Direct to Garment vs Screen printing - 10 Key points

Screen printing and direct-to-garment printing are the two most sought-after printing methods in the market, but there are still many doubts about which is the best way to print T-shirts.

The purpose of this article is to clarify - once and for all - which is the best option for clothing customization.

.

Without further ado, let's examine the aspects one by one.

.

VIBRANT COLORS

Printing with screen printing isn't much different from painting a wall. It's necessary to mix colors and achieve the pigments we need. It's also an opaque and relatively thick ink. With these characteristics, we can achieve all shades of color that clients may desire, including fluorescent colors.

.

Although direct-to-garment printers can provide a white base for printing to have brighter tones, digital printing still cannot achieve certain shades. Despite significant advancements in recent years, vibrant tones remain the most challenging to achieve.

WINNER: SCREEN PRINTING

.

.

Changes in shades / shadows

Returning to the analogy used in the last point, just like when painting a wall with a roller, it's not easy to print shadows or make changes in the tone of printing throughout a design using screen printing. There are techniques that allow "tricking" the eyes, but with a closer look, one can perceive that they are only simulations.

.

Direct to garment printing excels in this point. As shadows and changes in tone are easy for this method, like any digital printing. Photographic reproductions or illustrations with hundreds of tones are not difficult for DTG (direct to garment).

WINNER: DIRECT TO GARMENT

Juvori sweater with Direct Printing compared to Screen Printing
T-Shirt with direct to garment

.

.

True-to-life Colors

Screen printing has a characteristic that no other production method has. It allows mixing pigments to achieve a very specific tone. As we use Pantone charts, we can also achieve any tone that our client desires.

.

Direct to garment printing - and any digital printing - can approximate a tone, but never match it 100%. There is a relationship between the computer, the RIP, and the machine that can distort certain tones, making it impossible for us to guarantee exact colors.

WINNER: SCREEN PRINTING

.

.

DETAILS

There's jobs and jobs. Some productions are single-color, with text written in Times New Roman, while others are full of details, halftones, and intricacies.

Serigrafia is able to achieve 99% of these details, especially due to all the technology we use to develop productions. However, there are always very small details that can escape, especially when printing on thicker garments or items.

.

Direct-to-garment printing allows us to achieve small details such as millimeter-sized text with incredible quality. As it uses eco-friendly water-based inks, these are also very thin. Therefore, we can go down to the smallest detail without much difficulty.

WINNER: DIRECT TO GARMENT

.

.

DURABILITY

This is the major point that our clients often emphasize. With the exception of embroidery, nothing else on the market has the durability of screen printing. This is a fact. It is very common to see personalized clothing with years and even decades of wear, with a print in (almost) perfect condition. As the screen printing uses plastic-based inks, it clings to the fabric tightly.

.

Direct to garment is evolving rapidly. If a few years ago we talked about 25/50 washes, today we can confidently talk about up to 100 washes with reduced loss of color vibrancy. However, screen printing still offers better durability.

WINNER: SCREEN PRINTING

.

.

At the halfway point of our test, screen printing is winning by a very slight margin.

.

.

COMFORT AND TOUCH

This category is based on my personal opinion. As comfort, I understand something that has a light touch and where I can move without difficulty. By touch, I mean something that has a soft touch.

The plastisol inks used in screen printing end up forming a relatively thick layer on top of the fabric. When using layering in printing, this situation worsens a bit, so with a very large print, we feel some discomfort.

.

Direct to garment, on the other hand, uses water-based inks, which are much softer. On white t-shirts, we can't even feel the print, and on colored garments, although there is some touch, it's still less than in screen printing.

WINNER: DIRECT TO GARMENT

.

.

VERSATILITY

What do we understand by versatility? It's about being able to put the same print on a wide variety of products. T-shirts, sweatshirts, shirts, polos, jackets, etc., are items we work with every day.

Screen printing is almost king in versatility. Although there are some items that we cannot print on (the biggest example being fleeces), by changing the type of ink or modifying the technique slightly, we can print on virtually any type of product.

.

Direct to garment faces significant challenges when we don't print on 100% cotton products. Actually, the minimum percentage of cotton that a direct printing job can have is 80%. Below that, the final print quality will always decrease considerably.

WINNER: SCREEN PRINTING

Difference in direct to garment printing between 50/50 and 80/20
"Direct to garment on a 50% cotton item (left) and 80% cotton item (right)"

.

.

CONSISTENCE

Consistency is essentially ensuring that all garments are printed in the same way, regardless of the type of item we print on.

screen printing doesn't distinguish.

  • Whether it's a T-shirt or a jacket, in theory, the print will always be very close on all items.
  • Whether it's the first or the last piece, the work should always look the same.

.

Direct to garment printing isn't finicky either, but when we try to print a t-shirt and a sweatshirt, we end up with slightly different results. If we're printing on light backgrounds (without using a white base underneath the image), we'll also get different results between t-shirt colors.

WINNER: SCREEN PRINTING

.

.

SPECIAL EFFECTS

Screen printing allows for a variety of special effects in printing. Whether you want 3D printing, fluorescent colors, or glow-in-the-dark prints, you can achieve your goals.

.

Direct to garment printing is extremely limited in this regard. This printing does one thing, and it does it well. Print! Special effects are for other customization options such as screen printing or flex printing.

WINNER: SCREEN PRINTING

.

.

POPULARITY

Screen printing has existed for hundreds of years. Over time, it has become known as the best option for clothing printing. For many people, there is screen printing, and then there are "others." It's extremely popular!

.

Direct to garment is a very recent technology. At Maudlin Merchandise, we were pioneers in introducing the technology in Portugal when nobody knew about it yet. Over the past 7 years, it has had a remarkable evolution, and many customers now specifically request direct-to-garment printing.

WINNER: TIE

.

.

With a total of 6 wins against 3 (and 1 draw), screen printing is the natural winner of this challenge. Although all these points are subjective, we consider screen printing to be the best printing method currently on the market, although it may not be the ideal method for all T-shirt printing jobs.

.

What did you think about the points raised? Do you agree? Do you have an opinion you would like to share?

estampagem têxtil

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Garment Decoration

We are available to help you create your clothing brand or personalized merchandise with your own logos.

We work for companies and private individuals with no production minimums.

Recent Posts
Follow us