Direct to Garment Printing
Direct to garment (DTG) printing is capable of reproducing high quality, full colour prints onto dark or light coloured fabrics and textiles but works best on 100% ringspun cotton. Ink is applied directly to the target fabric using a special printer and the finished product is considered to be of a very high quality for both softness and flexibility.
This method of garment printing is most suited to low order quantities or short runs of photo-quality prints as there are no setup costs involved as there is with traditional screen printing. Turn around times can be much faster as the artwork is taken straight to the printer and printed onto the garment.
DTG printing process
Raster image processing
DTG uses software called RIP (Raster Image Processing) to allow the computer to send its image through to the printer complete with any additional requirements that a standard print may not have, such as laying a white base for dark shirts. RIP software also has multiple colour profiles available allowing for fine grained control over the quality of the image output.
InkJet textile inks
Also known by its acronym of DTG, direct to garment printing utilises digital inkjet printing equipment that is specially made to work with DTG inks. These inks (InkJet Textile Inks) are applied directly to the target fabric, upon which they are absorbed into the fibres giving clear & vibrant colours with highly refined definition.
Due to the cost of the equipment, the consumables used during the printing and the (usually) lower garment quantity ordered, D2G printing is a little more expensive than other techniques used to produce customised fabrics, clothing or textiles. This cost is, however, easily outweighed by the speed that you can have a fully finished product and the quality of the image produced.
Pros and cons
There are several pros and cons associated with the direct to garment process. DTG garments can be less durable than their screen printed cousins although they should be able to withstand washes at 40 degrees centigrade, Dry cleaning and low temperature tumble drying.
Best use of Direct to Garment printing
- When you require VERY low order quantities or for one offs
- If you require a complex design or photo quality imagery on your clothing
- When you desire a fine finish on your printed clothing
What Direct to Garment is Not for
- Large runs of garments (Over 10 garments would be considered a long run for DTG)
- Single colours (Screen Printing or Vinyl Transfer would be much better suited for this)
- Unusual print targets such as Caps, Bags etc