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What is Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing?
Imagine having a big printer, and you print directly onto the garment, for example t-shirts, using modified inkjet technology. This method allows you to print your picture directly onto your apparel without losing any of the details.
This method of print is similar to digital heat transfer printing or Sublimation printing as it is also capable of printing real life images or complex designs on t-shirts without the hefty price tag of silk screen printing.
Let’s explore this advanced method of print.
1. How did Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing come about?
Direct-to-garment printing has come in the apparel printing scene in the year 1996. Yes, it is a relatively new method of printing as compared to silk screen printing or embroidery which dated centuries ago.
This method of printing was founded by a guy called Matthew Rhome. Upon this revolutionary idea of printing directly onto apparels, the first printer was founded, named “Revolution”.
Since it is a relatively new invention as we’re now only in the year of 2017, many companies have since then built upon the idea of DTG and produced magnificent state of the art printers to sell DTG printing.
Some well-known companies are Mimaki & Kornit. Despite all who managed to come up with the best printer, Epson emerged the top, and named to have created the best DTG printer on the surface of Earth in 2014.
2. DTG printing process (Step-by-step)
How long would you require to print a piece of paper? That’s about the simplicity of dtg printing, as mentioned earlier, is like printing on a piece of t-shirt.
If you are printing on white garments, no pre-treatment will be required. However, if you are looking to print on dark garments, pre-treatment is required.
Why is this so? This is because a layer of white ink is required to act as a base for the coloured inks (of your designs) to sit on top of the white layer.
And of course, to prevent the white ink from penetrating the t-shirt, a pre-treatment liquid is applied to bind the t-shirt fabric together allowing the white ink to stay on top of the t-shirt.
Pre-treatment of the t-shirt (Manual)
- First, place the t-shirt on a flat surface for easy application.
- Prepare the pre-treatment solution.
- Carefully spread the pre-treatment liquid on the t-shirts using a brush or spray.
- Once done, apply a heat transfer paper on top to allow the t-shirt to go under the heat press machine for 35 seconds at 350 degrees to allow the fabric to bind together and complete the pre-treatment process!
Once pre-treated, you can now place the t-shirt onto the Epson DTG printer. Using the software that is applicable directly on your computer, position the design file to the location where you wish to print the design on.
During the process, as mentioned earlier, a white ink layer will be printed first, followed by the colored inks. After 3 minutes, you will have a t-shirt with full image printing with excellent finishing.
The ink is still wet. Therefore, don’t forget to apply the heat press machine with a transfer paper in between for 1 minute at 350 degrees. Finish!
If that was too complicated, you can view the video below for visual reference!
3. Advantages & Disadvantages of DTG Printing
To help you make a better choice when deciding on the type of t-shirt printing services, we have also come up with some advantages and disadvantages of dtg printing.
- Print full-coloured designs without any loss of details.
- Print at affordable prices for small quantities as compared to silk screen printing.
- Ink is part of the apparel for white garments, and soft touch ink for dark garments, giving it the quality of t-shirts that branded retail shops sell.
- Price – Despite being cheaper to print full-colored designs than silk screen printing at lower quantities, it is relatively a more costly method of printing especially for bigger sizes like A4 or A3 sized design.
- Printing on dark garments will add even more costs. This is because on dark garments, a first layer of white ink has to be printed on the apparel as a base, followed by the actual ink color of the design to give the full image printing effect.
- Efficiency – Longer than normal bulk silk screen printing as only one machine can print one design at a time.
- It is not suitable to create individual names or numbers at low cost. For this, you will need vinyl heat transfer printing method.
5. Recommendations for DTG printing by MEOWPRINT
DTG printing is recommended for customers who are looking to print full-colored designs with latest technology inkjet onto their apparel. It is recommended for customers who have small quantities to print these full-colored designs.
The costing does not significantly decrease over large quantity as the set-up costs is pretty much fixed due to the nature of DTG printing. This is the same as embroidery in terms of costing, although embroidery cost price decrease at higher quantities.
Although the quality of printing may be more appealing to many of our customers, but the price may not be the same case.
It is a much more affordable method of printing and we strongly recommend it.
6. Recent Projects of Direct-to-Garment printed apparels
Recent projects of DTG printing will be provided soon!
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