Direct to Garment vs. Screen Printing: Designing Shirts, Hoodies, and More
One of the first decisions designers need to make when starting a custom apparel business is how they will transfer their designs to plain hoodies, wholesale t-shirts and other garments and accessories. For many creative people, technical issues like figuring out which garment customization method is right for them can be a difficult and frustrating experience. There are several to choose from, and each has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Currently, two of the most popular methods are direct to garment (DTG) printing and screen printing. Whether you’re launching an online business or opening up a physical storefront, choosing the right one is the first step in ensuring long-term success. T-shirts and plain hoodies are great for DTG or screen printing, but determining which method to use isn’t always easy. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at DTG and screen printing and provide you with the information you need to choose the right method for your business.
What Is Direct to Garment Printing?
DTG printing is a method in which ink is sprayed directly onto a garment to create a design. Think of it like your inkjet paper, but, instead of printing on paper, it prints on fabric. This method is great for anyone who does a lot of one-offs because setup time is virtually non-existent.
The big downside, though, is DTG printers cost thousands of dollars, take up a lot of space, and are generally inaccessible to small business owners. In most cases, designers who choose DTG printing send their designs off to a third party for printing.
Because DTG allows you to create garments on-demand, it is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than other methods. Since it allows for affordable one-off and on-demand printing, there is no need to order customized apparel in bulk in hopes of selling it. You can print—or have someone else print—shirts and other garments as orders come in, which prevents overproduction and decreases waste.
DTG is ideal for photo-realistic designs and vibrant colors. There are almost no limitations in terms of color. It doesn’t work well for images not completely opaque, though, so this is an important design consideration in creating t-shirt artwork for direct-to-garment digital printing.
What Is Screen Printing?
Screen printing is a process by which designs are added to fabric by pushing ink through a mesh stencil known as a screen. Rather than soaking into the fabric like the ink used in DTG, screen printing ink sits on top of the fabric, resulting in a textured finish. While cost is a prohibitive aspect, in terms of DIY DTG printing, it is possible to start screen printing for just a few hundred dollars. Basic screen printing supplies are affordable, and you can always expand your setup as your business grows.
With this method, a screen needs to be custom made for every element of the design. Once they are made, they are used to apply colors and various design elements to the garment in layers. This takes a considerable amount of time, and the more layers you use, the thicker the design will feel on the finished product. For this reason, most screen printers stick to simple designs with no more than a few colors.
Due to the lengthy setup time associated with screen printing, the process is mostly used when items need to be printed in large quantities. It just is not cost-effective to print one or two shirts when stencils can take several hours to make.
With screen printing, there is a higher risk of overproduction. Figuring out how to remove print from a hoodie or t-shirt is tricky, so it’s hard to reuse garments that don’t sell. If the garments you print go unsold, they will likely make their way into landfills and contribute to already overwhelming pollution issues.
Which Is Better?
Source: Luis Santos/Shutterstock.com
When it comes to designing shirts, hoodies, and more, DTG and screen printing are both excellent options. If your designs are relatively simple and you’d like to handle the printing yourself, screen printing is likely your best bet—especially if you will be printing garments in bulk. If, on the other hand, your designs are colorful and detailed or you plan on printing in smaller quantities, DTG may be a better option.
Whichever option you choose, using wholesale t-shirts ensures you turn a profit while doing what you love. At The Adair Group, we have the wholesale garments you need. Browse our full selection today to find everything you need to get started.