DTG 101 – Part 1

Being a Direct to Garment specialist in Singapore, our clients often asks us what exactly is Direct to Garment Printing. In this post, we hope to address these questions. Direct to garment printing, also known as DTG printing, digital direct to garment printing, digital apparel printing, and inkjet to garment printing, is a process of printing on textiles and garments using specialized or modified inkjet technology. In layman terms, DTG is inkjet printing on fabric rather than on paper.

This printing technology is considered rather new considering that the concept of retrofitting a conventional inkjet printer to print on tshirts was only conceived less than 10 years ago. Direct to garment printing was introduced around 1996 at a trade show in Tampa, Florida. In 1998, Brother, Intl. began to develop proprietary DTG printers, beta testing them until 2003, with a first showing at an Atlantic City, NJ trade show in 2005. In the last 7 of its 10 years history, DTG technology has been widely deemed as experimental and that the technology was too unstable and expensive to either produce in large quantities or command enough money to cover cost. But in the last 3 years, numerous technological breakthroughs have tremendously improved the specialty inks and print technology. With these improvements, cost of DTG printing have been coming down to a point where is it a viable and pretty attractive print proposition.

For the consumers, the fact that we’re now able to print full colour through CMYK on fabrics directly, means we are freed from the restrictions of solid color prints or tacky plastics on our shirts. Anything you can design on a digital canvas can be directly translated into onto your garment with much of its details and and design integrity intact. Gone are the days where high quality prints comes with hefty prices and high minimum quantities.

Perhaps the best example how the printing industry is embracing DTG can be seen in how the technology is the now the main driving force behind some of the biggest T-Shirt fulfillment companies such as Threadless, Printful and Society6. They all use DTG to make thousands of designs available each day with minimal effort.

I’ve listed here some advantages of DTG printing for your reference.