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Screen Printing Verses DTG Digital Printing

Last Updated: Monday 4th December 2017

What’s The Difference Between DTG And Screen Printing?

DTG verses Screen Printing

There are a lot of differences between DTG digital printing and the screen printing method of t shirt printing. We will explain them as we progress through this post. Briefly, the differences are broken down into four main areas, the initial set up times, the production time for each print, the resolution of the design and the way the prints feel in your hand.

Set Up And Preparation

If we had to explain the main differences in a sentence, DTG has a low set up cost and preparation time, unlike screen printing which has a large set up cost and preparation time before printing begins.

The set up for DTG digital printing is as simple as loading the image into the print software and selecting some options, or let’s say, less than 5 minutes.

When compared with screen printing, which needs its own screen and film to be prepared for each colour in your design. Each screen needs an hour or more work to separate the artwork, print the film, reclaim the screen for re-use, coat the screen with photo sensitive emulsion, expose it with the new design, wash the screen, prep the screen for printing, load screen with ink and test the print.

Production Speed

When you take the previous preparation time away for both methods, the DTG printer is a lot slower to reproduce each print, when compared with screen printing where production speed can be as high as 10-20 times faster per print than with DTG digital printing. This means that DTG is great for small print runs. For example print runs from 1-100 prints tend to be cheaper.

Screen printing can reach its critical mass at a higher production quantity, where the cost of set up out weights the per print production speed.

Print Resolution

DTG Digital printing is capable of printing a much higher resolution (720ppi)  and so, is ideal for printing full colour designs with lots of detail and gradients. This should replicate your design exactly, preserving all the fine details.

When you compare screen printing the same design, the reproduction will not be as detailed (70-80 ppi ) and there may be a slight loss of the fine details.

Print hand Feel

The DTG print method will result in a smoother print outcome, as the print is pressed with a heat press. The feel of the print is only really noticeable on dark garments, with a White under-base. White t-shirts have a soft feel, because the coloured ink is printed directly into the t-shirts fibres, 

When printing with plastisol screen printing inks, these inks sit on top of the shirt and can feel slightly rough.

You can get a soft hand feel with Screen printing by using water based inks or a process call discharge printing, that can produce the same result as DTG on light colours.

Types of Inks Used

The DTG method uses inks that are water-based, therefore, they are a little more delicate, mainly dark shirts with a white under base, and these shirts require a little more care when washing.

The screen printing inks are a lot more durable when washing. There are a much larger range of speciality inks used in screen printing to produce a huge range of effects.

So now you should have a good idea about what are the main differences between DTG and Screen printing. If you would like to talk to us about your current printing requirements, we will be glad to help you.

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