If you’re starting a t-shirt printing business, you may be wondering about the differences between screen printing and DTG printing (direct-to-garment). They both have their advantages and disadvantages. Which method is best for your business depends on what you are looking for in terms of speed, quality, cost, and more. In this post, we’ll go over the pros and cons of both methods. By the end, you’ll be able to decide which is best for your company.
What Is Screen Printing?
Screen printing is a process that uses a stencil to apply ink to a substrate. It is the oldest form of printing, with evidence dating back to ancient Egypt and China. Screen print is used in many industries including music and sports.
In screen printing, the image you want to be printed is transferred from an image carrier (screen) onto a rubber blanket that holds the ink. The screen is then put into contact with your shirt or whatever you’re printing on and squeegeed across it. All while ink passes through openings in the screen. This allows you to create beautiful designs that can only be done by hand!
What Is DTG Printing?
DTG printing is a direct-to-garment printing process. DTG printers use inkjet technology to print on textiles, which can be done without the need for screens or stencils. This makes DTG printing more affordable than screen printing. It also allows for smaller businesses to get in on the action because of its portability and speed.
Take note though: DTG printers produce lower quality prints than their screen printing counterparts.
Speed Of Production - Screen Printing vs DTG Printing
One thing you’ll want to consider is the production speed of the two printing methods. Screen printing is ideal for high-volume orders. However, it’s not very fast when it comes to small runs and one-off designs. DTG printing, on the other hand, can be used for low volumes. DTG printing also performs great with complex designs like emblazoned logos or custom artwork.
If your studio relies heavily on short-run orders (for example shirts that need to be printed up before an event) then DTG may be better suited for you. Most of your customers might choose this option because they are able to get their garments produced quickly without sacrificing too much quality.
Equipment Maintainance - Screen Printing vs DTG Printing
It is important to note that the price of printing equipment will vary greatly depending on what you are looking for. For example, a DTG printer can cost anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000. A screen printing press is typically much more expensive and can run up to $50,000 or more. Additionally, because of the nature of screen printing presses and other equipment used for this process (such as plastisol inks), there is generally more maintenance needed than with DTG-printed garments. However, if you are looking to get into screen printing but don’t have the funds yet then we suggest starting off with a DTG printer until you’re able to save up enough money.
Materials And Labor Cost - Screen Printing vs DTG Printing
Both DTG and screen printing can be relatively expensive. However, there are different ways to look at them. It all comes down to your budget and where you want to spend the money.
You’ll need screen printing materials, including emulsion and mesh screens (more on those later) as well as ink. The cost of these depends on a variety of factors: what kind of material you’re using (water-based or solvent-based), how many colors do you need? How many shirts do you want printed at once? Etc.
Screen printers also rely heavily on skilled labor for their work. There are many steps involved in getting a shirt ready for its final print run. This includes prepping screens for each color and cleaning them between uses, loading ink onto the screen, transferring images onto t-shirts… the list goes on!
Color Variation And Changing Of Designs - Screen Printing vs DTG Printing
In terms of changing designs, DTG printing is much more efficient. If you need to make a last-minute change on your shirt, it’s easy to do so with DTG printing because there aren’t any screens involved.
With screen printing, you are limited by the number of colors that can be printed at once and the number of screens that have been created for each color. For example, if you have a black shirt and want to add another color in addition to black, then you will need to create new screens for both colors before printing again (or buy additional ones).
This makes it harder for shops like yours who are working with short-run jobs (orders less than 100 pieces). Printers don’t want to invest in creating lots of screens just for one job. Or deal with handling multiple orders at once when all they really want is one shirt!
What Materials Can Each Print Onto? - Screen Printing vs DTG Printing
Screen printing is appropriate for a variety of materials. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination. For example, you can print t-shirts, hats, bags, and other clothing items; posters and signs; mugs and glasses; phone cases; glassware (I have a screen printed beer mug from my former employer); laptop covers—the list goes on and on. In fact, most of the things you see around you that have been printed out are likely done via screen printing!
The majority of DTG printers can print onto just about any flat surface like paper or fabric (but not leather). However, they don’t work well with textured surfaces like wood or metal. While they will work with some plastics like PVC pipe or acrylics it isn’t recommended. They are hard to remove from them which could damage your printer head over time if done repeatedly.
Deciding between screen printing and DTG printing depends on your situation and which pros and cons you prioritize most
The bottom line is that deciding between screen printing and DTG printing depends on your situation. For example, if you’re a small business with a limited budget and low print volume, you might find that DTG printing is the most cost-effective option for you. If you run an online store and need to make sure all of your prints are identical, screen-printed shirts are going to be your best bet.
The best way to choose between screen printing and DTG printing is by figuring out what kind of customers you will have. If they’re mostly businesses or other large entities that need a lot of shirts, then definitely go with the former. However, if they’re individuals who want unique designs on their t-shirts, then you should invest in the latter. You might also want to consider offering both services because it would allow your customers more freedom when choosing which method of printing they prefer!