Wish to print bright, colourful custom t-shirts? There are two processes for doing so. One is through the traditional screen printing method. The other is through the modern Direct to Garment (DTG) printing or digital printing method. While both methods are effective for apparel, it can be a bit confusing for consumers to determine which printing technique works best for their needs.
Screen printing is a century-old art that has evolved over the years with progressing technology. Digital printing is a new-age version of screen printing but the difference is that the digital process allows designs to be downloaded from the computer and transferred directly on the t-shirt to be printed in a process called DTG printing.
A stencil is used for screen printing to apply layers of ink on the material. A different stencil needs to be used for each colour, in a meticulous process, done one at a time. It is the preferred option for vibrant designs on t-shirts with a dark background or specialty products. The ink used is thicker, which makes the colours are more vivid. It can be applied on a wide range of surfaces beyond flat apparel surfaces, such as curved and uneven mugs or bottles.
Digital printing also integrates multiple colour palettes. This means printers can create virtually anything they wish to. But digital printing can only be done on 100% cotton apparel, unlike screen printing that allows more flexibility. It can be applied to nearly any material.
The method of printing between the two has a marked difference. Digital printing is processed by a computer and directly printed on the surface of the product to be printed on, not through heat transfer or applique technique used in screen printing.
The water-based ink is thinner than the one used in screen printing, so it can be used for artwork that requires finer details. It is applied in a single layer that absorbs easily into the soft t-shirt fibres without soaking the fabric as it does in screen printing so the result is high-quality and defined. It is better suited for apparel with darker colours or so the design is prominent.
But since it is processed digitally in smaller batches, it does not require a physical setup as screen printing does. It works more like an inkjet printer that’s used in homes where the printing machine simply transfers the digital graphic on a blank t-shirt. As a result, DTG printing is perfect for individual projects such as theme parties, team uniforms and thank you gifts.