Direct-to-Garment (DTG) for Print-on-Demand

Let's talk about one of the most popular printing methods for print-on-demand: Direct to Garment (DTG).

T-Shirt printed with DTG

Direct to Garment (DTG) Basics

Like its name says, DTG allows us to print a full color image directly on the fabric. As this method has no minimum quantity, it's perfect for printing just one shirt!

In the DTG printing process, we first spray a layer of pretreat onto a blank shirt (Pretreat is a liquid primer that lets the ink bind permanently to the shirt's cotton fibers). Then, we dry the pretreat with an industrial heat press. This also flattens the shirt to make it a better printing surface.

The shirt is loaded onto the printer's platen and the print operator starts the machine. White underbase ink is sprayed on the shirt, then CMYK ink is sprayed on top to render the full-color image.

The shirt is then loaded onto a conveyor dryer and heated to cure and bond the printed image permanently on the T-shirt.

After the shirt cooled down, it's folded, packed, and shipped directly to your customer.

Benefits of DTG

Here are the benefits of Direct to Garment printing:

• There's no minimum quantity - you can print just one tee with DTG.

• DTG can print all types of graphics - color photographs, logos, and digitally drawn images can all be printed in high quality, with sharp fine lines and vibrant colors (and yes, even bright primary colors). Unlike screen printing, there's no limitations on the number of colors with DTG.

DTG-printed shirts Examples of T-shirts printed with DTG. Artists: Snouleaf, Hillary White, and Edu Ely.

• DTG can print images with thin, fine lines and distressed or splatter effects.

• DTG can print images with semi-transparent areas and soft edges (such as fades, drop shadows, glows and smoke effects).

Fine lines, fades, splatter and smoke effects printed with DTG Fine lines, fades, glows, splatter and smoke effects printed with DTG. Artists (clockwise starting at top left): byhqartwrk, Area31Studios, Shawn Porter, and edsonramos.

Special Consideration for DTG

All printing methods have their pros and cons, and DTG is no exception. Below are some considerations for printing with DTG:

  • DTG can only print on cotton T-shirts (preferably 100% cotton tees)
  • When washed and dried as instructed, DTG printed shirts can last a long time. But as DTG is a surface print, washing the shirt with harsh detergents (such as high efficiency detergents, as well as those with added enzymes or peroxide like OxiClean) can damage the image.