DTG Printing vs. Screen Printing: What's the Difference? | Total Ink Studio | Online Designer & Business Automation - Total Ink Studio

DTG Printing vs. Screen Printing: What’s the Difference?

With direct-to-garment printing entering the market for apparel businesses, clothing business owners are re-evaluating the use of screen printing. Screen printing was the undefeated champion of luxury finishes on garment prints, but DTG may be close to defeating this centuries-old method.

The initial costs for DTG can be quite high — printers can cost up to &800,000, but the return is high. On the other hand, screen printing can be more complicated because of the lengthy process.

A person applying ink onto a mesh screen to cloth.

Make the best printing method decision for your apparel brand. Either way, our online apparel design software has your back with its adaptable features to support all kinds of methods.

Traditional Screen Printing

Screen printing has been traced back to ancient Chinese BCE era garment production, where bamboo tools were used to create prints. Ink is pushed through a mesh stencil onto fabric and left to dry. Screen printing ink doesn’t absorb into the fabric; it sits on top instead.

Screen printing gets points for ultimate vibrancy, as the ink loses none of its colors to the cloth and stays fresh even after years of use.

Screen printing is also great for creating patterns and prints all over your fabric. With large enough screens, you can print patterns on to large areas of cloth easily. This cloth can then be cut and sewn to make apparel.

An illustration of a printer with cloth running through, designs and t-shirt around it.

Up-and-Coming DTG

DTG is a method that works through a specialized DTG printer. This machine uses inkjet technology to print directly onto the fabric, just like paper. With DTG, the ink soaks into the cloth’s fibers instead of sitting on top of it.

DTG works brilliantly for intricate print details and graphic images that need to be reproduced as is. DTG also doesn’t need set-up time, so a designer can sit down to create a new pattern on their apparel design software and have a physical sample within the same day.

However, DTG does require more advanced tech skills than screen printing does, as well as a considerable amount of knowledge about automatic printing.

Which One is Better?

There’s no definitive answer to this. Both have their pros and cons. Screen printing, for example, isn’t great for custom printing or small orders. Detail-oriented garment prints are also near impossible to accomplish with screen printing. However, it’s the best choice out there for bulk production.

On the other hand, DTG is new and creates detailed prints fast, but it can be hard to manage for a small business receiving too many orders. You may have to invest in a few printers to keep up with demand since you can only print out one at a time.

DTG will also require you to get proper design software training, but the simple solution is to use our online product design software, it’s streamlined, simple to use and low-cost. Get a tour through our apparel design tool and decide for yourself!

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