Compared to the millenary screen printing, DTG is a newborn baby in the world of apparel customization. We take a close up look at the printing technique that revolutionised the T-shirt manufacturing industry: direct to garment printing.
The history of DTG starts with inject printers which takes us back to the 50’s when experts first started to develop the technology. It wasn’t until the mid 80’s though that the technology first became available for the public. The reason why it took so long to hit the market was because they couldn’t figure out a way for the heads not to become clogged with dry paint. Eventually they did and work places where never the same again.
It wasn’t long until some wondered if it would be possible to print onto something other than paper. Fabrics and T-shirts manufacturers were particularly interested since they were looking into optimising the printing of garments. By this time, screen printing was automated, but it had its limitations.
- Great for “on demand” production, because the setup costs are the same for one garment
- Great image quality by being able to recreate intricate details
- Easy to use — there’s no mayor learning curve involved
- It is able to print the full spectrum of colours
- Simple production as it doesn’t require that many steps
- Uses safe materials such as water-based inks
- It is a clean process when compared to screen printing which requires considerable amounts of water and ink
- DTG printers are expensive. The top of the line Kornit Hexas are $350,000 each.
- Not optimal for large orders since the printing process can be slow and production costs stack up
- Inks are delicate
- Doesn’t work on all types of T-shirts — garments used for DTG must have at least 50% cotton so it absorbs the pigments in the way it is supposed to.
- The video below shows you the Kornit Hexa in action at Northwest Custom Apparel.
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