Direct to Garment Digital Printing Explained

The printing process for direct to garment digital printing is very similar to printing out a piece of paper from your printer at home or at work. As its name implies, in DTG printing the ink is applied directly to the fabric of your custom apparel. Digital printing is typically done as a money-saving alternative to screen printing for smaller orders of 100% cotton custom apparel. Learn more about the differences between screen printing vs. digital printing or check out our complete digital printing capabilities.

How Does DTG Printing Work?

In DTG digital printing a special kind of printer is used to apply water-based ink directly to the fabric of your product using inkjet technology. The fibers of the garment absorb this water-based ink to create your custom design or logo. Only cotton fibers will absorb the ink, so DTG printing is limited to 100% cotton apparel only.

Step by Step Guide to Custom DTG Digital Printing

  • Create your design – graphic design software like Photoshop or InDesign is used to mock up your corporate logo or custom design.
  • Send design to printer – after your design is complete, it is sent to the DTG machine where the print driver provides the machine instructions on what to print.
  • Pretreat your garment – a pretreating machine is used to prepare your fabric for the printing process. This only takes a few seconds.
  • Dry the garment – after pretreating, the garment will need to be dried using a heat press set to 330 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20-30 seconds or until the fabric is completely dry.
  • Position the product – your garment is positioned on the plate of the DTG printer and locked into place with a hoop.

DTG Digitally Printing Custom Shirts

  • Print the design – printing is actually the easy part. If your design is programmed into the DTG machine it’s as easy as pressing the print button.

DTG Digitally Printing Custom Shirts

  • Cure the fabric – once the printing is complete the garment is taken back to the heat press to be cured. Silicon paper is used to protect your design from the heat and then the press is heated to 330 degrees Fahrenheit and applied at a light pressure for about 90 seconds.

    DTG Digitally Printing Custom Shirts

    • Finished! – your custom printed apparel is complete! Now we check the garment for quality, package it up, and ship it to your door.

    DTG Digitally Printing Custom Shirts

    What Equipment is Needed for Digital Printing?

    • Computer – a computer with graphic design software is used to mock up your logo or custom design before sending it off to the print driver to communicate with the printer and tell it what to print and where to print it on the garment.
    • Pretreating Machine – this is used to prepare your garment to be printed on.
    • Heat Press – the heat press is used to dry your garment after pretreating and cure the fabric after printing is complete.
    • Digital Printer – there are many different digital printers on the market today for different applications and operations. However, the Epson f2000 digital printer is the only DTG printer that is compatible with Mac computers.
    • Ink – water based inkjet ink cartridges are used to apply a wide variety of ink colors directly to your garment.

    Next Steps

    Now that you know how direct to garment digital printing works you can get started with ordering your custom printed t-shirts or sweatshirts. Be sure to check out our complete digital printing capabilities. If you’re not sure if DTG printing is right for you, refer to our Custom Decoration Methods Guide or contact us with questions!