King Kong vs Godzilla, Batman vs Superman, DTG vs Screen Printing... some of the toughest and most fierce battles known to human kind. Both methods of printing are very popular, each with their own strengths and weaknesses... But the real question is, which method of printing is best suited to your printing needs?
Both DTG and screen printing have their own unique advantages that make them very desirable printing methods in their own rights. They also both come with their own perceived disadvantages. Here we look to explore the two printing methods to help you decide which printing method is best for you.
Evolving from the ancient art of stencilling, screen printing is the process of pushing ink through a woven mesh ‘screen’ and on to a garment underneath, using a squeegee, across a stencil which acts as an ink blocker.
A relatively new printing method, DTG printing, works similar to an inkjet printer in the sense that it prints water-based inks directly on to garments so that it soaks in to the fibres of the fabric.
But the question still looms... which of these printing methods is best suited to you?
Screen Printing Advantages
First and foremost, vibrancy. There is no denying that the thickness of the Plastisol ink commonly used in the screen printing process is a big advantage for this technique. As opposed to the comparatively limited CMYK colour model employed in the process printing of DTG, screen printing can incorporate a wide range of colours and the inks are extremely opaque, leaving a loud, vibrant print on the fabric.
Screen printing also makes use of speciality inks to manipulate the appearance and feel of a design. Thick layers of ink can help give a design a 3D effect while other speciality inks used in screen printing can yield different results such as a raised feel, a metallic shimmer, a suede appearance, glow in the dark ink and more. The ink used in the DTG process soaks into the fibres and as a result cannot creates textured, raised effect like screen printing.
3. Large Bulk Orders
Another potential benefit of screen printing is the fact that it can be rather cost effective when printing large quantities of garments. The reason being is that although the screens are complex to set up, as a screen is needed for each colour in the design, once a screen has been created, the design can be repeated over and over again.
Direct-to-Garment Printing Advantages
1. Small Orders
As opposed to screen printing, DTG does not require the complex screen set up for each individual colour in a design. With DTG printing, it does not matter if you are printing one garment or one hundred, as the artwork is uploaded to the computer which then prints onto the garments so there is no large setup costs for every new design you wish to make. Not only does this reduce the time it takes to set up a design, it also means that there is no minimum order number unlike screen print which needs to recoup set-up costs
If you’re looking for a detailed design, DTG is the way to go. DTG printing can fire tiny ink droplets of multiple different colours simultaneously, capable of creating intricate designs which appear photorealistic. Screen printing performs at its best with simple designs incorporating fewer colours.
3. Quality and Comfort
DTG printing, as previously mentioned, fires lightweight water-based ink onto the garment itself so that it soaks in to the fibres of the fabric. As a result, the garment is not only comfortable, as there is no additional layer as if one large sticker has been placed on the garment, but it is also durable. This is because the print is less likely to crack or look worn as it is not in one piece or an additional layer on the garment helping it to remain long lasting and appear undamaged.
So we have had a little look at the benefits of both DTG and screen printing methods, but which is considered the greenest option?
Sustainability and Eco-Friendliness are at the forefront of nearly every conversation concerning production these days especially with regards to what we can do to eliminate waste going forward and therefore reduce our carbon footprint.
With that in mind, let’s consider the environmental impacts of both printing methods to determine which is the least harmful to Mother Nature. Firstly, screen printing.
How Eco Friendly is Screen Printing?
Despite its vibrancy, screen printing is not necessarily the most environmentally kind method of printing because it typically uses a PVC based plastisol ink. Plastisol is a carcinogen that is not drain safe, meaning it is difficult to dispose of and also is damaging to natural life and delicate ecosystems. Water based inks are able to be used in screen printing but this is not as common as it takes a lot of the opaqueness out of the print, one of screen printing’s selling points.
Furthermore, the screen printing process involves ink being pushed through a mesh screen meaning not all the ink is being used on the garment which means more ink is being wasted and needing to be disposed. Screen printing is useful for big bulk orders as previously mentioned but it is for this reason that some Garments may then be surplus and discarded to landfill sites. The screen printing process also requires a large amount of water.
How Eco Friendly is DTG Printing?
With regards to DTG printing, however, it can be considered more cost effective as there is less ink being wasted in the print process as it is applied directly to the garment in the area it is needed. As a result of of this, DTG can be considered as the more green, more efficient method of printing.
Also, the water-based inks commonly used in the DTG process are drain safe so can be disposed of easily if needed, and also are biodegradable, non-toxic and non-hazardous. On top of this they are made without any animal byproducts and printers used in the DTG process waste hardly any water.