Direct to Garment Printing Vs Screen Printing : An Insightful Comparison

There is frustration with the confusion about the printing method. Which printing method is the best? When starting a t-shirt business or online garment designing store, the first question arises for the printing process. Which one should you choose?

The most famous and acceptable printing methods are direct to garment and screen printing. Some factors matter a lot for choosing the printing idea. What type of design or color you choose to work is a significant matter that makes the printing method choice. You also have to make a good budget plan that encourages cost-effective production at maximum profit. You also will like printing processes that are nature friendly and ecology supported. The quality of printed design on particular garments is also an important matter to think about.

So, know the differences between direct to garment printing vs screen printing in detail. Then find the correct printing method and decide what you will follow.

What Is Direct To Garment Printing?

Direct to garment printing is a garment or apparel designing process. It uses the graphical presentation of images or patterns directly on clothes. Clothes can be pre-sewn or non-sewn. This process uses the inkjet printer that sprays ink on t-shirts, baby clothes, hoodies, hats, pillow covers, shoes, tote bags, etc., fabrics. The sprayed ink smoothly soaks into the garment materials automatically. It is like printing on plain paper. The ink is nicely effused in the textile and presents the design attractively.

digital direct to garment printing

The most attractive benefit of this process is that this direct garment printing nee almost no set up; instead, it is ready to one-offs system. You can do a quick printing job, or you can take loads of printing for brands, retailers, or sports. This process allows decorating fabric with detailed design and photographic color presentation.

What Is Screen Printing?

Screen printing is the most used technique. Before the innovation of other printing methods, the screen printing technique was the standard technique. This technique is versatile and long-lasting. The screen printing method pushes ink onto the fabric through a mesh screen. Since the ink does not diffuse to the fabric, it sets on the top of the material. It makes a durable, robust design on cloth or other garments.

screen printing meaning

The simplicity of the screen-printing technique makes it acceptable for the big production houses. It is not suitable for creating a design on one or two t-shirt or other fabrics. That’s why this method is used for bulk printing production. The most unfortunate thing is that these methods cannon mix lots of colors perfectly. It only works with 4 to 6 color ink and cannot make intricate color designs.

This method takes a long setting time. So, it is not suitable for a small printing process; instead, it is famous for big buying houses. If you have to make several layers of ink to set the design, this method is not cost-effective, and it will also be time-consuming.

How To Do Screen Printing

Though there are different types of screen printing processes, all the methods follow the same basic technique in the first place. Only a slight modification arises depending o the fabric type or printing designs. In screen printing, a particular medium is used to set ink on the fabric. This is the specialized mesh screen or woven screen, which is also called stencils.

How to Do Screen Printing

In this process, you have to make an element of the design on the stencils. Then the necessary color and pre-set component have to be applied by some layers. That means you have to set the strategy, placing layers one by one. The more element and color you need to set the design, the more layer you apply. More layers take a longer time than simple designs. Besides, if the number of layers is more, the design will be thick on the fabric.

Though the screen-printing technique is a time-consuming process, bulk printing production is the most popular method.

Direct to Garment Printing Vs Screen Printing : Which One To Use

Screen printing is a traditional method of printing, while direct to garment printing is the latest innovation. The screen printing method pushes ink on fabric and directs garment printing spray ink to soak into fabric. Both direct garment printing and screen printing has their benefits, demerits, necessities, and systems. Know them in terms of quality of prints, suitability to business and design types, their effects on nature, and cost.

Direct to Garment Printing Vs Screen Printing for Business Choice

Direct to garment printing does not need to take the hassle to make ready the products. This process does not require any color count and extra setup. So, it is a time-saving method. At the same time, screen printing needs a time-consuming structure for making the design elements and color settings.

Direct to garment printing machine can take the minimum to maximum printing orders from the customers to keep the stock intact. It allows printing on demand. Screen printing is better for bulk printing orders but not for low number printing. It is because there is the necessity of some investments before starting a design printing on fabric.

Direct to Garment Printing Vs Screen Printing for Business Choice

Direct to garment printing provides the flexibility to work and start the business. You can make some samples in small amount only for show as it does not need lots of investment. At the same time, screen printing is not suitable for sample production in low number printing. You can also practice direct-to-garment t-shirt printing at low investment. As you cannot make your customer base initially, screen printing is not suitable for new business.

So, you can say that direct garment printing is more suitable for starting a new business, while screen printing is suitable for a pre-developed big-budget printing business.

Direct to Garment or Screen Printing for Designs

Screen printing makes solid, powerful designs when you work with limited color ink and tiny detail graphics. For this reason, screen printing is better for garment tag printing, geometric design setting, symbol, label, shapes, and typography printing.

If you want to make intricate designs on the garment, it will take lots of time, and you have to set several stencils to create layers of colors. It is because each color needs a separate stencil setting. Besides, there is limited color adding chances, and that is a maximum of 9 colors. So, it is not a wise decision to use the screen printing kit for intricate design placement.

DTG Printing Vs Screen Printing

On the other hand, direct garment printing offers the chance to use more color options for making realistic lab-quality designs on fabric. You will be able to attract customers to your page or store. So, for the intricate design with more colors, direct to garment process is suitable.

The unfortunate disadvantage of this process is that you can print only on 100% opaque garments. Direct garment printing is not suitable for transparencies or materials that are less than 100% opaque.

Direct to Garment Printing Vs Screen Printing Quality

Direct to garment process makes a single layer of different colors, whereas the garment screen printing machine makes several layers. So, the screen-printing process can produce a more durable design with diffused colors on the fabric. Direct to garment printing process delivers a little faded color presentation on fabric designs.

Direct to Garment Printing Vs Screen Printing

If you want a long-lasting, clean, and clear design, screen printing will be perfect. For the structure that needs more color combination, direct to the garment will be correct.

Cost of Direct to Garment and Screen Printing

Though the printing system makes the cost, the profit and cost balance will also depend on your need.

If you have loads of big-budget designing projects, screen printing will do a better job. Though the setting process needs a pre-cost, you will have a significant profit from the larger batches. This is possible when you have lots of printing jobs on one or two designs using limited color combinations.

how long does dtg printing last

Small batch printing is perfectly matched with direct to the garment printing process. This makes cost-effective printing output because a small amount of cost does not affect the total expense. Direct garment printing can handle one shirt at a time; the bulk t-shirt screen printing offers savings. So, for large printing, the plain garment is not cost-effective. With the rise of color use, the cost increase.

Which Printing Process is Eco-Friendly?

Direct to garment printing process is a sustainable printing production process because it uses the one-offs system. This system reduces overproduction. So, this process does not make textile waste and uses a lower amount of carbon and energy.

On the other side, the screen printing process is used for bulk production and is responsible for textile waste creation. So, direct to garment printing is a more sustainable process than the screen printing process.

Final Thoughts

Depending on your demand, you have to choose one from direct to garment printing vs screen printing. If you have short production orders with intricate designs, you should go for the natural to garment printing process. You can use digital images or patterns with lots of colors and print on bags, shirts, or clothes. For the large production series, you should go for the screen-printing process to produce cost-effective products for big bundles.

Both the printing processes are capable of making excellent designs and high-quality prints. Only for the budget and some printing terms, you may choose one between them.

About Author


Alice covers platforms, policy and big tech at Printer Reviews. Prior to rejoining here, Alice was Senior Technology Editor of the TechDen. Alice first joined PrinterReviews in 2021. Before joining, he was the Tech Editor of the Daily Dot and a reporter and deputy editor at ReadWeb.

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