Last Updated on September 4, 2021 by Ross Yamashita
Not familiar with the differences for (Direct To Garment) DTG Vs Screen Printing? This is undoubtedly a question we get asked quite often. However, unlike others who didn’t read our article, you’ll learn the 8 factors so you don’t get taken advantage of.
Firstly, keep in mind there are several different ways to customize t-shirts. But we’ll compare these two methods since they’re both very popular. Both techniques utilize different machinery and applications so it depends on your situation to see which is best.
In order to make things easier, we’ll go over specific factors and tell you which one is better.
- 1 DTG Vs Screen Printing – A Quick Guide
- 2 Price – Answer: Depends On Your Order
- 3 Low Quantity Orders – Answer: DTG
- 4 Vibrant Colors – Answer: Screen Printing
- 5 Hand – Answer: Both
- 6 Durability – Answer: Screen Printing
- 7 Production Time – Answer: DTG
DTG Vs Screen Printing – A Quick Guide
Before we go over the factors, let’s briefly describe each process.
Screen printing pushes ink through a screen onto a shirt. Because each screen can only have one color, it’s better for prints with lower amount of colors. Also, it is built for speed and can print several hundred shirts per hour.
Direct To Garment (DTG for short) is like your printer in your home or office. But instead of printing on paper, it prints onto a shirt. Like your printer at home, it can print full color pictures and graphics onto shirts. However, DTG is still somewhat young in technology so it takes much longer to print each shirt.
Okay, enough technical information – let’s get into the good stuff.
Price – Answer: Depends On Your Order
We know, we know. This is not the answer you particularly wanted. However, it really just depends what your job entails. Don’t worry, we’ll give you a general guideline below.
The three main factors to consider is:
- The number of colors
- The design of your shirt
- The quantity you’ll be printing
DTG Vs Screen Printing – Number Of Colors
Overall, screen printing prices are based off the number of colors you print. That is because we can print one color on one screen. So if you have 3 colors in your design, there will be 3 different screens. There are costs to reclaim, burn, process and set up each screen. So it basically comes down to the more colors you have in the design the more it’s going to cost.
Typically, anything up to the 5-6 color range will be good for screen printing. Although we can print up to 12+ colors per shirt, this won’t be economical unless you’re printing large quantities. Therefore, try to stay within 5-6 colors as a good guideline.
DTG Vs Screen Printing – Design Of Shirt
Generally, DTG pricing is based on the amount of ink used to print your shirt. The bigger the design, the more ink you use. Also, printing on black shirts uses more ink because we need to print a white underbase. This means your shirt will take two passes to print. That is, it will print the underbase white first, then a second time to print the colors. Being that it takes more ink, you’ll usually see full color designs printed on white shirts.
DTG Vs Screen Printing – Quantity
Finally, you need to look at quantity. Depending on the design, it can take a long time to set up a screen printing press. Obviously, the more colors you have, the longer it will take to set up. So it’s best to use screen printing for low color designs or larger orders.
The Bottom Line On Pricing
Keep in mind there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration. However, here is a general guideline:
- 1-2 color design and ordering under 24 pieces = DTG
- 1-2 color design and ordering more 24+ pieces = Screen Printing
- 3-5 color design and ordering and ordering under 36 pieces = DTG
- 3-5 color design and ordering 36+ pieces = Screen Printing
- 6-9 color design and ordering under 72 pieces = DTG
- 6-9 color design and ordering 72+ pieces = Screen Printing
- 10+ color design and ordering under 144 pieces = DTG
- 10+ color design and ordering 144+ pieces = Screen Printing
- Full color prints – most cases DTG unless you’re printing 288+ pieces
As I have noted, this is a general guideline for your reference. Factors such as size of design, artwork specifications and production schedules may change things. In any case, it’s always best to contact us so we can go over the specifics of your job with you.
Low Quantity Orders – Answer: DTG
We understand not everyone will order thousands of shirts for single orders. That is why we offer DTG so we can accommodate the smaller orders. Also, DTG is used for our Print On Demand (POD) services. In general, low quantity orders are printed with DTG. This is especially true when designs have lots of colors in them.
Vibrant Colors – Answer: Screen Printing
Direct To Garment pundits may argue our decision here. But again, this is based on several different factors. Don’t get us wrong – by all means you can get bright, vibrant prints with DTG. However, when it comes to vibrancy in general, there are more options available with screen printing. We can utilize “high opacity” inks that are brighter. Not to mention we can also use specialty inks that will help your design “pop.”
Hand – Answer: Both
Screen printing prints “on top” of the shirt whereas DTG prints into the shirt.
“Hand” is when you take a shirt and rub your finger over the print. Due to the different applications, there is a different feel. Remember, screen printing prints onto the shirt. So, when you rub your finer over the print it will feel “raised.” Whereas DTG prints into the shirt so when you rub your hand over it, you won’t have that raised feeling. This is referred to as a “soft hand.”
Albeit a lot of people don’t care one way or the other on this. But, if this is something that’s important to you, then be sure to talk to your printer about it. For instance, it areas that are hot, people may not like screen printing. That’s because when you sweat the shirt may “stick” to your skin. It’s always best to talk to your printer about your specific needs so they can help guide you.
Durability – Answer: Screen Printing
For the most part, when it comes to durability, screen printing has the edge. Both these methods, however, will start fading or cracking after being washed several times. But, in general, we find screen printed shirts will have more durability in the long run.
Production Time – Answer: DTG
Our standard production and turn-around time is 7-10 business days. However, if you have a small or rush order, DTG printing is perfect.
DTG Printing is perfect for one offs and small orders.
However, keep in mind we do run off a production schedule. Given that, don’t wait until the last minute to place your order whenever possible.
DTG printing is also used for Print On Demand (POD) printing.
Print On Demand printing is particularly used for fulfilling online store orders. We provide fulfillment for several online t-shirt and merch stores. When someone orders from one of those stores, the order details come to us. We then print and ship the order to our client’s customers without the customer ever knowing it came from us.
There’s undeniably loyalists on each side of the spectrum with regards to DTG Vs Screen Printing. Both methods have pros and cons you’ll need to consider before moving forward. Factors like your design, quantity and deadline dates all play a key role. Nevertheless, always communicate with your printer to go over the specifics of your order. But, armed with this information, you’ll have a good idea of the process which can save you money.
Contact us at (702) 664-1515 or email@example.com to get a quote for your custom t-shirt order today!