Digital garment printing is better than screen printing


Why is Direct to Garment printing getting so popular

The main reason is that it is easy to do. There is no messy inks or chemicals involved in the process. Direct to garment printing is just like one giant ink jet printer the size of a volkswagon which can print on garments.

Set up problems

Traditional screen printing takes at least a couple hours to set up. The finished art has to be separated into each color in the design and a separate screen made for each color. This process is time consuming and is not friendly to small orders. This process has to be repeated for re-orders which again is a burden for small orders.

Digital to Garment printing involves loading the design into a drawing program and “ripping” the design. Ripping is the process to make the art work computer friendly to the printer. Once this process is completed it is stored in the data base and can be recalled each time the design will be printed.  The big advantage is that small orders are friendly to this technique for printing.

Order Size

Screen printing has to have a minimum number of garments to print to be cost effective Direct to
Garment printing the minimum order can be one piece.


Generally screen print orders are limited to 8 colors depending on the number of screens necessary to complete the design.

Direct to Garment there is no limit to the colors in the design. This is really an advantage when you have a real complex design with unlimited colors. DTG can offer CMYK color matching.

Advantages and disadvantages

Water based ink used in DTG printing is environmentally friendly. It meets all the consumer regulations for children under 12 years of age.

Screen printing uses plastisol inks which are not friendly to the environment. These inks are not approved for printing on youth shirts. The government has selected 12 years as the threshold for the new regulations.


In summary Direct to Garment printing is best for small orders with a wide range of colors.

Traditional screen printing can match colors for large runs and is cost effective for large orders. Generally orders over 72 pieces



About Erik Mickelson

Erik Mickelson is the author of Northwest Custom Apparel's blogs. Erik has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 1996 after graduating from Washington State University and is the founder of the Apparel Graphic Academy. Trained by the custom graphic apparel industry's best, Mark Venit, Erik brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Embroidery Adventure blog. As they say, 'Experience is the best teacher.' We are proud to have Erik as part of our team!