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How Screen Printing Outperforms DTG in Apparel Printing

Whether you’re an entrepreneur with an eye on launching a brand, a freelancer looking to make a name for yourself in the custom apparel business, or an artist longing to showcase your creativity on a new canvas, selecting the right printing method is critical for success. With so many options available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, especially when deciding between traditional screen printing and digital direct-to-garment (DTG) printing. This article will break down the pros and cons of each technique, as well as provide tips to help you determine which works best for your custom apparel business.

How Screen Printing Outperforms DTG in Apparel Printing

Screen printing, also known as silk screening or plastisol printing, is an ancient printing method that uses stenciled inks to imprint designs on a variety of fabrics. The process starts by coating a screen with light-sensitive photo emulsion, then placing your image on top of the emulsion. Once the design is in place, the screen is run through a machine that presses ink into the stenciled area of the fabric. The ink is absorbed by the cotton fibers and creates a lasting, durable print.

While digital printers can produce a wide range of colors and gradients, screen printing offers superior results when it comes to spot colors and artistic effects. Traditional screen printing can also accommodate intricate details and textured patterns that can’t be achieved with DTG printers.

The durability of screen prints is another key advantage over DTG garments, as the inks used in this type of printing are thicker and more substantial. As a result, they hold up better to washing and wear, making them ideal for team jerseys, work uniforms, and promotional merchandise. On the flip side, DTG prints may fade or crack over time, particularly when a high-density print is applied to a stretchy or fitted garment.

Another benefit of traditional screen printing is its cost-effectiveness when compared to DTG pricing. Unlike DTG, which charges by the unit, screen printing is priced per screen, so the price of each shirt decreases as the number of screens increases. This makes it a great option for businesses with high-unit orders, such as dropshipping or print on demand companies.

DTG Pricing: Putting the Purse Strings to the Test

In contrast, DTG printing is more cost-effective for one-off or low-unit orders. DTG printing uses a water-based ink that’s sprayed onto the garment, then cured using a heat press. It can be applied to almost any type of fabric, but is most commonly used on 100% cotton or cotton blends. Before printing, a pretreatment solution is often applied to the fabric to improve ink absorption and prevent fading. Once the ink is applied, the garment is loaded onto a print platen and the print is ready to go within a matter of minutes. To learn more about printing and its application visit your local Minneapolis print shop.

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