DTG vs. Screen Printing: Which Should I Choose for My T-Shirt Design?

If you are getting t-shirts printed for your business, there will be many options to choose from when it comes to how the printing company transfers the design on to the garment. However, Direct to Garment (DTG) and screen printing are the two that are most used.

If the printer you are working with offers both options, you’ll need to pick the one best suited to your needs. But how do you know which one is the right choice? This article with look at these processes so you can make an educated decision.

What is Screen Printing?

Screen printing involves ink being pushed though a woven screen onto the fabric of a garment. Each element requires a different screen, and the ink is applied to each screen making for a layered process that creates the image. The ink does not soak into the fabric, it lays on top of it.

Because the process is involved, it is best for bulk production. After all, you wouldn’t want to go through all the trouble of having several screens created just to make a few t-shirts.

Screen printing calls for each color to be applied to the garment separately. To keep things simple, the printing company may limit the number of colors you use on your design, typically to no more then nine.

The screens that are used don’t allow for the picking up fine details. Making stencils for small images is time consuming and difficult. Therefore, screen printing will work best with basic designs, symbols and shapes.

What is DTG?

DTG uses a printer not unlike a paper printer. But instead of printing on paper, it prints on clothing.

It’s a good choice for printing one offs because it requires very little set up time. Once the design is in the computer, it can be printed onto a garment and sent to the customer. However, it can be used for larger orders as well.

DTG is great for printing detailed, realistic images. However, it is not best for transparencies. Elements that are less than 100% opaque will not translate well with DTG.

The DTG process is also more sustainable. Because you can print one offs, you can make the exact number of shirts you need ensuring that none are going to waste.

And while DTG may seem like the best option for many reasons, it may not fit everyone’s budget. Because DTG printers can only handle one shirt at a time, the price of printing is higher. DTG also does not offer bulk savings like screen printing does. DTG also needs 100% cotton or close to it, for the most vibrant print.

However, DTG makes for less waste which may make up for the added expense.

Which Option is Best for Me?

DTG is the best option if you are doing non-transparent, highly detailed images. But if detail is not that important, and budget is, screen printing may be the way to go. Which is best suited to your merchandising needs?