Direct to Garment (DTG) printing is a popular method for small businesses to create custom t-shirts, and for good reason. It's a cost-effective and efficient way to produce high-quality prints with minimal startup costs. In this guide, we'll go over everything you need to know about DTG printing, from the equipment and materials needed to tips for incredible direct to garment printing.
A. What is Direct to Garment (DTG) printing? DTG printing is a digital printing process that uses specialized inkjet technology to print designs directly onto a garment. Unlike traditional screen printing, DTG printing doesn't require the use of screens or stencils, making it a more flexible and cost-effective option for small businesses.
B. Benefits of DTG printing for small businesses are numerous. DTG printing is an excellent option for small businesses (especially POD fulfillment) for several reasons. It's a cost-effective option for low-volume orders, and it's also a more efficient process than traditional screen printing. Additionally, DTG printing allows for full-color designs and photographic images, which can be difficult to achieve with other printing methods, particularly screen printing.
Equipment and Materials
A. DTG printers use specialized inkjet technology to print designs directly onto a garment. When choosing a DTG printer, it's important to consider factors such as print quality, print speed, and maintenance costs. Some popular DTG printer models include the Epson SureColor F2100 and F30700, the Brother GTX Pro, and the Ricoh Ri 6000.
B. DTG ink is specially formulated to work with the inkjet technology used in DTG printers. It's important to use high-quality ink that is specifically designed for DTG printing in order to achieve vibrant and long-lasting prints. Some popular DTG ink brands include InkJetCarts, J-Teck3, and SpectraDTG. That said, many DTG printer’s warranties will only stay active if you use the prioprietary inks from the printer’s brand.
C. In addition to a DTG printer and ink, you'll also need a few other materials to get started with DTG printing. These include a heat press, pretreater, pre-treatment solution, and a high-quality cotton or cotton-blend t-shirts. It's also a good idea to have a few other supplies on hand, such as a cleaning solution, replacement parts, and a maintenance kit for your printer. Most manufacturers have exhaustive documentation on how to maintain your DTG printer.
The DTG Printing Process
A. Preparing the design Before you can begin printing, you'll need to prepare your design. This includes converting the design to a digital format, such as a PNG or JPEG file, and ensuring that the design is the right size and resolution for your printer. It's also important to consider the colors and details of your design, as these can affect the final print quality.
B. Preparing the garment Once your design is ready, you'll need to prepare the garment for printing. This includes pre-treating the shirt with a special solution that helps the ink adhere to the fabric. It's important to use a high-quality cotton or cotton-blend t-shirt, as these materials absorb the ink better than synthetic fabrics.
C. Printing and curing After the shirt and design are prepared, you can begin the printing process. This involves loading the shirt onto the printer and printing the design directly onto the garment - it's fairly straight forward aside from making sure the garment is lined up correctly. Once the printing is complete, the shirt needs to be cured, typically with a heat press or DTG tunnel dryer, to set the ink and ensure that it will not wash out or fade.
Tips for Successful DTG Printing
A. Choosing the right design When it comes to DTG printing, the design is everything. It's important to choose designs that are simple, have limited colors and have high resolution, as these will yield the best results. Avoid designs with gradients, fine details or a lot of color variations, as these can be difficult to print with DTG printing.
B. Properly caring for DTG printed garments To ensure that your DTG printed garments last as long as possible, it's important to properly care for them. This includes washing them in cold water and avoiding the use of bleach or fabric softener. It's also a good idea to tell your customers to turn the shirt inside out before washing to protect the print. While it's not necessary, the image will fade less over time with this technique.
C. Common mistakes to avoid There are a few common mistakes that people make when it comes to DTG printing. One of the most common is using low-quality or the wrong type of ink. In fact, if you have a warranty on your DTG printer, you can void it by using 3rd party inks. It's important to use high-quality ink that is specifically designed for your DTG printer in order to achieve vibrant and long-lasting prints. Another mistake is not properly preparing the garment for printing, such as not lint rolling the garment or pretreating it properly, which can result in poor print quality or the ink not adhering properly to the fabric.
DTG printing is a cost-effective and efficient option for small businesses to create custom t-shirts. By understanding the equipment and materials needed, the printing process, and tips for successful printing, you'll be able to create high-quality prints that will impress your customers. With a little bit of knowledge and practice, your incredible Direct To Garment printing will make your customers happy and ready to come back for more.