Yes, direct-to-garment printing (DTG) is an excellent method for creating long-lasting, durable prints on clothing and accessories. Expect T-shirts and other garments that are printed using DTG technology to be retail quality — as good as or better than the printed t-shirts you find at big box retailers or your favorite stores in a local mall.
That means that you can expect great quality out of a DTG-printed shirt even after washing and wearing it multiple times.
How Long Do Direct-to-Garment Prints Last?
A number that you hear thrown around is that the industry standard for printed clothing is 50 washes. Many agree, however, that DTG prints will last longer than that.
Another way to look at it is that direct-to-garment prints tend to last the life of the garment — and age along with it. As you repeatedly wash and wear your garment, it begins to deteriorate. As this happens, you’ll notice the ink on the fabric starts breaking down as well.
The Importance of Pretreating and Finishing
To ensure that a DTG print stays vibrant and durable for as long as possible, it is essential that the garment is properly pretreated before it’s printed and then properly finished or “cured” after it’s been printed. Pretreatment is a process in which pretreatment fluid is sprayed on a garment and allowed to dry before printing on the garment.
Pretreatment helps ink adhere to the fabric and also creates a smooth print surface that aids in achieving excellent print quality. This is particularly true when it comes to dark-colored garments. Dark garments require a white ink underbase to make the colors of the images appear bright and vibrant — and white ink requires a pretreated surface to adhere to the fabric correctly and achieve true color in the print.
Once your garment is printed, the ink still needs to be cured into the fabric so that it will be permanent. To properly finish a dtg-printed item of clothing, a heat press is commonly used. Larger DTG operations sometimes opt for a tunnel dryer instead. Regardless of which method you use, the garment needs to undergo the right amount of pressure at the right temperature and for the right amount of time. When done properly, your end result will be a beautiful garment that will stand up to years of regular wash and wear.
Longer-Lasting Garments = Longer-Lasting Prints
Just as printed images will start fading and breaking down as the garment on which they’re printed ages, those images will last longer if you take better care of your garment. Remember all those rules your mom tried to teach you about doing laundry? They all apply here.
If you wash your printed t-shirt in a cold, gentle wash cycle and line dry it, it will last a lot longer than if you throw the shirt in a hot, permanent press cycle and then tumble dry it on “hot” along with multiple pairs of blue jeans.
Test the Durability of a DTG Print for Yourself
One of the best ways to test the durability of a DTG print is to simply try it out for yourself! Request a sample t-shirt printed using DTG and then simply start putting it through the ringer — literally! Throw the t-shirt in the washer and in the dryer — and put it through as many cycles as you want, so that you can see how the print holds up.
If you would like to request a sample t-shirt printed on the award-winning RICOH Ri 1000 direct to garment printer, please contact us!