Types of Fabrics: The amount of cotton in the clothes used for DTG printing should be at least 50%, depending on the DTG machine, to help with absorption and improve quality.

DTG Comparison to Other Printing Techniques

Screen Printing VS Direct to Garment:

The setup for screen printing is costly and labor-intensive, but the setup for DTG is nonexistent. Because the expense is not spread out over a large number of garments, direct to garment printing is more cost-effective for “small” orders (less than about ten of a given garment). However, after setup is finished, screen printing is substantially less expensive per unit than DTG, making it more economical for larger quantities.

Although DTG can capture more detail and colors than screen printing, the screen-printed colors are more vivid. Moreover, screen printing enables more ink varieties, including metallic ink, and it may be applied to polyester textiles, which DTG inks cannot adhere to. However, DTG can print polyester when combined with cotton, for example, 30% polyester and 70% cotton.

Heat Transfer VS Direct to Garment:

DTG connects directly to a material’s fibers and lacks a heat component, whereas heat transfers embedded ink into the surface of the garment’s material using heat and pressure. Therefore, compared to heat transfers, DTG printing offers far better print quality.

Dye Sublimation VS Direct to Garment:

Both convert digital images from a computer onto a garment. The primary distinction is that dye sublimation bypasses the liquid phase that DTG is finished in by using heat to transfer ink directly from a solid to a gas.

Final Words

In conclusion, direct to garment printing technique persists in being the best in the field of on-demand production. Direct to garment offers a hassle-free method of quickly producing unique products for your consumers if you’re just starting a business. Due to its many advantages, it is the preferred printing technique for print-on-demand business owners of all levels.