Screen printing and direct to garment (DTG) printing are two common printing methods that are used in the garment decoration industry. Both these methods have their advantages and limitations in terms of designs and the expenses that they cost you.

In this article, we will take a comparative analysis of these two most popular printing methods and which one is better for your business model:


Screen Printing

Screen Printing is an old printing method that uses a mesh screen with a stencil to produce prints and custom patches on a garment. It uses a squeegee to apply the dye onto the clothing by pushing and pulling the tool on the screen mesh. The result is high-quality print that looks awesome to the eyes. While screen printing produces excellent quality of prints, it has its set of pros and cons. Here they are:


It Is Good for Bulk Batches

Screen printing is ideal for large-scale orders. It creates a fantastic fill for the larger batch of t-shirts. No matter if you are printing a bunch of a hundred t-shirts or a thousand, the screen printing is the right printing solution you can count on to get high-quality prints.

It Offers Great Printing Quality

Screen printing has been the primary printing method for thousands of printers. And the fact that it produces incredible designs is a good reason that it continues to be the best option for the garment decoration business who create custom made patches for clothes. So let’s say if you have a consignment of hundred t-shirts, the print quality of the 100th t-shirt will be the same as that of the first t-shirt.

It Offers Speed and Accuracy

When it comes to running a business, speed and accuracy is a rare combination to achieve. But screen printing offers you both these features at the same time. A screen printing setup can provide you with a quick turnover for a large volume of t-shirts. Obviously, that is an advantage as you will be able to print large quantities of t-shirts and quickly recover the production cost.


It Is Not Suitable for Printing Multiple Colors and Elaborate Designs

The biggest drawback for screen printing is that it cannot produce multiple colors and intricate designs. If you need to print different colors and designs, you will need a different screen and stencils which means you will add to the printing expenses and the aggregate costs of printing will increase.

It Poses Higher Upfront Cost

The upfront cost is another area that factor in screen printing. For companies that intend to run a large-scale production to print 3-5 t-shirts per second, they will have to make a hefty investment. It will include the equipment like conveyor dryers, automatic presses, ink mixing workshop as well as the screen processing apparatus.

Direct to Garment (DTG) Printing

DTG is a modern printing method that has gained wider popularity with advancements in technology. It works similar to an inkjet printing process that you do in your home and office. The only difference is that you can create your own patch on a t-shirt instead of an A4 paper.

Just like paper printing, a DTG printer uses a water-based ink to produce designs on a t-shirt. The Ink is absorbed by the fabric of the t-shirt which results in high-quality design. DTG printing can create excellent prints on a t-shirt that looks as precise as the design on the computer file.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a DTG printing method:


It Is a Perfect Printing Solution for Multiple Colors and Intricate Designs

DTG is the best printing solution to print designs with elaborate detailing and multiple colors. Since the ink jet printer uses the ink cartridges which is capable of handling the different colors and intricate designs, you can print highly elaborate designs on the t-shirt.

It is the Best Option for Limited Batch

DTG is ideal for printing small batches of t-shirts. For example, it is a viable option for producing samples t-shirts to pitch a client. So you can cut down on the high costs that go into screen printing t-shirts. This is also a suitable option for startups who don’t have sufficient money to invest in a large-scale printing setup like screen printing.

It Demands Less Upfront Cost

A DTG printing process is very apt for limited batch (less than 10 t-shirts) which means the upfront cost is much less than a screen printing method. Since you will be paying for only short consignments of t-shirts, you can control the final price of a t-shirt.


It is Not Suitable for Large Bulk Orders

A DTG can only print one t-shirt at a time. But if you are printing 100 t-shirts, it will require more consumption of ink and time which will affect the cost of a single t-shirt. And as the price of a single t-shirt increases, it will increase the aggregate cost of the entire batch.

It Has Limited Options for Design Placement

Since DTG is using an inkjet printer to produce a design on a t-shirt, it offers very few options to place the print on a t-shirt. Unlike screen printing, DTG doesn’t provide the room to print designs across a t-shirt, on sleeves or on the collar which means you’ll have a hard time to print the designs on these areas.

The Print Is Less Durable Than Screen Printing

DTG prints are not permanent, and the design loses its life after several washes. Unlike screen printing which creates a layer of dye onto the fabric, a DTG ink absorbs into the fibers of a t-shirt which wither away with time.

The Bottom-line…

Both screen printing and direct to garment printing methods have their upsides and downsides. But one thing is common in both these types of garment printing, and that is the quality of the print. They both can produce excellent designs on t-shirts with vivid colors.

The screen printing is a more expensive method as it requires higher setup cost and lead time which make it a suitable option only for bulk printing. On the other hand, a DTG print works best for a build-on-demand business model in which the printers supply small batches of t-shirts.

So you have to make your mind to get the best out of your project. Remember that many companies offer both these printing methods to cater to the needs of their clients, and we are among the leading printing facilities that can give you the best t-shirt prints according to your specific requirements.

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