A brief history of Direct to Garment Printing (DTG)

The DTG printer is the more sophisticated cousin of your office’s inkjet printer and it pretty much works the same way.

The process is quite self-explanatory, basically the ink gets injected directly onto the material. The only difference being that instead of paper a DTG printer works on fabric.

dtg-printer-machineA Brief History of DTG

Compared to the millenary screen printing, DTG is a newborn baby in the world of apparel customization.

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.

dtg-page-bottomimageIntroduction of DTG

It wouldn’t be until 2004 that DTG was formerly introduced into the world. During the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) show that was being held in Minneapolis,Two companies US Screens and Mimaki introduced their prototypes. The model by US Screens was called T-Jet and it was based on a Japanese printer that had been designed to print onto 3D objects like blocks and wood and the one introduced by Mimaki was called GP-604. The new introductions had a great reception, but there was a problem: when the machines printed onto white, it looked amazing, but when they printed on a black garment, not so much. That’s because white ink hadn’t been invented yet.

Realising this problem, US Screen approached an ink manufacturer to develop white ink. In November 2005 the white ink was completed and US Screen got a one year exclusive contract with the manufacturer. It completely changed the way T-shirts were printed.