Screen printing or DTG – what to choose?

October 10th, 2018 / Prints on clothing

In Turdus, in addition to producing original graphics, we also deal with prints on clothing using screen printing technique. However, since this is not the only available method of decorating fabrics, we decided to compare different techniques in a short series of articles. We start the cycle with a silk-screen combination with the second most popular method, known as DTG.

DTG – what is this all about?

DTG (short for Direct To Garment) is a direct printing technique. It involves transferring graphics directly from a special printer onto a t-shirt / bag, etc. The plotter – printer used for printing – uses the dedicated paint to apply the desired image or inscription to the fabric. Then, to harden the paint, the print should be basked in a special press. In this process, thermal transfer presses work well. It’s just about joining paint and fabric.

Unlike the screen printing that we use in Turdus,  preparation just before printing is totally different thing. While for screen printing it is necessary to make screens, by means of which the print will be transferred to textiles, in DTG the preparation process is limited only to the processing of digital graphics – after saving the ready graphics we can start printing immediately.

girl t-shirt Turdus Concept

What are the advantages of DTG? First of all, we can make individual pieces of clothing, and thus produce short, unique series. This technique is especially recommended when producing a small number of pieces. In screen printing, the more complex the graphics (requiring many separate colors), the greater the cost of a single shirt. Of course, with graphics using one or two colors, this is not a significant difference in price, and photo prints are possible using colors from the CMYK palette, but in terms of the profitability of a single piece, DTG wins (taking into account only the cost of production and workload).

When it comes to DTG durability, sentences are divided. Only a few years ago, the quality of DTG digital printing left much to be desired – the prints were able to crumble and the colors went down after 2-3 washes. Today, the quality of paints is much better, and thus the life of DTG t-shirts is lengthened. However, we do not have best experience with DTG. T-shirts that we had the opportunity to test – coming from several different sources – after the first wash had clearly paler colors. After several washes, you could see a significant difference in the appearance and condition of prints before and after long-term use.

There were also differences in the appearance of the same prints in new copies: when ordering several pieces of the same pattern, there was a discrepancy between the colors on individual pieces of clothing. In addition, DTG prints can only be made on cotton textiles, which disqualifies this method for certain orders.

Of course, I also met with the most positive experiences with DTG, that the prints are very durable and colors faithfully reproduced, and the problem with durability results from insufficient mastery of the technique itself. Prints should be properly warmed, and when using textiles remember to wash on the left side and at fairly low temperatures.

whatever t-shirt Turdus Concept

Textiles printed using screen printing are “for years”. Due to the quality and lifetime of the print, they definitely dominate the DTG. It is more likely that the t-shirt / bag itself will be damaged than the print will be damaged or the colors will fade. In this method, the paint is welded at a high temperature with fibers, creating a flexible coating resistant to washing and stretching.

Production process

Of course, in screen printing, as in the case of DTG, durability and quality are determined by the degree of mastery of the printing technique and proper preparation. This method, due to the need to perform sieves, their proper firing and the printing process itself, is not the simplest, but the effect is worth the effort.

The cost of equipment is an undeniable downside of DTG and an obstacle from the point of view of a clothing manufacturer. While the screen printing can be done with minimal initial expenditure (more about the preparation and production process you read in this post), investing a relatively small amount only in paint and semi-finished products, thinking about DTG we need to get a printer. Such equipment – depending on the model and whether we want a new or used device – costs from 1 – 2 thousand (used) up to 10.000 dollars . For small companies and people who want to start their adventure with the production of original clothing it is an unstoppable barrier.

In summary, DTG is an excellent method, if you need to purchase / produce small quantities of clothing with personalized prints, your series is limited to a few dozen or so pieces. Then the cost, especially with multi-colored prints, will not be high. DTG can also be used for simple designs printed on advertising articles, which will be used, for example, once during an event.

Screen printing in situations where you are interested in larger quantities of clothing and you care about durability. The unit cost decreases with each subsequent t-shirt – sieves are made once and with a circulation of over 100 pieces, the price for printing the next copy is really low. This applies to both simple prints, using one, two, three colors, as well as with more complex full-color orders. In addition, prints can be made on textiles not only cotton – T-shirts made of elastic materials, unique posters, etc. Possibilities are really many.

If you are interested in this article and would like more information about the screen printing, please contact us using the contact form available here. I also invite you to follow our social media – links in the footer. See you next week!