Direct To Garment printing (DTG) or Inkjet Printing or Digital Garment Printing- these are various names of DTG printing. The only printing techniques available for bulk printing were screen printing, heat transfer, CAD cut vinyl, embroidery and dye sublimation.
This efficient technology emerged in the 90s. This short period has brought a revolution in the fashion industry by introducing ways to transfer images onto the garment without silkscreens directly.
So far, compared to other printing methods, DTG produces high-resolution prints, and the process is much easier and simpler compared to the traditional ones. As a result, it has become one of the most preferred printing methods by professional apparel printers. You can print these on sweatshirts, caps, t-shirts, posters, banners, and the list goes on.
DTG print uses water-based inkjet technology to print on garments. The fibres soak the ink evenly, which results in a smooth surface texture. As a result, it produces high-quality and photorealistic prints directly onto the t-shirt. Unlike screen print, DTG has a great potential to print complex artworks that require vivid colour ranges. The best part is that it is efficient to carry out small batch orders.
No matter whatever printing method you choose, always consider:
- The type of detail you wish to have.
- Quantity- Is it bulk production or small batches?
- The type of finish.
Based on these factors, you can always get the best option as per your requirements.
DTG Printing Process
DTG printing is a perfect source to produce unique products. Therefore, it is crucial to execute the procedure accurately. The equipment required to achieve these prints are:
- A Direct To Garment Printer- It is the centrepiece of your equipment. There are several versions available in the market. A tabletop printer is best for small productions. Workhorses are suitable for industrial bulk productions. Hybrid is a perfect combination of screen printing and DTG printing machine.
- A Curing Device- Curing of the pretreatments and ink is done on a conveyor dryer or a heat press.
- A Pretreatment machine- Pretreatment is a liquid solution used by DTG printers. Always use a primer before printing. You can either use ready-to-wear pretreated t-shirts or buy a pretreatment machine. It will apply the solution before the process begins.
Every step plays a vital role in the process. Hence, it is important to follow the instructions wisely.
Artwork- The first step starts by creating artwork. The print is in a RIP (Raster Image Processor) format. It is easy to re-edit and revise on software- EPS, Ai, Corel Draw and PDFs. Later the DTG printer reads and interprets the created file.
Garment- 100% cotton is best for DTG printing. It usually takes 30 minutes to print the design on light-coloured t-shirts. But it is crucial to understand the fabric composition. Hence it is advised to cure the fabric before printing. A heat press allows the fibres to settle down so that ink settles evenly.
Pretreatment- This step is crucial for dark coloured t-shirts. The pretreatment machine creates a layer for white ink to settle underneath the design.
Print- The t-shirt is then fixed on the DTG plate. It ensures that the print location and the alignment of the respective seams are in the proper position.
Curing- After printing, the t-shirt is taken back to the heat press for curing. Silicon sheet protects the design from excessive heat.
Dry and Quality Check- Final stage is to perform a quality check and send products for packaging.
How does DTG Printing Work?
A DTG printer works similar to a paper printer. The only difference is that you print directly onto the t-shirt. The specially designed print heads use water-based inks for the best outcome. Water-based inks dry quickly and absorb well into the fibres of the fabric. These work well with cotton, hemp and bamboo.
One of the crucial factors that determine the quality of a DTG printed garment is the pretreatment process. This process prepares your t-shirt for further processing. This process is optional with the CYMK inks but is mandatory if you use white ink or light-coloured ink as an under base for dark garments. The reason to use white ink underneath the artwork is to make the design pop.
A heat press flattens the fibres. Usually, cotton and bamboo fibres stick away from the t-shirt. The press compresses the fibres resulting in an efficient printing process. Once the pretreatment is complete, the t-shirt is laid on a press table. It holds the garment during printing. As per the design and print placement, the print head applies the design.
Is DTG printing eco-friendly?
There is a rise in demand for eco-friendly products in the market. Yes, a DTG printing machine provides sustainable solutions to both customers and the environment. The increase in the cost and production time harms the environment. Poor working conditions lead to:
- Low wages.
- Longer hours of work.
- Child labour.
DTG methods follow an eco-friendly process. For instance:
- Less Water Usage- Unlike plastisol based printers, DTG produces minimal wastage and usage of water. The printer directly applies ink onto the garment.
- Uses of Water-Based Ink- DTG uses biodegradable, water-based inks. Other printing methods use Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) , which are toxic chemicals that degrade the air and water quality over a while.
- Eco-Friendly- DTG uses sustainable practices like water preservation. Few printers in the market produce high-quality designs with zero water usage.
- Animal Cruelty-Free- DTG process does not involve harming the animals. Choose the fabric wisely to cause less harm to the environment.
- Consistent Quality- It is difficult to achieve consistency when it comes to the best quality. Manual work leads to the creation of identical prints. You do not have to worry about consistent quality when it comes to DTG.
We go green at Smart Blanks. Indulge yourself in our eco-friendly printing process. Our DTG printing methods always attempt towards perfection and better sustainability, thus delivering top quality products. We never fail to meet the requirements of our customers, making us the best wholesale service provider in the industry.