When is Screen Printing Better than Direct to Garment Printing

Screen Printing or Direct to Garment Printing

Although screen printing has been around for thousands of years, proving itself to be the most effective way of printing an image on a garment, a new method has emerged that is threatening to take its place: direct to garment printing. 

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Using a process that is essentially the same as that used by inkjet printers, direct to garment (DTG) printing sprays ink onto fabric by mixing together four to six colors (cyan, magenta, black, yellow, red, and green). 

Over the years, DTG technology has been improving consistently, making it the preferred choice for many printers. 

However, traditional screen printing still has its place. In fact, there are a number of reasons why screen printing is still better. 

What is Screen Printing?

Screen printing is a method for printing images onto fabric that has been around for millennia. In this method, ink is pushed through a stencil, which was originally a screen, and applied to the fabric. This is done over and over again, using different stencils, layering color on until the desired image is recreated on the garment. 

One of the main differences between screen printing and DTG is that DTG does not layer the ink, which allows for improved color blending and better image detail. 

Because of the simplicity of this method, it has stood the test of time and remains just as relevant today as ever. But there are instances where it is simply better than DTG.

How is Screen Printing Better than Direct to Garment Printing

DTG technology is improving constantly, and this means more and more people are using it to print images onto garments. But screen printing beats DTG in a number of different ways. Its main advantages include: 

Mass Production

Because screen printing has been around for so long, the technology has come a long way. There are machines out there that can print hundreds of t-shirts in an hour, something that modern DTG printers simply cannot do. The process of mixing together the colors and printing onto a garment just takes too long. 

Since they first hit the market, DTG printers have improved considerably. But they are still noticeably slower than screen printers. So, if you are trying to print onto hundreds and hundreds of garments, then screen printing is still going to be your best bet.

Synthetic Materials

Most garments these days are made from synthetic materials, such as polyester. Even if cotton is involved, synthetic fibers are usually still mixed in. DTG printers use a type of ink that doesn’t bond to these synthetic fibers all that well, which is why it is best for garments made from 100 percent cotton. 

If the material you’re printing on is not 100 percent cotton, then screen printing is still going to be the better option.


One of the big limitations of DTG printing is that the ink does not last as long on the garment as it does when applied using screen printing. Of course, improperly screen printed images can fade over time, but when given the chance to cure and set, a screen printed article of clothing can go through the wash hundreds of times and never fade. 

Over the years, DTG has gotten better with this. But a DTG printed garment is still not going to last as long as a screen printed one.

Color Matching

Direct to Garment Printing

The color scheme used in screen printing — pantones — means you can create a much wider range of colors than you can using DTG, which can only generate colors by mixing together the original six: cyan, magenta, yellow, black, red, and green. 

So, if you are trying to put an image onto a garment that requires a very specific color, this is going to be much easier to do with screen printing than it would be with DTG. In fact, depending on the specific shade, you might not even be able to recreate it with DTG, which could sacrifice the overall quality of the finished product. 

The Old Methods Are Still Good

The popularity of DTG printing is growing rapidly, but it’s unlikely it will fully replace traditional screen printing anytime soon. There’s a reason it’s been around for so long: it does the job and it does it well. 

Of course, as DTG technology continues to improve, things might change. But for now, screen printing is here to stay.

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