DTG or direct to garment printing on wholesale t-shirts and other blank apparel uses a digital printer. Just like printing out a document on a piece of paper, DTG printing sprays ink onto the garment. The ink will then soak into the fibers and create an awesome printed tee, custom hoodie, or any garment you like. Basically you can print in full color using water-based CMYK(refers to cyan, magenta, yellow, and key or black) on a light or white fabric. DTG works for printing on colored apparel as well by utilizing an added white-ink for colored basic tees. Although direct-to-garment printing can set you back a bit financially for a quality printer, DTG printing is ideal for full color prints with extra fine detail. DTG is especially great for apparel designs with short turnaround times or short runs. I should say that exact Pantone® color matching is not always possible with direct to garment printing.
Pantone Color Trends Spring/Summer 2023
STEP 1: READY YOUR WHOLESALE BLANK SHIRT
You will usually want to prepare your blank t-shirt or garment with a pre-treatment solution. Essentially this is a garment primer used to create strong bonds between the ink and the fabric. While this is a necessary step for all dark colored apparel, this can be optional for light or white tees and apparel. The printer you have will determine whether this primer is applied by hand or by the printer itself.
STEP 2: START PRINTING
If you are familiar with t-shirt and apparel printing you will undoubtedly know what a platen is. But for the newbies, the platen is simply a plate that keeps the garment flat and smooth to ensure the best quality print. Start by loading your artwork into the RIP software which then will convert it into a CMYK file. What this software does is rip the design into a uni-directional 1,200 x 600 dpi file. Then the file is sent to the printer, it is really that easy.
The only difference between DTG printing on light vs dark apparel is the printer will lay down a white underbase first on dark fabric.
STEP 3: CURE THE INKS
After you have successfully printed the image on your best basic tee, you will need to cure the ink or inks. This is a necessary step so that your logo or custom artwork is a durable and permanent image.
Curing here just means heating, which commonly is done with a heat press. But you can also use a conveyor oven (dryer) or a special drawer-based cabinet oven (dryer) as well. If using a heat press though, don’t forget to place a piece of parchment paper in between to protect the printed image. Heat times will depend on the DTG printer you have as well as the type of garment you are printing on(100% cotton, 50/50 cotton/poly etc.) The cure can also be affected by the humidity in the fabric.
- Screen printing is generally more complicated and requires more knowledge than DTG printing. So this is a great apparel printing method for beginners or anyone wanting to simplify things. There are less steps than screen printing as well as less floor space used and less chemicals needed.
- The best garments for DTG printing will be 100% cotton shirts, and it’s even better if they are combed and ringspun. Combed and ringspun cotton is better quality with a smoother surface and thus creates better prints. Don’t get me wrong though, you can absolutely direct to garment print on blended tees but it can be more difficult sometimes.
- Always use a high resolution for your artwork and designs. The recommended minimum resolution for your artwork is 300 dpi at full size. If you decide to DTG print with low resolution artwork don’t expect the best results. It may still turn out ok but just why?
- Now if you just bought t-shirts and apparel in bulk for custom printing, it’s a good idea to do a pre-test. Pre-test the exact blank hoodie or shirt or whatever you will be printing on. The necessary parameters for direct-to-garment printing can change between different colors and fabrics.
- For that perfect flat and smooth surface before you print, use a heat press on your blank apparel. This always delivers great results!
THINGS TO CONSIDER
Dye migration is definitely something you want to avoid or minimize as much as possible. This is when the dye from your shirt is absorbed into the ink of your print. But this is more of an issue with 100% polyester and blends.
Heard of ghosting? “Ghosting” occurs when you stack your freshly printed shirts or apparel on top of eachother too soon. When they still need to dry and cool down longer. This often results in a ghosted image on the back of each shirt.
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