DTG Vs. Dye Sublimation Printing: What’s Your Call?

  • Dec 9, 2019

Digital printing has come of age to become a mainstream printing method. DTG and dye sublimation are two common techniques of digital printing. These two printing methods make use of modern digital mechanism to produce prints on different kinds of surfaces.

Today, we will learn about DTG and dye sublimation printing processes and analyze the different facets of these two printing methods.

 

DTG Printing

DTG Printing is one of the most common forms of printing. DTG printing is based on conventional inkjet printing method which was introduced in 1968. However, it took a while for this printing method to penetrate into printing industry. It was in 1996 when first DTG printer was launched and the printing industry got familiarized with this new type of printing. It became a widespread printing method by 2000s.

However, DTG printing has certain pros and cons that make it a good printing method for one printer and bad for the other. Let’s find out some of the major pros and cons of DTG printing:

 

Pros

 

It Can Print Complex Designs

The biggest upside of DTG printing is that you can print intricate designs using this printing method. Just like paper printing, you can produce any type of design with help of DTG no matter if it is a multi-layered image or fancy logos or custom patches that have multiple shapes.

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It Requires Less Operational Space

It is easier to setup a DTG printing facility as compared to dye sublimation. You can start a DTG printing facility right from your living room. There is not many paraphernalia that comes with this form of printing method which saves you plenty of space.

 

It Can Produce a Print in Full Colors

DTG printing can produce any color on your garment without increasing its cost which makes it a more viable printing option for small businesses. Whether you want to print a big design on a hoodie that has various colors or imprint custom made patches using range of different hues, DTG can print highly vibrant colors in little cost.

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Cons

 

The Prints Have Shorter Life

Since a DTG print is layered on top of a garment, the prints are not lifelong and fades after a certain number of washes. In a sublimation process, on the other hand, the dye is absorbed into the fibers and becomes a permanent part of the fabric.

 

DTG Printing Cannot Work for Large Runs of Prints

DTG printing is only suitable for small printing jobs due to costly water-based inks that are used in the process. Therefore, if you want to print dozens of garments using DTG, then it is not the best printing option since it will increase the cost of a single print and will add to aggregate cost of your printing.

 

It Prints Only On 100% Cotton

The biggest downside of DTG printing is that you can only print on 100% cotton fabric or its blends. While it is possible to print on dark polyester garment but the result is not what you get on a cotton garment.

 

Let’s now discuss dye sublimation along with its advantages and disadvantages.

 

Dye Sublimation

Dye sublimation, or sublimation printing, is another popular printing method that makes use of heat to apply an artwork onto a substrate. Dye sublimation works in two stages. The first stage is getting an artwork on a sublimation paper which is the print carrier that convert the design onto the substrate. 

The second stage is transferring the artwork on sublimation paper using an endothermic process which changes a solid dye into gas and it then permeates into fibers of the fabric.

 

Now, we will check out the major upsides and downsides of this form of sublimation printing.

 

Pros

 

The Print is Durable

Unlike DTG printing, the dye on a sublimated paper is transferred onto the polymers of a substrate which makes the print more durable. As a result, the design stays with the substrate for as long as the substrate is intact. This is why it is a more durable printing method than DTG.

 

You Can Print On Multiple Surfaces

The most significant difference between dye sublimation and DTG is that the former can print an artwork on practically all different types of surfaces such as mug, ball or a squared photo frame. With this printing method, you can imprint a design on common items like garments, ceramics, acrylics and signage to name a few. This is not the case with DTG printing as it only creates a print on a cloth or garment surface as suggested in its name i.e. direct to garment.

 

There Is Little Setup Cost

Setting up a dye sublimation facility is significantly cheaper as compared to DTG. While there is less paraphernalia in a dye sublimation printing, the costs of equipment are much higher than sublimation printing. A good DTG printer will cost you between $16000 to $20000, whereas a heavy-duty dye sublimation printer comes at a price range $1500 to $2500 which is almost ten times cheaper than a DTG printer.

 

Cons

 

It Prints Only on White or Light Colored Fabric

The biggest downside of dye sublimation is that it doesn’t print on dark substrates. It works best with white or pastel tones. So you can have issues printing on dark substrates that require printing of dark shades.

 

It Is Applicable Only On Polyester Fabric

When it comes to garment printing, dye sublimation is only applicable on polyester fabric and its blends. Printing on cotton or other fabrics can result in muted, vintage or dull print. Just as you cannot get vibrant print on a non-cotton fabric with DTG printing, you cannot expect an eye-popping sublimated print on a non-polyester garment.

 

It Is Not Suitable for Large Runs of Prints

Dye sublimation is a slow printing process which makes it a less suitable printing option for large batches of prints that involve complex designs. In other words, it is not a perfect printing solution for industrial printers who run dozens of printing jobs on a daily basis.

Over to You…

Both DTG and sublimation printing are popular digital printing method. They share few features on some grounds, while differ on others. However, they are not the best printing methods for larger print jobs and should only be considered for small runs of prints. The ultimate decision to use a printing method among the two depends on your specific requirements. So make your decision wisely.

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