The battle between these two printing methods has been raging for a while. It is long overdue to bury it by weighing their pros and cons.
An entrepreneur is driven by success, an artist longing to showcase creative flair to the world. Or simply someone who’s finally ready to dip their toes into a more adventurous.
Commonly referred to as ‘Digital Printing,’ DTG is relatively new to apparel printing (around 15 years). Tee Junction was one of the pioneers and the first company worldwide to offer complete DTG printing solutions for custom t-shirts.
Suppose you are looking to design and print! You probably found these terms for custom shirts: DTG printing and screen printing. Both screen printing and direct-to-garment (DTG) are popular and traditional methods for printing custom designs on fabrics. But what is the difference (Screen printing vs. DTG ) between these two methods of printing t-shirts? When should you use one against the other?
The topic can be confusing if you have never printed your custom t-shirts before, so we have compiled this quick guide. We will answer these four most common questions:
- What is the difference?
- What is DTG printing?
- What is screen printing?
- How do they compare?
If you’ve never printed your custom shirts before, follow these best practices and study the different ways shirts produce, whether creating custom t-shirts for a creative project, a fundraising campaign, or another reason. Understanding the printing process will help you make the best decisions possible. Ready to get started?
What is the Difference Between (Screen Printing vs. DTG) DTG and Screen Printing?
Screen printing is the most traditional technique that involves pushing ink onto the fabric through a pattern, while directly on the garment is a more recent method that uses a printer to apply ink on the shirt.
What is Direct Print on the Garment (DTG)?
DTG printing involves using a digital printer to apply ink directly onto the fabric of the clothes you are customizing. This new method of printing t-shirts has gained much popularity in recent years thanks to the technological improvements of DTG printers.
How Does DTG Printing Work?
DTG printing works like an inkjet printer in your home office. The printer translates the digital image or graphic file into your blank t-shirt! DTG printers are large and can handle many projects in many colors. Water-based ink is applied in a single layer and quickly absorbed into the fibers of the jacket. The DTG printing method is accurate and produces high-quality results; the ink is not immersed deeply in the fabric. As with other techniques, such as screen printing.
What type of design works best with DTG shirts?
- T-shirts with particularly elaborate designs with tons of different colors
- Small batches of custom shirts (10 shirts and less)
It makes DTG printed shirts excellent for individual creative projects, uniforms for small-scale events, or personalized thank-you gifts.
What is screen printing?
Screen printing is the classic and proven method of pushing ink through a woven mesh stencil over the fabric. It is a profession that expert printers have perfected over the years to produce beautiful and resistant garments.
As a more laborious process, screen printing produces beautifully saturated colors and a distinctive and authentic appearance. Screen-printed shirts are a classic and economical option.
How Does Screen Printing Work?
Screen printing involves pushing the ink through a woven mesh template on the fabric. Each color used in the design is printed separately with its screen.
Your design must first divide into several layers by color. It was done by design software such as Photoshop or Illustrator usually. Next, use a template for braided screens. Apply only one color of ink at a time, a template for the color used in the shirt design.
The ink is extracted through the template using a knife or foam tool, producing a single layer of the design with full and saturated color. This process means that screen printing is better suited to certain types of t-shirt designs.
However, it produces high-quality results that have remained extremely popular among consumers for decades.
What kind of design works best on screen-printed shirts?
- Eye-catching graphics or typographic t-shirt design
- Designs with a few different colors Large batches of custom shirts (more than 10 shirts)
That makes custom screen-printed shirts a wiser choice to collect more considerable funds for events, like 5K or a fundraising campaign for mission trips.
How Do You Compare DTG Shirts and Screen-Printed Shirts?
Because these t-shirt printing methods are very different, of course, each has pros and cons. Depending on the details of the custom printing project, one will probably be a better option than the other.
The significant differences to consider when choosing a method fall into two general categories: design and costs.
Differences Between Screen-Printed and DTG Designs | Screen Printing vs. DTG
If produced by a professional using the right equipment, any printing process will result in a high-quality t-shirt. However, there are still some significant differences depending on the design.DTG printing comes with leaving just a single layer of ink to create your final design, but on the other hand, screen printing produces several layers. That has some significant effects, particularly on how you use color in your design: screen printing will create a vibrant and durable design with more saturated colors than the DTG process.
However, the intense process of converting the design into multiple models limits the number of colors used. DTG printing produces a slightly faded design with a single layer of ink, but without limits on the number of colors used. However, some limitations make certain color combinations difficult.
For example, it can be difficult for digital printers (heat press machines) to create light-colored ink drawings on dark fabrics. So some types of t-shirt designs are more suitable for each method.
The simplest and most stylized designs with graphics or text in a handful of colors are excellent for screen printing. In contrast, DTG printing can handle more elaborate designs in multiple colors, usually in light-colored fabrics.
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Screen Printing vs. DTG: Difference Between DTG Costs and Screen Printing Costs
The fundamental differences between each process also translate into differences in final costs. Again, both may be a good option, but it depends entirely on the details of the project. That is how they accumulate:
Screen printing costs
Screen printing is more convenient for large batches of shirts. The template process means installation costs are slightly higher, making screen printing for large design orders more efficient.
Using a more significant amount of colors than recommended slows down the process, increasing final prices since each color used requires the creation of a template for the screen.
But with screen printing, there are usually cost savings when printing more shirts. Having master templates for each layer simplifies the process as it prints more shirts.
DTG Printing Costs
DTG printing is the most convenient for small batches of custom shirts. The amount of colors used will not seriously affect the final price. However, large batches will use more ink and time. It is also that the printer can only handle one shirt at a time, resulting in higher prices.
DTG printing generally does not offer massive savings, as with screen printing. The scope of your custom t-shirt printing project is considered when choosing a printing service to manage it.
Some custom clothing services offer one or the other, while others provide screen and DTG printing options depending on the project size. If you choose a DTG-only service, the cost per shirt does not decrease when you buy more, while in general, you pay less per shirt as the amounts increase during screen printing.
Finding a personalized t-shirt printing service that offers the best techniques (DTG and more traditional screen printing) will give you the best long-term value.
Understanding the differences between the two methods will help you better determine what you need from a partner by starting with your custom t-shirt project!
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