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Digital Direct-to-Garment and Silk Screen Printing

Printfection Blog

Rachel Martinez

August 4, 2010

So you’re ready to create some t-shirts but you’re not sure which method of printing you should go with? No worries mate, I’ve got you covered with a quick run-down on the pros and cons of each style dispelling information about quality and durability of both silk screen printing and digital direct-to-garment. Based on what you’re trying to accomplish you’ll find that one style might be more suitable than the other. Here are the dirty details on each option so that you can pick the right one for your swag…

What’s Screen Printing?

Screen printing uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil. The attached stencil forms open areas of mesh that transfer ink can be pressed through to create a sharp-edged image onto a shirt. A fill blade or squeegee is moved across the screen stencil forcing ink into the mesh openings for transfer during the squeegee stroke.

Pros & Cons of Silk Screen Printing

Screen Printing Pros

  • Common, you’ve probably seen and owned a silk screened shirt
  • Cost effective for large orders
  • Color matching i.e. exact match of your logo colors
  • Versatile placement of designs

Screen Printing Cons

  • Limited by designs and traditionally products
  • Not cost effective for lots of colors, designs or products
  • Longer turn around time
  • Specialized artwork/pantone colors

Direct-to-Garment Printing

Direct-to-Garment printing is a process of printing on shirts using specialized or modified inkjet technology. The two key requirements of a DTG printer are a transport mechanism for the shirt and specialty inks that are applied to the textile directly and are absorbed by the fibers.

Pros & Cons of Digital Direct-to-Garment

DTG Pros

  • Cost effective for lots of colors in the design/lots of different designs/products
  • Great for detail or photos
  • Quick turn around on an order
  • On-demand – no upfront investment
  • No specialized artwork required

DTG Cons

  • Not common – if you’re expecting silk screen and get DTG you may be surprised a bit by the print
  • Not cost effective for large orders
  • No color matching
  • Limited placement of designs

Now that you’re armed with the right printing choice for your swag, head on over to create t-shirts for your staff, or an upcoming event, or to giveaway directly to customers!

Rachel Martinez


  1. blanks wholesale clothing on August 5, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Well above all dye sublimation is the best i think, it gives a really high quality products. Have you ever tried that ?

  2. Libic Haris on August 19, 2010 at 10:58 am

    The screened sample looks much better when washed!

  3. Emily Bejach on September 8, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    This alternative method isn’t good for all situations, but it does seem like a really cool method for some prints. I’ll have to look more into this, thanks for the great ideas.

  4. David Duff on September 27, 2010 at 1:58 am

    It worked out perfectly!I’d love to see the t-shirt designs you create.

  5. Innovative Ink on February 9, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Love the article…keep up the great work guys..

  6. seansverige on February 16, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Interesting and useful article, thanks.
    One question – you state you’re simulating harshest conditions but you’re using a cold wash (BTW what is ‘cold’? 30°, 40°?). What about a colourfast cotton wash, i.e. 60°? I suspect the screen printed tee would hold up better (though prefer the idea of DTG printing)

    • caseyschorr on April 26, 2011 at 9:23 am

      To be honest, I’m not sure what the exact temp is of “cold” – but I assume about 50 degrees, which is pretty standard for when you turn your faucet all the way to “cold”. We’ll do some more tests at cold, warm, and hot washing conditions. Thanks for the feedback!

  7. Kyle on August 28, 2011 at 4:03 am

    Nice take of the pros and cons. About the business, the pros outweigh the cons.


  8. Scott on November 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Do either of the methods require you to print on certain kinds of t-shirts or to put it differently are there any kinds of t-shirts such as ones made of polyester that you can’t use one of the methods on?