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Technology Comparison

See how DTG compares with other garment printing processes

Which apparel printing process is right for me?

View this DTG comparison matrix to compare different garment printing technologies to see which type is right for your business needs. You can see how adding a DTG printer to an existing vinyl heat transfer, silkscreen, or embroidery business can increase profit margins and keep smaller custom on-demand jobs in-house. Plus, our printers are also capable of doing DTF.

  Direct to Garment Dye Sublimation Thermal Transfer Screen Printing
Basic technology Inkjet, direct on garment Print images on a release paper, then transfer image to garment by heat press Transfer preprinted images to garment by heat press Screen printing directly on garment
Graphics Full digital color Full digital color Color separations Color separations. 4-color simulated process approximates digital
Technology History 10 years 50+ years 50+ years 50+ years
Supported substrates 100% cotton, high cotton blends, polyester, canvas, hemp and linen 100% white polyester Synthetic, poly blends Any fabric type
White ink supported (for impressions on dark or black shirts) Yes No Not applicable Yes
Ink and Environmental Concerns Water-based pigment ink is environmentally friendly and non-toxic. No fumes. Typically solvent-based ink. VOC and environmental concerns. Ink is already on transfer paper. Ink is already on transfer paper. Commonly plastisol ink with environmental concerns. Produces VOC and waste water problems. Water-based inks available but cost more.
Printed Garment's Tactile Feel Soft and natural cotton feeling, depending on ink quality. Natural feeling Depends on the character of transfer paper used Thick hardened plastisol. "Tarp" feeling
Profitability of short runs High High High Not feasible, especially for multiple colors. Runs below 25 prints are cost prohibitive
Capital Equipment Investment $10,000 to $50,000 $2,000 to $10,000 $2,000 to $10,000 $5,000 to $250,000
Ideal Owner Profile Professional commercial system, small scale commercial, hobbyist Hobbyist or small scale commercial Hobbyist or small scale commercial Professional Commercial System
Shop Footprint 50-100 sq. ft. 50-100 sq. ft. 50 sq. ft. (heat press only) 250 sq. ft. and up
Set-up Time 2-5 minutes 2.5 minutes zero 2-4 hours, depending on many variables