Screen Printing vs DTG (direct-to-garment)

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GetBold Provides Both Screen Printing and Direct-To-Garment. Here’s the Difference.

The two most popular garment printing options are direct-to-garment (DTG) and screen printing. In the Vancouver area, the trusted custom t-shirt printer is GetBold. We offer both screen printing and DTG (or, Direct To Garment). We’d like to describe the difference between the two, and their advantages and disadvantages. 

At GetBold we want to help you figure out the most cost-effective way to satisfy customer expectations and meet your business goals. We want to outline for you the difference between screen printing and DTG printing and when one is preferable to the other. Understanding these two processes will help you make the right decision.

Screen printing pushes the ink through a woven mesh stencil onto fabric. The ink does not soak into the fabric. This technique has been around for a long time. Each element of the design requires its own special screen. Each colour is applied layer by layer onto the garment. The more layers, the longer it takes. For this reason, screen printing is best for simpler designs in fewer colours.

DTG or Direct To Garment is a far more recent development and is a result of more recently developed digital technologies.

The Use of DTG Instead of Screen Printing and the Advantages

  • Screen printing is a longer process than DTG, requiring a more time-consuming preparation process.
  • The DTG process places no limits on your design (it can be as complicated and detailed as you’d like it to be). That is because the process is basically photographic replication. It is great for one-off printing. 
  • With DTG, you are not limited in the number of colours that you can use like you are with screen printing.
  • If you simply need under 25 shirts printed, it is more economical because you do not have the time and costs of labour-intensive preparation and set up. 
  • DTG is the future. With recent advances in printing technologies, the resilience to wear and tear is comparable and no longer an issue. If you adhere to your care instructions, you shouldn’t have any trouble with DTG apparel lasting.
  • The DTG process is more environmentally friendly. This process uses less water and the inks used can biodegrade.

The Use of Screen Printing Instead of DTG and the Advantages

  • Screen printing is still preferable for larger quantities (any run over 25). It is preferable if you’re limited to 2 to 3 colours. 
  • For printing a higher number of garments (25 or more… to 2,500 to 3, 000, as long as the same design, same colours) you want to look to screen printing. If you are preparing for a trade show, special promotions, or any event requiring a larger run.
  • For simple hard-edged illustration and design, the effect can be bold and striking, with more saturated colour than DTG, providing you can separate your files into layers of solid colour, and the artist does the detailed and accurate work required. 

Additional Considerations

With both screen printing and DTG, the “quality in / quality out” rule applies. With DTG it is all about the resolution and clarity of the original image. With screen printing, it is all about the mechanical accuracy of the files. Screen printing files can be more complicated to prepare, and the artist may be required to select colour codes that the printer needs to try to match with ink.

With DTG you control the colour with the use of contrasts, saturation, and other filters. With screen printing, it is more about the colour of the ink.

Whichever process is right for your needs, GetBold has the experts to guide you easily through the process and our service can offer the highest quality from both techniques.