Debunking The 5 Myths of Direct to Garment (DTG) Printing

  • Feb 19, 2019

DTG printing has been in the garment printing business for the past many years. Though the first DTG printer was introduced in 1996, it was not until 2004 that DTG became a standard garment printing method. Since then, it has become one of the popular printing methods for printing designs and custom patches for clothes.

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At the same time, DTG has attracted many myths over the past many years. This article will debunk some of those myths and explain why they are not completely true:

 

1. White Ink Clogs

While clogging is an issue when using white ink, it is not associated with the DTG printing and instead caused by the technical glitches, environmental factors, and improper maintenance of the machine. White ink tends to settle down in the print head which creates bubbles that block the nozzle. This is why you need to agitate the ink so that it retains the pigment. But this is not always the case. Sometimes, the debris in the printer clogs the print head and stops the flow of ink.

But since the new white ink has suspended solids, the occurrence of separation has significantly decreased, and hence the clogging is no longer an issue unless there are contaminants in ink.

However, the factors like improper maintenance, extreme weather conditions, and improper handling of the printer are still the culprits. In fact, extreme weather condition is among the most common causes of ink clogging. 

To get the best results from white ink, it is essential that you operate the printer in a room with at least 40% of humidity. Too much low humidity causes the ink to dry, while extreme fluctuation in temperature heats up the print head. In other words, the issue of ink separation has more to do with external factors mentioned above than the white ink.

 

2. DTG Works Only On Cotton Fabric

While it is true that DTG gives its best results on cotton and cotton-blended fabrics, they are not the only materials that work with this type of printing. So the notion that DTG doesn’t work with polyester is not true. The only glitch is printing the colors on a polyester garment as the dye on the polyester cloth blends with the ink of printer which changes the color of the design.

But that’s not the case with dark fabric, and you can create any print n a dark polyester garment with the help of pretreatment and drying. 

To sum up, some polyester fabric is indeed printable with DTG, and we hope that the technological advancements will also make it possible to print the other types of polyester with custom patches in the future.

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3. The Washability of a DTG-Printed Garment Is Not as Good as a Screen-Printed Garment

That’s not entirely true. Actually, it is more of a matter of ink than the printing method. Screen printing method uses plastisol ink that creates a strong layer on the print which in turn increases the life of the print, whereas a DTG printer uses water-based ink which loses its life after several washes. But even if the water-based ink is applied to a screen-printed garment, the result will be no different.

Besides, the washability issue is also related to poor pre-treatment and curing process. A properly pretreated and cured DTG print will not easily lose its life and will certainly last longer.

 

4. DTG Cannot Be Used for Large Batches

Well, this is a subjective topic. Let’s put it like that. If you are a screen printer and you are going to complete a consignment of 100 different t-shirts with different designs and colors, it will take much longer time than what would you spend on 100 t-shirts with the same design and color.

But when it comes to DTG printing, you have the option to print different designs and colors without changing the printing apparatus every now and then. This means faster production and lesser lead time. Today, the printers are using multiple DTG printers to produce a design which significantly increases the production of garment design and minimizes the cost of ink.

Besides, the screen printing takes more time and money due to higher setup cost and demanding equipment that need constant maintenance. And as technology is getting better with every passing year, we can expect that DTG might as well become a printing solution for larger batches.

 

5. DTG Ink is Too Costly to Earn a Profit

This is again a subjective thing. While DTG ink is expensive compared to a screen printing ink, there is a marked difference in the operational cost between the two. With screen printing, you have to bear the overheads of running the different apparatus of screen printing that includes chemicals, screens, and film, etc.

All these extra accessories add to the aggregate cost of production and indirectly affect the price of a single print. Besides, there is additional time and money that go into the preprinting stage and post-printing stage of the entire process.

On the other hand, a DTG process doesn’t require any such hassles. All you need is a DTG printer and a conveyor dryer if you are printing larger runs of the garment. And that’s it. No lengthy setup mechanism and no post-printing hassles.

Besides, the ink will cost between $0.5 to $2 depending on the garment which is not too much of an investment. To put it simply, you will incur a similar cost compared to what you bear in screen printing.

 

These are some of the common myths associated with DTG printing. But the million-dollar is: 

Does this garment printing method worth your money?

Well, it depends on your business model and the size of your printing facility. While screen printing is still a safer bet for larger batches, DTG still needs some time to meet the technical, operational and financial requirements to match with the needs of the large-scale garment printing facility. However, we can hope that the technological advancements in DTG printing methods will soon overcome these barriers.

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