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Direct-to-Garment Printing

Direct to garment printing (DTG) is a relatively new technology in the garment printing world. It’s taken the industry by storm because of the stunning images you can achieve and the cost-effective print runs for entrepreneurs. So, if you’re considering adding a DTG printer to your shop, or want to start a printing business, we’ll answer some of the most-asked questions about this technology.

What Is DTG Printing?

The two most popular types of printing for garments are silk screening and DTG. Both technologies are the polar opposite of each other, and each has its advantages depending on the application. 

Most people are familiar with screen printing; it’s a simple, effective, and a process that’s been around for decades. 

Instead of pushing ink through a mesh screen, DTG printing applies ink directly to the garment via an inkjet printer. This inkjet printer works much like your office inkjet printer does except instead of putting ink onto paper, it puts it onto fabric. 

However, unlike your office printer, the DTG printers use special water-based ink, which absorbs into the fibers of the shirt or whatever you’re printing. 

The benefits of this style of printing are that you can achieve much more colorful and eye-popping images than you can with silk screening at a lower price. Also, this technology allows you to print on demand or lesser quantities, which is attractive for both the print shop and the customer because it eliminates the cost of burning and setting up screens. 

The result is a high-quality image at a better price for the customer and more money in the print shop’s bank account. 

Is DTG Printing Good Quality?

The short answer is, “yes!” While both screen printing and DTG printing methods can achieve incredible images in the right hands, the truth is that you’ll have an easier time making designs that grab attention through DTG printing because you’re not limited with color. 

Today’s DTG printers create images with thousands of colors and smooth transitions and tones, which are complicated — and sometimes impossible — to achieve through screen printing. 

Where the printer becomes challenged is printing on dark-colored garments. In those cases, you print a white base first and then lay down your final design, so the colors don’t appear dull. However, if you stick to printing on light-colored shirts, your images will look great. 

Now, the next thing you may want to know is how durable are the designs? Everyone has purchased screen printed shirts and seen the ink crack and fade after a few trips through the washer and dryer. 

However, DTG printed shirts hold up exceptionally well, even after repeated washings. Of course, all printed garments fade over time, but with direct to garment printing, you get a product that looks great for a long time.

How Much Does A DTG Printer Cost?

So, you’re convinced that DTG printing is the way to go, and you’re ready to add a printer to your shop. It’s helpful to know what you’ll shell out to get a good model. 

Like any piece of equipment, DTG printers run the gamut from pro models that cost up to $250,000 to budget models that can be had for about $10,000.

The expensive printers are geared towards shops producing hundreds or thousands of garments a month and require the output and advanced features these machines offer. 

If you’re new to the industry, you can get an excellent printer for about $15,000. And while that may seem like a lot to plunk down, remember that it pays for itself as soon as you put it into action. 

Is DTG Cheaper Than Screen Printing?

If you’re talking about the investment to get into the business, both screen printing and DTG printing are about the same for the equipment, and both will set you back a hefty sum at the outset.

As for cost per shirt, the answer is, “it depends.” 

Screen printing is cheaper if you’re printing a large number of shirts. While the setting up of the screens costs money, the overall printing is less expensive because you can crank out a high volume of shirts in a short time. When you begin adding more colors to screen printing, the cost goes up because you need another screen for each color you use. 

So, if you have a job that requires 500 or more shirts, screen printing is the better option. 

However, for low quantity jobs, you can’t beat DTG printing because the number of colors doesn’t affect the price. You can print a design that has 1,000 colors, and the cost won’t go up. If you plan on doing a lot of custom or one-off products, a DTG printer is the way to go.

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Epson SureColor F2100 WE DTG Printer (SCF2100WE)
Epson SureColor F2100 WE DTG Printer (SCF2100WE)

Price Includes $2,500 Instant Rebate

Direct-to-Garment Printer

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Artwork for DTG Printing Book by Dane Clement - Hardcopy