When it comes to Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing, choosing the right T-shirt is a crucial factor in achieving high-quality, durable prints. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to determine the best T-shirts for direct to garment printing. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the important fabric factors that play a role in selecting the ideal T-shirt for your DTG business.
Get an expert's opinion: Garment Distributors
The easiest option to selecting the best T-shirts for direct to garment printing is to simply pick up the phone and call one of the many garment distributors and ask some questions. Companies like S&S Activewear, Sanmar, and Alpha Broder have dedicated account representatives that have vast knowledge of different garments and the best printing methods for them. Even if you don't have an account (and why wouldn't you?), they'll likely point you in the right direction.
You can also attend a garment decoration trade show such as the Impressions Expo or Graphics Pro Expo. Both of these shows move all around the country so there's a good chance one will be close enough for you to attend. The benefit of attending one of these trade shows is that you can not only talk one on one with the manufacturers and distributors, but you can also feel the garments themselves!
Ring-spun Cotton: The Best Fabric for DTG Printing
Ring-spun cotton is the preferred fabric for DTG printing due to its tight weave and soft texture. Unlike regular open ended cotton, which uses fibers twisted together to make yarn, ring-spun cotton undergoes a spinning process that softens and straightens the fibers for a smoother finish. This makes ring-spun cotton T-shirts last longer and produce the highest-quality prints with DTG printing. Since the surface is smoother, the inks from your direct to garment printer will be able to adhere to the garment better.
The Benefits of Combed Cotton for DTG Printing
For even better results, choose ring-spun combed cotton T-shirts for DTG printing. Combing the garment aligns the threads and removes any fibers that could affect the print quality. Some manufacturers also run the fabric through an enzyme wash to further remove any flyaway fibers. Anything you can do to get a
100% Cotton vs Blends: Which is Best for DTG Printing?
While many suppliers and manufacturers offer 50/50 polyester/cotton blended shirts that can produce good results with DTG printing, but in my opinion that's not the best option. The absolute best results will always come from 100% cotton T-shirts. The ink used in DTG printing is specially formulated to adhere to natural fibers, making 100% cotton the ideal choice. However, it is important to note that results will vary depending on the manufacturer and the specific blend used. Some triblends will give great results (depending on the manufacturer) since rayon and cotton are natural leaving only 33% polyester. In the end, it's best to find a blend you like to print on and stick with it unless you do more testing.
Challenges with Printing on 100% Polyester T-Shirts
DTG printing on 100% polyester T-shirts comes with some challenges, particularly when printing on dark shirts. While the industry is still working on finding a practical solution for printing on dark polyester, it is possible to achieve good results when printing on light-colored garments without the need for white ink. Some companies have pretreatment for polyester that can be used with varying results and RTP (Ready To Print) actually sells pre pre-treated polyester garments! Again, ask for samples to test before you announce to the world that you offer poly!
Consider Your Customers' Needs When Selecting the Ideal T-Shirt
Ultimately, the T-shirt you choose for DTG printing should meet your customers' needs in terms of look, feel and durability. You need to provide appropriate expectations to your customer. Consider the following questions when selecting the ideal garment for your customers:
- Does the garment meet my customer's needs?
- Am I able to print a good print that will hold up after washing?
- Do I need more time for testing on a particular garment?
- Does the garment meet my customer's budget requirements?
- Does the garment meet my production and turnaround time requirements?
In conclusion, choosing the right T-shirt for DTG printing is a critical factor in achieving high-quality, durable prints. Consider the important fabric factors, such as 100% ring-spun cotton and keep your customers' needs in mind when making your selection. With this guide, you'll be equipped to make an informed decision and select the ideal T-shirt for your DTG business.