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What is Direct to Garment (DTG) Printing?

Discover how Direct to Garment printing (a.k.a. DTG) lets you create retail-quality clothing by printing virtually any image on t-shirts, hoodies, and more!

Direct to garment printing (DTG) is a garment printing method for creating customized apparel and accessories. Unlike the more complicated processes used in screen printing, DTG printing is simple. Print full-color images directly onto garments, similar to how you use a regular inkjet printer to print on paper. Perfect for printing high-definition photos, fine detail, and virtually unlimited colors. In addition, DTG printers utilize water-based inks that are more environmentally friendly, vibrant, durable, and soft to the touch.

How does direct to garment printing work?

Direct to garment printing empowers you to print any high-quality image onto a wide range of clothing and accessories. Use free DTG software to convert your image to a printable file that you send to your printer. Your direct to garment printer then utilizes digital inkjet technology to deposit ink directly on the fabric where it is absorbed and then cured with a heat press or tunnel dryer. The result is a soft, vibrant, long-lasting custom garment.

Check out the easy, three-step printing process.


(1) Design and Pre-Treatment

Design a graphic in Spark, Photoshop, Illustrator, or other graphic design program. Customers can give you custom artwork in JPEG, PNG, or Tiff format. Free AnaRIP or included ColorGATE software allows you to control ink settings, image placement, and other print options. Click print within the program, and the graphic is sent to your Ricoh DTG printer. Before printing, the garment is often pre-treated with a special solution to enhance color vibrancy and was fastness.

(2) Print

Heat press for a short time, load your garment onto the printer, preview your image on the console, and press the print button on the printer. Print a single pass of CMYK ink for a light-colored garment, or two passes for a dark-colored garment, first a white ink underbase and then the CMYK ink layer.


(3) Press

Heat press for 60 to 90 seconds to heat-cure the ink into the shirt. Tunnel dryers also work, when used according to the manufacturer’s directions. The RICOH DTG printers produce vibrant print quality because you can print millions of colors in one pass. Print gradients, text, photos, and more — your creativity is limited by only your imagination.

Watch the DTG Printing Process in Action

Gain a better understanding of direct to garment printing in this video of the award-winning RICOH Ri 1000 direct to garment-printer. See how a custom t-shirt is made — from designing and processing with RIP software to finishing the garment on a heat press.

Print Technology Comparison

View this DTG comparison matrix to compare different garment printing technologies to see which type is right for your particular needs.

Garment Decoration Industry

Success in apparel printing requires the right plan, the right equipment, and the right partner. Learn more about the growing garment decoration industry in this post.

Direct to Garment Printing FAQs

How much is a direct to garment printer?

The price of direct to garment printers ranges from under $5,000 to $400,000. For entry-level users, the all-in-one Ri 100 costs $4,950 and comes with everything you need to print enough t-shirts to pay off the printer and make a profit. The industry-leading RICOH Ri 1000X, ideal for industry newcomers and veterans alike, retails for $15,950.

Is direct to garment (DTG) printing good quality?

Yes. When pretreated and cured correctly, the print will last the life of the garment and age along with it. DTG prints are soft, yet durable and washable.

Which is the best DTG printer?

Elevate your apparel printing experience to a whole new level with our RICOH DTG printers featuring cutting-edge RICOH Printhead technology. Ricoh is synonymous with reliability and innovation, trusted by businesses worldwide

Is DTG printing profitable?

Yes, direct to garment (DTG) printing is profitable! Check out our infographic that shows how much money you can make with DTG. Ask us about our current customers and what they think about our DTG printers

Have more questions about direct-to-garment printing?

As a pioneer in the direct-to-garment printing industry, Ricoh has a proven track record of designing and manufacturing the best DTG printers in the industry. We also have a long history of serving as a strategic partner for our customers, offering advice and guidance on running a successful DTG business. Whether you have a technical question about how direct-to-garment printers work or would like advice on how to make money with direct-to-garment-printing, our DTG experts are here to help.

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