101Equipment / Process

What is Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printing?

Luftkuss Atelier

Direct-to-garment printing, also known as DTG printing or digital printing, has only been around for about 20 years. But in that short time, this printing technique has revolutionized the fashion world in ways no one expected.

DTG printing was first introduced in 1996 by a company called DIS from Florida. DIS  created the first commercially available DTG printer named “Revolution”. At the time, the only printing options popular for mass production were heat transfer, sublimation, and screen printing, but the “Revolution” turned the industry upside down by offering a way to transfer images directly to clothing without any screen printing.

Within a few years on the market, it was clear that DTG machines produced higher resolution images than any existing fabric printing method. The market quickly realized that this printing method was much cleaner and easier to set up than screen printing while other garment printing techniques still exist. DTG has become the printing method of choice for thousands of professional clothing printers all over the world.

How does DTG printing work?

Direct-to-garment printing in textile is the process of embroidering, patterning, printing onto fabric of a costly modified inkjet tool to apply designs directly to the fabric.

DTG machines work on the same basic principles as inkjet printers. These printers use special print heads to apply water-based ink to fabrics. Because this type of ink applies only well to natural fibers, DTG printing pairs perfectly with fabrics such as bamboo, cotton and hemp. 

Before using this type of modified inkjet printer to print a design on your garment, your printing company will use a process called pretreatment. To pre-treat your garment, the printing company will apply a heated press that compresses the fiber. Fibers such as cotton and bamboo often pull away from clothing, and this printing process flattens the fibers, which makes the printing process more effective.

While pre-treatment is not required for every garment, it is essential when applying light or white ink dyes to dark colored garments. After the piece of garment is pretreated, your printing company will transfer the garment to a special table that holds the product in place during the printing process. The printhead will then apply the exact design that the printing company has uploaded to the connected computer.

How long does the digital printing process take?

It takes about three minutes to print a single garment with DTG. This print time will vary depending on the type of press your printing company uses and the complexity of the design. 

Some DTG printers can print multiple shirts or other garments in a row. However, a technician may need to remove the printed garment and replace it with a blank piece of clothing to continue the printing process.

The time until the completion of your order depends on the capabilities of the printing company. For example, imagine you have an order of 100 hoodies that have designs on both the front and back.

If your chosen printing company only has one DTG printer, your collection may take several days to complete. If your printing company has other customers lined up in front of you, your order may take even longer.

Advantages and disadvantages of DTG printing

As the name suggests, this technique involves digitally printing directly onto a garment with a printing machine. DTG printing is a relatively new technology. It has the best print quality among the other printing methods. However, it is not a cost-effective method for bulk orders.

Advantages of Digital Printing

  • It produces excellent, high-quality results.
  • Perfect for small volumes.
  • It offers a wide variety of color options with the maximum possible detail.

Disadvantages of Digital Printing

  • The cost is high for large volumes.
  • It offers limited placement options for your design.

What are digital printing products?

There is digital printing wherever you can see the word textile. Sofa pillow covers, bedding sets, t-shirts, dresses, skirts, sweatshirts and jackets, hats, scarves and shawls, carpet covers or all kinds of carpets (mats, runners, bathroom rugs etc.) visually enhanced with digital printing are among the most common ones. 

In addition to these, digitally printed colored zebra curtains and backdrop curtains are some of the products that are now produced and attract attention.

Digitally printed carpets are also very popular these days. The pricing of these carpets, which have gained popularity, is at the same rate as its reputation. When you want to buy a soft and digitally printed carpet, you may hear numbers above the prices you are used to.

Insprad Creative Agency

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