DTG Technology Comparison
View this DTG comparison matrix to compare different garment printing technologies to see which type is right for your particular 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.
Which apparel printing process is right for me?
|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|