Screen Printing vs. DTG Printing: Which is Right for Your Project?

Posted by Craft Tee Team on

deciding between screen and DTG

Introduction to Screen Printing and DTG Printing

In the world of custom apparel, two popular methods stand out: Screen Printing and Direct to Garment (DTG) Printing. At Craft Tee, we specialize in both, offering whichever solution will best meet your specific needs. 


Screen printing, a more traditional method, involves pushing ink through a woven mesh stencil onto fabric (yes, it’s as fun as it sounds!). DTG, on the other hand, is a newer technology that prints designs directly onto the garment using inkjet technology.

Screen Printing Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Durability: Screen printing inks are known for their durability and long-lasting quality.
  • Vibrancy: It produces vibrant colors, even on darker fabrics.
  • Cost-Effective for Bulk Orders: The more you print, the cheaper it gets, making it ideal for large orders.

Cons:

  • Setup Time and Cost: Each color requires a separate screen, increasing setup time and cost.
  • Limited Color Range: It's not the best for designs that require a wide range of colors or intricate detailing.
  • Not Ideal for Small Orders: Due to setup costs, it's less economical for small batches.

DTG Printing Pros and  Cons

Advantages:

  • Detail and Color: DTG excels at printing highly detailed designs with a wide color palette.
  • Flexibility: No setup required for each color, making it perfect for custom one-offs or small runs.
  • Quick Turnaround: Faster setup means quicker production times.

Limitations:

  • Costly for Large Orders: Per-unit cost remains relatively constant, making it expensive for bulk orders.
  • Ink Durability: While improving, DTG inks are not as robust as screen printing inks.
  • Fabric Limitations: Works best on 100% cotton and certain fabric blends.

Durability of Screen Printing vs. DTG

When it comes to durability, screen printing generally holds the upper hand. The ink in screen printing is absorbed deeper into the fabric, resulting in longer-lasting designs. DTG, while offering high-quality prints, can fade faster over time, especially with frequent washing.

Which Method is More Cost-Effective?

That depends primarily on your volume but also on your design’s complexity. In general screen printing is more economical for larger orders than for smaller orders, due to its one-time setup costs. DTG is cost-effective for smaller orders and designs with multiple colors, as it doesn't require the same setup for each color as screen printing does. For those needing a small number of shirts with a highly detailed, colorful design, DTG is most likely the more budget-friendly option.

DTG is The Best Method for Detailed Graphics

When it comes to intricate and complex designs, DTG printing stands out. It allows for a greater level of detail and a wider color spectrum, making it ideal for photorealistic images and designs with gradients or numerous colors. Screen printing, while excellent for bold and simpler graphics, may not be as effective for designs requiring high levels of detail or a large range of colors due to the limitations in screen preparation and ink application.

Turnaround Time of Screen Printing vs. DTG 

Turnaround time is a crucial factor in choosing between screen printing and DTG. Screen printing requires more upfront setup, especially for designs with multiple colors, leading to longer preparation times. On the other hand, DTG printing has a faster setup, as it directly prints the design onto the garment, making it suitable for quick turnarounds and tight deadlines, especially for small batches.

Which Method Suits Your Fabric Best?

The choice between screen printing and DTG also depends on the fabric type. Screen printing is definitely more versatile, working well on a wide range of materials including cotton, polyester, and blends. DTG printing, however, excels on 100% cotton materials. While it can still print on blends, the vibrancy and clarity are best on cotton.

Volume and Scalability

For large-volume orders, screen printing is typically more economical since the cost decreases more with scale. Clearly this makes it a preferred choice for bulk orders. DTG printing is a better choice for low-volume orders or individualized prints, as the cost per unit remains fairly constant regardless of the order size.

Making the Right Choice for Your Project with Craft Tee

Selecting the right printing method with Craft Tee depends on balancing factors like design complexity, fabric type, and order volume. But whether it was order size or design complexity, most likely you saw one or more dealbreakers for either screen printing or DTG and you’ve made your choice already! The next step is starting your order!


If it’s more complicated than that, please give us a call and we’ll have our team help you through the decision.

Partnering with Craft Tee for Your Printing Needs

At Craft Tee, we pride ourselves on offering both high-quality screen printing and DTG printing services to make the unique and eye-catching shirts you’re already seeing in your imagination. Our team is dedicated to helping you choose the best methodfor your project, ensuring top-notch results that will have you coming back for more. Whether you're creating custom apparel for your organization, event, or just to bring more style into your life, trust Craft Tee to turn your vision into reality and call us today.


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