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What’s the difference between DTG and Screenprinting?

This article is a comparison between screen printing and DTG (digital direct to garment printing). Our bulk factory screen prints for some of Europe’s biggest brands, and whilst Teemill store owners sometimes order in bulk to sell in-store, at gigs or evens, for on-demand fulfilment, orders from Teemill use digital printing. So how do the two print methods compare?

Firstly, let’s talk over the reasons there are different print methods in the first place.

Screen Printing

Screen printing is a low cost, high-quality way to print high volumes of shirts where the design on each product is the same. Even when you use GOTS organic-compliant inks like us, it still costs very little in material and time per print. However, the setup costs to cut the screens, mix the inks and process the art is seriously time intensive, even for our skilled technicians. It can take hours to set up for a job. It’s only really suitable where you’re printing 50 or more tees of the same design. The average order size for screenprinting at our factory is around 2000 items, for example.

Digital Printing

Compare that to Teemill print on demand fulfillment, where the customer gets a free online store and sells their designs online. We print each order one at a time and ship the same day with your branding. Doing setup on each order wouldn’t work. But because our factory technology connects the internet to our printers, we can automate printing on digital machines – and that makes printing your orders one at a time, in real time, finally possible. And it unlocks some great opportunities.

With screen printing you put down one colour at a time. Digital printing is different to screen printing, in that the print head prints directly onto the fabric like a paper printer, so we can put down CMYK inks in full colour as standard.

So as well as automatically printing your designs with no setup fee, we print in large format full photo quality colour too. There are some differences in the inks and vibrancy that come with using a different ink process.

Vibrance

Digital printers mix colour on the fly, whereas volume screenprint jobs have dedicated Pantone matching albeit at the cost of expensive setup. So the look, feel and capability of the print differs with each technique.

Screen printing produces thick, punchy block colours which are slightly more vibrant and saturated. The blacks are blacker, the whites are really thick as they’re mixed especially. With digital printing, the inks are mixed by the print head and so you can create gradients and print in photo quality.

Screenprinting is limited to block vector graphics with a limited number of colours, and the artwork is much harder to prepare. DTG in comparison is a breeze, you can upload a simple jpeg photo and get the print out in full colour.

Check out the video below for more details on the difference between DTG and Screenprinting.

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