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DTG vs Screen Printing: A Comparison

Published on 12th February, 2021

When it comes to printing on garments, direct to garment (DTG) vs screen printing is an age-old battle. Which one is better? Which one is more suited to your product types? What’s better for your production output? There are a lot of questions around the matter – which sparks quite the debate. 

As business owners and designers, you can easily find yourself stuck in the rut of wanting your designs to look as best as they can. However, not wanting to break the bank and aiming for maximum profit on each garment sold. So, you must pick the correct printing technique to allow you to strike a fine balance between these factors. 

In this post, we’ll take a look at DTG vs screen printing and will work out which one is best suited for your business to utilise. We’ll take a look at everything you need to know – from what they are, how they differ, how they work and we’ll provide recommendations along the way too. 

So, sit back and soak in the latest showdown of DTG vs screen printing.

 

We’ll cover:

 

What is DTG? And How is it Best Used?

DTG is a popular printing method that’s used to create stand-out, colourful designs. But what is it? Well, as the name suggests, direct to garment printing is a method in which ink is applied directly to the garment and then pressed to dry. It’s one of the simplest forms of garment printing – however, when done properly, it’s easily one of the most effective. 

So, how does it work? Well, the process couldn’t be much easier. Think of an everyday printer – only instead of paper, you’re using t-shirts and other suitable garment materials. DTG works best with materials that are 100 percent cotton, naturally, the most common products are t-shirts and sweatshirts. If you don’t use the right material, the results won’t be as desired. 

 

DTG vs Screen Printing direct to garment

 

All garments must be pre-treated with a special treatment liquid before printing – this ensures that each print is top quality and your products always obtain a high standard. For darker colours, you need to add another step of treatment before printing – so that the garment is ready to allow the ink to soak into the fibres and take to the product well.

After pre-treatment, load it flat into the machine and hit go! From there, you can watch your design unfold in front of your eyes. For best results, make sure that the garments are flat – one crease can jeopardise the whole print. Once your garment has finished printing, press it for 90 seconds to dry and you’re good to go.  

 

The Key Benefits of DTG 

Ease of Setup 

As you can see from the outlined process above, DTG requires very little setup and produces amazing results. Due to the lack of setup required, it means that businesses can promise quick turnaround times and can welcome any one-off jobs required. This makes them a lot more appealing to customers who want their products instantly and aren’t prepared to wait. 

Ease of setup means that it’s easy to roll out within your business too. For example, you can easily train all your team members to be able to carry out DTG printing. That way, you’re not reliant on certain staff members being on-site for DTG production to be carried out. If all team members can perform it, your productivity will go through the roof. 

 

Unrivalled Quality of Intricate Design

With other printing methods, there’s a comprehensive lack of quality on intricate and finicky designs. Whereas, one of the main USPs of DTG is that it can easily perform detailed designs and make your products stand out. For businesses, this is a massive draw towards DTG as you want your designs to stand out no matter what, right? 

You don’t want to be renowned as the brand with poor quality designs, do you? Therefore, businesses opt for DTG as they know that the results it can produce are eye-catching – and most importantly, top quality. For example, businesses choose to have their uniforms produced by DTG as they can rely on the quality of print to portray their brand proudly. 

 

What is Screen Printing? When is it Used Best?

Whereas DTG applies ink straight onto the garment, screen printing is a printing method in which ink is pushed through a woven screen or mesh stencil onto the garment. Rather than soaking straight into the garment, the ink sits in a layer on top of the garment. Screen printing is one of the most popular methods in garment design and has been around for many years. 

For each colour that you want to add to your design, a special screen is required. Therefore, adding to the setup and cost of production. Once you’ve got all your screens ready to go, the design is applied layer by layer. The more colours that your design has, the longer it’ll take to produce. For example, four colours will require four layers – one colour would only need one. 

 

DTG vs Screen Printing - Screen Printing

 

As DTG focuses on small details, screen printing focuses on the adverse. This printing method works best with solid graphics and broad details. Typography, basic shapes and ore can be produced with screen printing. However, intricate designs are more expensive and are very time consuming due to the need to specially produce each screen for the design.

As each colour is applied separately, you can expect to see no more than nine colours in a design. Any more than this would cause production times to skyrocket and cost too. Screen printing is not the most cost-effective design method – a lot of time and effort needs to go in to produce the print, therefore, providers don’t run many small quantity jobs. 

 

The Key Drawbacks of Screen Printing

You might think that we’re being a little biased to DTG by focusing on the drawbacks of screen printing – however, other than the capability of producing bulk orders, we don’t see any area in which it outperforms DTG. 

 

Lack of Detail 

When opting for screen printing, you’re limited in what you can produce. With your designs, ideally, you want to be able to freely express yourself without limitation, don’t you? Whereas, screen printing limits you to nine colours and is only effective for a handful of design types. So, if you’ve produced an intricate design, screen printing isn’t the method to opt for.

It’s simply too much time, effort and cost to produce the stencils required for detailed designs – which is why businesses only use it for bulk orders. Otherwise, the time spent on each job would mean that they would actually make a loss on small orders. Of course, this isn’t a sustainable way to run a business and you wouldn’t last very long at all. 

 

Minimum Orders Required

Due to the drawn-out setup process, a lot of businesses will require you to place minimum orders when utilising screen printing. The more prints that they can get out of a run, the more money that they’re making and the more cost-effective it is for them. If all you’re after is a sole print or a handful of shirts printing, screen printing definitely isn’t the way to go. 

If you’re a business and are looking to get your latest product range printed, you’re going to need a lot of stock, right? Screen printing could be well suited to this, however, we urge you to be confident that all of your stock numbers will sell out. Otherwise, you’ll be left with unwanted stock and ultimately, dented profit margins. 

 

DTG vs Screen Printing: Our Verdict

When choosing the printing method for your ideas, you must choose wisely. Otherwise, you could end up costing your business a lot more than you need to. So, which one is best suited to your product requirements? Both printing methods are effective in their own rights. 

However, we have one clear winner of DTG vs screen printing. Drum roll, please…

Direct to Garment takes it for us. Other than the capability to produce bulk orders easier, there aren’t any ways in which screen printing outweighs DTG. Whereas, DTG is capable of producing high-quality detailed designs that are certain to wow your customers! Stand out from the crowd and make your most creative designs come to life. 

Plus, it’s easy to set up and therefore commands a much less production cost than screen printing does. With that in mind, businesses can make a higher profit margin on products that are produced with DTG printing. Customers want speed and quality – and with DTG, that’s exactly what you get, every time!

 

Equip Yourselves Properly for DTG Production

As we’ve established, DTG is a popular and effective printing method. However, you need to have the right equipment to carry it out properly. Without the correct machines, your designs will be lacklustre and you won’t replicate the desired effect. So, having the right machine to produce DTG printed garments is massively important. 

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’ve created a FREE guide that expands on everything you need to know about DTG. From further insight into what it is, what can be produced and the machines that you need to produce it properly, it’s all in there for you to benefit from. Grab your copy today!