Screen printing and Direct to Garment printing are two of the most common fabric printing and design techniques on the market these days. They didn’t get there by mistake too.
Being able to handle a huge variety of design and printing jobs between themselves, it is no wonder why they have earned such a position. However, an issue arises when both printing techniques are not being compared against others on demand, but one another.
To be candid, there is a lot of sense in doing this if you are to get the best value for your money. We have put up this piece to examine both printing models under different headings. This should better inform you and help make a good decision when ordering for your next batch of custom fabrics.
For an introduction to both concepts, you can check out our resources on screen printing and direct to garment printing.
The average set up time per job for screen printing is way higher than what is obtainable on DTG. Stencils would have to be developed, screens prepared and inks mixed for the right shades. That is not to mention the planning of labor for application of ink onto the mesh-stencil surface.
On the DTG end of things, a designer can start up a job with as little as zero minutes of set up time. With a digital file in hand for the design, printing can commence in earnest.
Due to factors such as set up time, shops would have to impose a minimum order requirement on clients so that they break even.
Since such setup times are eliminated on DTG, you won’t have to worry about meting a minimum order requirement before your order gets processed. This puts DTG printing options in a better position to handle small orders (even individual requests) for a lesser cost.
For all the goodies that DTG promises, there is limitation on what type of fabric the procedure can work upon. If the material does not contain at least, 50% of cotton, it would be unwise to pass it through DTG printing.
That gives screen printing an added benefit. In fact, silk, polyester and viscose materials can have screen printing done on them.
DTG, being digitally-aided, has up to 16 million colors at its beck and call. Screen printing beats this in offering different ink thicknesses and color tones/ variations. Overall though, DTG comes out tops in being able to apply multiple colors to the same surface without driving up the production costs.
Let’s face it – digital designs will be more flexible than stenciled alternatives. That is why designers will usually be able to attempt more complex designs with a DTG model than they might be willing to do on stenciled screens.
Not that the latter is impossible, but you might be setting yourself up for even higher costs.
Looking for bulk orders? You will be better off with screen printing. While DTG might excel for shorter production runs, the costs add up to make it impractical in the long run.
It would be unfair to pick one method over the other and declare them the winner in the printing game. From the above, it is clear that both methods excel in different regions of operation. Thus, the best one, per se, would be a function of what you want to get done in the first place.