Style & Design Tips
Which one is better: DTG printing or dye-sublimation?
There are many printing methods that you can use to print your garments such as DTG printing, dye-sublimation, screen printing, or vinyl printing. Various options may confuse you when you start to jump into the POD industry or other printing businesses.
Therefore, in this post, we will make comparisons between DTG and dye-sublimation so that you can consider and choose the suitable printing method for your business.
Before we compare DTG printing and dye-sublimation, we will briefly introduce the definition of each printing method and how it works. Let’s start with DTG printing first.
1. Direct-to-garment printing
1.1. What is DTG printing?
DTG printing is a new and modern printing method. This printing method involves using specialized aqueous inkjet technology to print on garments. And the whole printing process is performed by digital printers.
Currently, the technology has been continuously improved, which gives DTG printing lots of enhancements.
1.2. How does DTG printing work?
As mentioned, this process is conducted by digital printers. They typically have a platen designed so that the garment is kept in a fixed position. Then, the printer inks are directly jetted or sprayed onto the garments by the print head.
To simplify, just imagine that DTG printing works in the same way as your inkjet printer at your office. However, instead of printing on paper, the DTG printer performs its work on garments.
2.1. What is dye-sublimation?
Dye-sublimation uses digital printing technology. However, dye-sublimation uses heat transfer to apply an image to the intended substrate. This kind of printing is suitable for decorating apparel, signs, banners, and other items with sublimation-friendly surfaces. We will clearly explain this later in this post.
2.2. How does dye-sublimation work?
In general, dye-sublimation features 2 main parts:
- Sublimation inks are used to print designs onto special transfer paper
- Transfer the ink-on-paper to the substrate by using a heat press
3. How are DTG printing and dye-sublimation different?
We have just briefly known about definitions of DTG printing and dye-sublimation as well as how they work. So, let’s come to the main part now: the differences between DTG printing and dye-sublimation.
In general, DTG printing works best on 100% cotton garments. If you go down to 50% cotton, DTG printing still can perform well. But if your garment is less than 50%, just don’t use this printing method. The most common material used for T-shirt blank is combed and ringspun cotton fabric.
Dye-sublimation is ideally used in a white 100% Polyester or a blend with cotton. We usually use this fabric to produce sportswear. Besides, dye-sublimation is used on white polymer-coated hard materials such as plastic mobile covers or ceramic mugs.
So, which printing method you choose depends on the fabric that your garments are made of.
3.2. Printing areas
When it comes to printing areas, dye-sublimation is perfect for all-over-print. With dye-sublimation, designs are printed on large transfer paper and applied to garments via a heat press.
Whereas, DTG printing has smaller working areas so it is suitable to use it for printing in some selected parts of garments.
Therefore, before you make your decision on which printing method to use, you should take this into consideration. Otherwise, your printed garments won’t look good and meet your expectations.
Dye-sublimation lasts longer than most other printing methods. Colors are imbedded in the substrate or fabric rather than printed on the surface with dye-sublimation printing. In this way, the colors and images printed by dye-sublimation are super durable.
In contrast to dye-sublimation, DTG printing has problems with durability. Because of the ink that DTG printers use and the way the ink is applied, we can eventually see the print fade significantly after repeated washing and drying. In general, DTG prints can still survive 50+ washes but even if so, the ‘vintage look’ trend in t-shirts still can look great.
3.4. Some other features of DTG printing and dye-sublimation
- Blends - It used to be that you could only use natural fibers with DTG printing, but some improvements thanks to technology have allowed for synthetic fibers also. You can now utilize 50/50, tri-blends, polyester, and other materials.
- Colors - You can use DTG printing on any color background. Whether it’s a hat or a t-shirt, we can lay down a white base with ink technology and put color on top of any garment or substrate.
- Any Substrate that can lay flat - Most people may think that they can only print on t-shirts. However, using different attachments, we can use it on hats, koozies, sleeves, pillowcases, canvas bags shoes, and much more.
- Small Footprint - DTG can have some small footprints, which depend on the equipment you start with.
- Hard or Soft Substrates - You can print on mugs, blankets, socks, keychains, clocks etc. So, the possibilities of dye-sublimation are endless! It provides you much flexibility on what you can do for your customers.
- High volume - (runs) You print your items in high volumes. This allows you to do one-offs, or do continuous printing on rolls of media as well as unintended printing overnight with just a click of a button.
- Hand - The way the garment actually feels. With dye-sublimation, the ink becomes one with polymer molecules.
We have just explained DTG printing and dye-sublimation. Actually, there is no best printing method because your choices of DTG or dye-sublimation depend on many factors: fabrics, printing volume, printing areas on garments, etc. So, when you begin your POD business, take all of the factors into consideration and pick the most suitable printing method for your own business. If you have any questions, just comment right below and we are more than happy to help you!