Date: February 5th, 2018 | Written by:

As you prepare to spend your hard-earned money or reinvest recent profit into commercial printing services for your apparel business or promotional t-shirts, the decision needs to be made whether or not to use traditional screen printing or to use print to garment printing, commonly referred to as direct to garment (DTG). Screen printing and direct to garment printing both yield high-quality prints, but where they differ is in their methods. Let’s dissect the differences between regular screen printing techniques and direct to garment printing methods to enable you to make the appropriate choice for your business purposes.

The Screen Printing Process

Screen printing has been the predominant technique used for garment decoration for over 100 years. Many advancements in ink, equipment, and photo-sensitive emulsion have occurred to keep the process reliable and repeatable. But how exactly is the screen printing process done? Screen printing involves pushing ink through a woven mesh stencil onto fabric. The ink enters through these stencil openings and pushed over the mesh, pulled by a fill blade or squeegee and onto the garment to form the design.

Pros of Screen Printing

For simple designs that contain a limited amount of colors, traditional screen printing is the way to go. If you are aiming for a large garment order, screen printing is more cost effective than direct print to garment printing because typically with regular screen printing, the more garments you order to have printed, the cheaper the order becomes because once it is set up, each individual print takes a short period of time.

Cons of Screen Printing

Screen printing is a technique that only allows for one color to be applied at a time. What this means is that the number of colors on a t-shirt or sweatshirt is limited, each layer demands more time, and another screen and stencil. This is why screen printing is a great method for simple designs with very few solid colors. Traditional screen printing is not cost effective for multiple color prints, requires a large upfront investment, one design per batch, and designs with simple shapes.

The Direct to Garment Process

With direct to garment printing, a printer directly applies the ink directly onto the garment in the desired design. DTG uses special inks that are absorbed by the fibers of the garment. Since the DTG printer is precise like the printers we use to print photos, you can print images in much higher detail than screen printing.

Pluses of Direct to Garment (DTG)

DTG is a smart choice if you don’t have a lot of money because each t-shirt can be ordered separately. Now you won’t have to guess how many of each size to order or have a huge amount of excess inventory sitting around.  Along with the minimal upfront investment, direct to garment printing also offers the ability to print detailed designs and photographs and extensive color options.

Minuses of Direct to Garment (DTG)

The problems that arise with direct to garment printing as opposed to traditional screen printing is that DTG is definitely not the cost-effective choice when you need to print extremely large batches. Also, DTG printing ink takes to fabrics in different ways and to varying degrees, and the location of the garment where the design can be placed is limited.


Launchmark Printing Department
Springfield, Fairfax County, Northern Virginia
Call: 703-879-8654
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