DTG vs. Screen Printing: What’s the Difference Between These Two Printing Methods?
When it comes to designing and executing custom t-shirts, you’ve likely come across the two most popular methods of printing: screen printing and DTG. If you are a printing novice, it is important for you to recognize the difference between the two — understanding the printing process and best practices will assist you in creating the best product possible.
Screen printing is a traditional method of custom t-shirt design. Screen printing involves pushing ink through a woven mesh stencil onto fabric. More classic by nature, screen printing has been around the longest. Skilled printers have used this technique to create unique, distinctive colors and authentic imagery.
Screen printing produces high-quality results because each color used in the design is printed on its own screen. Because of the use of individual screens, a design must be broken down into different layers according to color. This is one using design software such as Illustrator or Photoshop. By using this layering system, every single layer produced generates a fully saturated color.
Due to the tedious nature of the screen printing method, it is best used on designs that have a few different colors. Designs that involve typographic or bold graphic designs work best for screen printing. Those who are making larger batches of custom t-shirts (more than 10 shirts) usually opt for screen printing.
Unlike screen printing, DTG uses a digital printer to apply ink directly onto the fabric. Similar to the inkjet printer at home, the DTG printer translates a specific image of graphic onto the t-shirt.
With the technological advancements of DTG, printers have the capability of handling a variety of designs in many different colors. The water-based ink easily asbords into t-shirt fibers. Because it is printed digitally, there is little room for error and most always produce superb results.
Due to its ability to manufacture precise designs with a high level of detail, DTG printing is ideal for elaborate designs that call for a variety of different colors. However, some color combinations can be difficult to print — DTG printing has difficulty creating designs with light-colored ink on dark fabric.
The main factor of the cost depends on the quantity of custom t-shirts you are making. Screen printing is most cost-effective for larger batches of shirts. The stencil aspect of screen printing makes it more efficient for large quantities of one design. Having one master stencil for each layer streamlines the process.
DTG printing is best for small batches of custom t-shirts. The number of colors used won’t affect the price. The larger the batch, the more ink and time are needed. In addition, a printer can only print one shirt at a time. As a result, bulk savings are not the priority here.