Direct-to-Garment Printing (DTG)
There are a couple of different methods of t-shirt printing. Direct-to-garment printing uses a modified inkjet printer to directly print the design on the t-shirt without the use of a stenciled image or a squeegee to apply ink through a mesh. The textile water base ink for printing the t-shirt.
Because of the reduction of the steps in the t-shirt printing process, the DTG method increases the turnaround time. More shirts can be printed on in less time. Aside from that, because DTG does not use a mesh for printing, the number of colors and the intricacy of design is more flexible and customizable.
Screen printing makes use of a mesh or screen made of polymer, a squeegee made of rubber, and a t-shirt printing machine. The mesh used to be made of silk because the screen printing method originated in China. However, because of silk’s expensiveness, manufacturers have started creating fine screens from polymer instead.
These modern screen printing meshes were as durable as the silk screens of yore. When they are damaged, these polymer meshes will not be as costly to dispose of as when they are made of silk. Polymer is also easier to gather as a resource material compared to silk, which is hard to come by.
Shirt Printing Using Thermal Transfer
The thermal transfer method uses the same modified inkjet printer to print the textile ink onto a special paper that reacts to heat. When heat and pressure are applied to this special paper, the design is transferred to the fabric. Sometimes, water is applied first to the back of the paper before being ironed over the t-shirt. Other times, the back of the paper is directly ironed over after being placed on top of the fabric.
These are the major processes used in t-shirt printing. There may be other methods such as flex and flock printing, but these three methods are the most used by t-shirt printing companies. They are also the most cost-efficient and most requested by clients. The other t-shirt printing methods are used in combination to produce custom printed t-shirt designs.