There are many different types of garment printing. However, the most common comparison is between traditional screen printing and the newer direct-to-garment printing, or DTG for short.
DTG and screen-printing can create unique designs on various styles and fabrics — from classic 100% cotton t-shirts to fleece-blend pullovers.
While there are benefits to DTG and screen-printing, it’s not a black-and-white answer as to which type of printing is the best for everything.
To help you understand which type of printing is best for your business or your specific design, we partnered with Stoked On Printing in Las Vegas, Nevada, to cover five scenarios you may run into and which type of printing is best for each one.
Choosing the Best Kind of Printing for Your Store
Choosing the printing right for you is only sometimes a one-size-fits-all situation. There are times when DTG is the right choice and other times when screen printing is the wisest option.
Here are a few elements you need to consider to help you choose the best kind of printing.
Number of Prints
The number of prints you’re ordering will play a huge factor in deciding the best printing method. For example, screen printing will likely be cheaper if you order more than 25 prints.
Otherwise, DTG is a suitable option for smaller printing batches.
Number of Colors
That rule of 25 is if you’re using just a general one to two colors because the number of colors you use will also impact the price. Screen printing becomes more expensive per color because you must make a different screen. Of course, it drives up the time it takes to make the shirt.
On the other hand, DTG is like a massive inkjet printer that prints all the colors simultaneously. There is no price difference between one color and a photographic image with dozens of color variations.
For graphics with many different colors, or if you have many different color variations, DTG may be a better option than screen printing.
“Personalization” refers to groups where each shirt (or item in a batch) will differ.
- Wedding groups
- Sports teams
- Group trips
- And more
You should have each person’s name, number, or another personalization on the shirt.
If you’re doing this, you will want to go with DTG. Much like with multiple colors, you must make a screen for each new element you want to print. If you have ten different names on shirts, that will drive your price up.
Plus, the cost of screen printing can quickly skyrocket if you use multiple colors on top of personalization.
For lots of personalization — whether that’s with colors, names, or other elements, DTG would be the best case.
With screen printing, you don’t have to worry about the fabric you’re printing on. There are many different types of special effect inks that you can use, but even just the most traditional printing will turn out fine regardless of the fabric.
On the other hand, DTG can get tricky. DTG works best with 100% cotton because shirts that contain other fibers (like polyester) will absorb the ink used. Although it is okay, it can make your outcome a little muted or more vintage than what you wanted.
If a vintage look is what you’re after, DTG can be an excellent printing method for shirts containing polyester. As a result, making the shirt and the design itself look more lived-in.
However, Bella + Canvas does a lot of testing and works alongside many printing companies to test their fabrics. So if you’re using a Bella + Canvas poly blend, you don’t have to stress too much about the ink absorbing into the material as much as other brands. The polyester in Bella + Canvas fabric blends acts more like a natural fiber than a synthetic one, allowing the ink to lay better.
Overall, the fabric composition is something to consider. However, if you want to use a poly-cotton blend or tri-blend, you can always order a one-off to test the outcome since DTG printing is excellent for single-print designs.
Specialty Inks and Effects
With screen printing, there are so many different cool effects that you can do.
Some of the many effects you can incorporate into your design include:
- Glow-in-the-dark inks
- Crackle ink
- Neon colors
- And more
You can’t do this with DTG.
If you have your heart set on how you want the design to look — whether that’s a unique placement or a unique ink or effect, screen printing will be your best bet.
However, if your focus is on using lots of colors and personalization, DTG is a great, quick option.
Discover the Best Printing for Your Brand or Business
Regardless of your design vision for your t-shirts and other garments, there’s a suitable printing method for your brand.
DTG printing will be your best bet if you want multiple colors and personalization. However, screen printing may be the best choice if you’re experimenting with different effects and materials — or have large batches.
Many businesses may want to incorporate DTG and screen printing designs to get the benefits of each, depending on the customization and vision they have for each garment.
At the end of the day, when you’re looking at these decisions, you can always call up a printer like Stoked on Printing and get some help with price checking. It’s great to have a full-service printer that offers DTG and screen printing. They’ve got the expertise to provide you with the best advice and can help and answer any printing-specific questions you have about bringing your designs to life.