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Question: Is DTG Printing Better Than Screen Printing?

Style & Design Tips

Question: Is DTG Printing Better Than Screen Printing?

The development of technology has enabled apparel printing to be faster and more efficient with many modern printing methods. One of those is Direct-to-garment printing (DTG printing). It is a new and favorite method of printing due to some good benefits it can bring.

However, many people have questioned whether this method is better than the traditional printing method - Screen printing and which one they should choose. 

If you are having the same question, this post is absolutely for you. 

Is DTG Printing Better Than Screen Printing? (Source: Splashjet)

Before coming to the comparison, we will briefly explain the definitions of each printing method and how they work.

DTG Printing

DTG printing’s definition 

Direct-to-garment printing means a printing method in which ink is directly applied to the garment and then pressed to dry. With this method, the whole process of printing is conducted by a digital printer. 

In recent years, there are many technical improvements in DTG printers, which makes this method gain popularity and become the favorite.

DTG Printing (Source: Amaya sales UK)

How DTG printing works 

DTG printing works in a similar way as your inkjet printer does at your home or office. It means The DTG printer converts the digital images onto your blank tee. 

DTG printers can handle many kinds of designs in various colors. This printer uses water-based ink which is applied in a single layer. Then, the ink will quickly absorb into the shirt’s fibers. 

Screen printing

Screen printing’s definition

Different from DTG printing which directly applies ink onto the garment, screen printing means that the ink is pushed through a woven screen or mesh stencil onto the garment. So, in this case, the ink will be on the top layer of the printed garment. Screen printing is a classic and popular garment printing technique and has been around for many years. 

Screen printing (Source: Business plan)

How screen printing works

As mentioned above, in screen printing, ink is pushed through a woven mesh stencil onto the fabric. 

If the designs have many colors, each color will be separately printed with its own stencil. So, before printing, we need to break down the design into different layers of colors and then, prepare the corresponding stencils. 

Then, the ink is pulled across the stencil with a blade or foam tool to produce a single layer of the design with vivid color.

Comparison between DTG printing and Screen printing

So, this is the most important part of our post - a comparison between DTG printing and screen printing. We will list 6 essential aspects to compare and point out which printing method is better in each aspect. 

Let’s get started!

Color blending 

Color blending is the ability to create smooth gradients and a range of colors. And DTG printers are excellent on this!

When it comes to gradients or precise blends, DTG printing does a better job than screen printing. And the special thing is that they require little setup.

Whereas, screen printers can take spot colors and create a spectrum. However, this printing method needs a lot of set-ups, which makes it less efficient, especially for smaller orders. 

With DTG printing, the inks more transparent than plastisol because they are water-based. So, the ink can overlap and easily blend, creating beautiful, smooth gradients. 

As a result, DTG printing wins!

Color blending - DTG printing wins (Source: LaptrinhX)

 

Durability 

While DTG printing needs to struggle with durability, screen printing has no problems with this. A quality DTG print can get dozens of washes before your shirts begin fading. With screen printing, you do not need to worry much about this. Of course, you only can keep your items in perfect color if you apply the proper printing steps and your customers follow the right washing instructions. 

Comfort and feel 

By comfort and feel, I mean a few things:

  • If the ink blocks the fibers: This can severely reduce the breathability of the fabric so your customers would not love wearing this. 
  • How heavy the print feels on the shirt. 
  • If the texture is rough on the skin. 
  • This feel is also known as “hand” in the screen printing business. 

When your designs have some color and you use the screen printing technique, your shirts will have many color layers on them. This may make you feel uncomfortable. However, with this method, you just have only 1 layer for all colors of designs. That’s great right?

So, there is no doubt that DTG printing comes out on top of the comfort and feel aspect.

Comfort and feel (Source: Creative Bloq)

 

Printing cost 

Screen printing is the most cost-effective when you need to print a large bundle of garments. The stencil process requires many set-ups but it also makes screen printing more efficient for large orders of one design.

If you print your garments in many colors, you will need to pay for high final prices. The reason is that each color used needs its own screen stencil created. So, if you want to save on costs, you need to print them in large quantities. 

Printing cost - both DTG printing or Screen printing have their own advantages. 

Unlike screen printing, DTG printing is most cost-effective for small custom printed t-shirts quantities. The cost of printing will not be seriously affected by the number of colors. 

However, with large batches, we need to use more ink and time (the printer can only handle one shirt at a time), which results in higher prices.

So, if you need to print in big bundles, you should use screen printing. And if you want to print garments in small quantities (no more than 150 pieces), DTG printing is a good choice. 

Printing cost - both DTG printing or Screen printing have their own advantages. 

In summary, both DTG printing and screen printing has their pros and cons. Depending on your garment designs and printed apparel quantities, choices of printing methods vary.

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