Direct to Garment vs Screen Printing: What’s the Difference?

Whether you’re aiming to start your own fashion line, or you’re an unrepentant lover of t-shirts, printing all kinds of designs on the fabric is a must.

However, not all t-shirt printing techniques are equal. The two overarching printing techniques tend to come with their own perks and drawbacks. Therefore, you’ll always want to keep direct to garment vs screen printing dichotomy in mind.

But, if this is your first foray into the realm of t-shirt printing, then there’s no need to worry. We’ve got your back. Keep on reading for our full breakdown of both techniques. We’ll start by exploring what makes each method unique. Then, we’ll highlight the differences between them.

What Is Screen Printing?

Let’s start with the basics. When it comes to screen printing, the ink is pushed through a netted mesh stencil onto the cloth.

Each color in the pattern is printed individually on a different screen. This implies that your design must first be divided into layers based on color. Typically, design tools such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop are used for this.

Then, using a sewn-screen stencil, a single color of ink is applied, one stencil for each color used in the shirt’s pattern.

The ink is dragged over the stencil using a blade or foam tool, resulting in a single layer of bright, rich color.

Screen printing is more suited to specific types of t-shirt designs because of this technique. It does, however, generate high-quality outcomes that have been popular with customers for decades.

What Is DTG Printing?

Otherwise known as direct-to-garment printing, this is a form of digital printing that puts ink and graphics to the t-shirt fabric you’re creating using the direct to garment printing technique.

Given that we live in a digital world in every way, most individuals prefer this newer printing technique. It’s for this reason why it’s become so popular in recent years. The design is clean and precise, with crisp edges and high-quality detail.

Consider the office printer you have at home; DTG printing works in the same manner. The main difference is that you’re printing on t-shirts rather than paper.

It’s a precise printing technique. Your computer picture is transferred onto a blank t-shirt by the printer, who can handle designs in various colors. The ink is water-based, and it is applied in a single layer to the t-fibers.

But, you’ll want to go for high-quality DTG providers to get the best results. If you already know that you’d prefer DTG, then you should click here for more information.

Direct to Garment vs Screen Printing: The Differences

Since these t-shirt printing techniques are so different, each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

One will almost certainly be a better option than the other, depending on your custom printing job details. The most important distinctions to consider when selecting a technique fall into two categories: design and pricing.

Design Differences

Both printing processes will create a high-quality t-shirt when done by a professional with the proper equipment, but there are a few key distinctions to consider based on your design.

DTG printing uses just one layer of ink to generate the final pattern, while screen printing uses several layers. This has a few significant implications, especially in terms of how you utilize color in your design:

Screen printing creates a more vivid, long-lasting pattern with more saturated colors than DTG. The time-consuming procedure of converting your design into numerous stencils, on the other hand, restricts the number of colors you may employ.

With a single layer of ink, DTG printing creates a somewhat faded pattern, but there are no limitations to the number of colors you may use. However, certain constraints make some color combinations impossible. Digital printers, for example, may find it difficult to produce patterns using light-colored ink on dark textiles.

As a result, some t-shirt designs are more suited to each technique than others. Screen printing is best for simple, styled patterns with images or text in a few colors, while DTG printing can handle more complex designs in many colors, typically on light-colored cloth.

Understanding the Pricing Range

Variations in ultimate costs are a result of the underlying differences between each procedure.

Both may be excellent options, but it all depends on the details of your project. Here’s how they compare:

The Costs of Screen Printing

For bigger quantities of shirts, screen printing is the most cost-effective option. Set-up costs are somewhat higher using the stencil technique, but it also makes screen printing more economical for big orders of one design.

Using more than the required number of colors, on the other hand, slows down the process and raises the final price since each color has its own screen stencil.

Screen printing, on the other hand, usually has cost savings built-in as you print more t-shirts! As more shirts are produced, having master stencils for each layer simplifies the process.

The Costs of DTG Printing

For small quantities of custom-printed t-shirts, DTG printing is the most cost-effective option. The total cost is unaffected by the number of colors utilized.

On the other hand, large quantities will need more ink and time since the printer can only handle one shirt at a time, resulting in greater costs. DTG printing does not usually save money in the same manner as screen printing does.

When selecting a printing provider to handle your custom t-shirt printing job, keep the scale of your project in mind. Depending on the scale of your project, some custom clothing providers only offer one or the other, while others offer both DTG and screen printing choices.

When you use a DTG-only service, your cost per shirt does not decrease when you order more shirts, but when you use screen printing, you usually spend less per shirt as the quantity of shirts increases.

The Types of T-Shirt Printing: Exploring Your Options

Depending on your preferred aesthetics, budget, and design, you might already feel like you’d pick one type of t-shirt printing instead of the other.

Hopefully, after going through our article, you’re more aware of the direct to garment vs screen printing differences. This should allow you to make a better selection from the getgo.

And, if you enjoyed those tips, you’ll definitely want to check out our fashion and lifestyle section for additional tips and tricks.