What is Direct to Garment Printing?
Direct to garment printing is a little similar to the way you might print regular colour documents at home, except the printer is 10 times the size, and instead of paper we put in garments. We have chosen this method and use only water based inks as it is the most eco friendly and ethical way to print.
By using this method, we can also produce multi coloured, high detailed prints that might otherwise be impossible with traditional printing methods. We can also cater to small orders, and with no minimum order quantity we are an affordable, low risk option for small businesses and start-ups.
Direct to Garment Design Examples
Because we only use water based inks, there is absolutely no residue left on the surface of the garment. The ink soaks into and dyes the actual fabric, rather than sitting on top like plastic based inks, leaving the item super soft and meaning the design will not crack over time. Naturally, all garments age over time, but water based, digital printing will simply age with the garment, not before it.
Direct to Garment Process
First we prepare the image for printing. We use additional software to make sure that the colours we print onto the garment are as close to the colours on screen. This is why it is really important that you provide us with good quality image. Our printer prints at such a high quality, that if you provide a design that is blurred or pixelated, then this is exactly how it will print out. You can get some advice on how to to get the best from images here.
We do not treat the garments with any chemicals before printing. They go straight into the printer, and the designs is printed just like you would expect your home printer to do. This is why our pricing system is based on size rather than number of colours. The bigger the print, the longer it takes. A full print could take up to 4 minutes to print per item.
Once the print is finished, the ink will still be wet. As these are water based inks, we could technically leave them to air dry, but when we’re putting together an order of 500 t-shirts, space would be an issue. To speed up the process we use an automatic heat press which dries the garment in 30 seconds, meaning we can starting piling them up, ready to be boxed and shipped.
So what can’t direct to garment do?
Every style of printing has it’s pro and cos, making different styles suitable for different things. While Direct to garment ticks most boxes, and is far superior for things like multi coloured, high detailed prints, there are a few things we don’t recommend it for.
If you’re wanting designs on black or dark t-shirts, then this probably isn’t the way to go. It would require a layer of thicker, white ink to be printed before the design, and although we have the capability of printing with white ink we choose not to. To print with white ink would require the introduction on a PVA based solution to pre-treat garments and as we strive to be as eco friendly as possible, this is something we choose not to do. We also feel that the print quality of DTG printing using a white base just is not that great, because like with plastic based inks, you can feel the print on the fabric (almost tacky to the touch) and will not last the tests of times like regular direct to garment prints.
The colour range on white or light t-shirts is incredible, but we would also like to note that if you’re looking for a very very black on a white garment, you’ll also maybe want to look at another method of printing. Again, you can achieve this darkness by using inks that sit on top of the fabric, but these mostly involve plastic based inks.
Water based inks are affected by the colour of the garment they’re being printed onto, so to give you an idea of how your design might look, here is the same design printed on multiple colours. The text ‘WHITE’ is to show what any white parts of your design will look like.
For a limited time, we are offering new customers a free sample to show just how good the print quality of garments can be. If you would like to request one just click here and we’ll happily oblige.