Understanding Direct-to-Garment Printing: The Pros and Cons – Denver Print Company

Understanding Direct-to-Garment Printing: The Pros and Cons

Direct-to-garment printing, or DTG printing, is a process that allows you to print directly on fabric. This can be done using a special printer that prints the design directly onto the fabric or using a heat press to transfer the image. DTG printing has become increasingly popular in recent years because it offers many advantages over traditional methods of textile printing. However, there are also some disadvantages to consider before deciding if DTG is right for your business. In this blog post, we will explore the pros and cons of direct-to-garment printing so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not it is the right choice for you.


DTG Printing vs. Screen Printing and Other Alternatives

Various established methods for garment production are screen printing, transfer printing, cut vinyl, and embroidery--each with benefits and drawbacks. Let's take a brief look at some of the other t-shirt printing methods.


Screen Printing

screen printing method

Out of all the printing techniques, screen printing is the most popular due to its versatility and durability. If you need a large number of garments, this printing method can produce high volumes at a low cost per unit. It provides very limited options, however, for mixing colors. Each color used on a screen print design needs to have its own template created. These templates are then printed on the t-shirt or garment individually and they combine to create the final image. For this reason, gradients and intricate multi-color combinations are not possible with screen printing. Additionally, because there needs to be s separate template for each color, the cost goes up the more colors are used in a design.


Transfer Printing

heat press machineTransfer printing, also called heat-press printing, is a process of permanently transferring an image from one surface to another. It was typically used to add fine details to glass and ceramics, but can now be done on fabric as well. Heat presses are used to transfer an image from one surface to another. While the process is fairly simple, it can produce complex designs. Heat pressing is a slow method, as it requires a technician to press each garment individually. However, if you are looking for a small number of garments or t-shirts, it is usually the most cost-effective option. The process does have some limitations on the types of fabric that can be used, and the design doesn't hold up to as many wash cycles as DTG, screen printing, or other methods. But if you need staff shirts for an event, for example, transfer printing might be the way to go. Denver Print Company offers custom heat press t-shirt printing services.


Cut Vinyl

embroidery logo

Unlike regular printing, vinyl printing does not require any actual ink. Instead, a machine cuts out your design from high-quality vinyl. This is then applied to the fabric using heat. However, because it's a more complex printing process, it's not ideal for large prints or designs with multiple colors. Additionally, Transfer and Vinyl printings are known to separate from clothing after being put in the tumble dryer or washed many times.



Embroidery involves stitching a design into the fabric by machine or hand. This is one of the most popular garment branding methods due to its professional appearance. However, the thread can sometimes reduce logo quality and complicate small designs.

dye sublimated jersey

Dye Sublimation

Dye sublimation- where the ink is heated into a vapor to permeate the fabric- is becoming more and more popular, especially for custom sports garments such as cycling lycra and printed performance t-shirts.


Direct to Garment Printing

Let's look at how Direct to Garment printing compares to the other four options we discussed, now that we know all of the ins and outs. If you're looking for an alternative to traditional production methods, direct-to-garment printing may be the right choice for you. This technology has only become widely available in the past few years, but it is rapidly becoming a popular option among t-shirt printers.

Direct-to-garment printing, as the name suggests, uses ink to print straight onto the fabric or item of your choice. The ink seeps into the fibers of the fabric so you can't feel the design when you touch a DTG print, as you would with screen printing.


Advantages of DTG Printing

There are many reasons why people prefer direct-to-garment printing over other printing methods.

To start, it offers the ability to print a wide variety of colors and designs. The DTG process is also extremely fast process compared to other printing methods, making it an option for both mass production and short production runs. Unlike screen printing or embroidery, the set-up cost for DTG is minimal. This means that it is often not cost-prohibitive to do a small run of garments.

Other advantages include:

  • Works on colored garments

  • High-quality results that accurately reproduce what you intended

  • Eco-friendly because it is water-based


Disadvantages of DTG Printing

The two primary drawbacks to DTG are:

  • Printing can only be done on cotton

  • Limited design placement

Cotton garments are popular for many reasons. You can use direct-to-garment printing on any item made from cottons, such as bags, t-shirts, or hoodies. Additionally, cotton is hypoallergenic so it won't cause any reactions, plus it's weatherproof and comfortable to wear. All these benefits make the supposed cotton garment limitations seem not so bad after all.

Another downside is that design placement is limited, which could be a dealbreaker for some. DTG printing machines are set up to run garments through in a similar manner to a piece of paper in an office printer. Because of this, printing anywhere other than the front or back of the shirt or garment cannot be done. But unless you want unique designs printed on the sleeves or across the side of the shirt, this may not bother you.


Where to Find DTG Printers

Throughout our history, Denver Print Company has had to outsource apparel orders. This limited our ability to turn the number of apparel requests that came our way into actual orders. Those days are coming to an end. We have recently purchased a DTG machine. For the first time in our history, we will be able to offer speedy in-house apparel printing, both large and small runs.

The direct-to-garment printing method is an amazing way to get highly detailed prints on cotton garments. This cost-effective option is perfect for fashion labels or businesses that want to provide customized clothing. With direct-to-garment printing, you have plenty of options and can create some truly unique pieces of clothing. With a digital image, you can create a design using software, upload it to a supplier’s website, and print shirts or bags with the exact same design. There is minimal loss in quality and accurate reproduction guarantees that you always get a high-quality product.

Contact one of Denver's newest DTG printers, Denver Print Company, today to learn more about DTG printing and discuss how it can solve your apparel needs.