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Direct to Garment Printing

What is Direct to Garment (DTG) Printing?

Direct to Garment (DTG) Printing is a relatively new technology for creating a custom t-shirt in a fast and easy way, regardless of how complex or colorful the design is. As the name implies, Direct to Garment prints ink directly onto a piece of fabric. Just send us a design and we will prepare it for the magic of this entirely digital printing process.

If you’re not an expert on DTG yet, don’t worry. As experts ourselves, we’re happy to share knowledge that can help you get the quality custom tee that you need.

Below you will find a guide for how to prepare your design for DTG, outlining:

The Benefits of Direct to Garment Printing

DTG printing is the way to go if you want a t-shirt with an elaborate design and tons of colors. While other printing methods limit the amount of colors in your design, DTG can handle a virtually limitless color palette.

Direct to Garment is:
  • Fast
  • Able to print full-color designs at no extra cost
  • Capable of printing highly detailed images, like photographs
  • Perfect for a small batch of shirts, as there is no minimum order requirement

The only real limitation of DTG is that only one shirt can be printed at a time, so it’s not suitable for large orders.
Screen Printing is the way to go if you want a cost-effective way of printing large numbers of shirts.

These shirts were all printed using Direct to Garment. You can see the large variety of colors and detail in each design.

Submitting Your Design for Direct to Garment Printing

To get the DTG process started, we first need a digital version of your design that follows these simple guidelines:
  • File Format:
    • Vector Files: EPS, SVG, AI, PDF
    • Raster Files: PSD, TIF, PNG, JPG, PDF
  • Resolution:
    • At least 300 DPI at the size you want printed for the best quality print
  • Colors:
    • For Direct to Garment (DTG): Unlimited colors

The higher the resolution, the better the print will turn out. 300 DPI is the recommended resolution, but we can make it work if your design isn't quite there. Just remember that lower resolution images may result in a blurry or pixelated image once we print it on the t-shirt. If you’re unsure what any of this means, just give us a call and we’ll be happy to assist you!

We also recommend asking to have your design printed on a 100% cotton t-shirt for the best results. DTG is still a relatively new technology, so it can be pretty picky about what kind of garments it will print on.

The Direct to Garment Printing Process

The setup for printing a DTG shirt is pretty simple! There are three main phases to the DTG process: pretreatment, printing, and curing.

1. Pretreating

First, the shirt must be pretreated with a clear solution that assists the garment in accepting ink from the printer. It prevents the ink from washing off, as well as enhancing the color vibrancy of the design. Think of the pretreatment solution as a kind of paint primer, allowing the shirt's fibers to accept the printer's ink on its surface instead of just straight up being a color sponge and soaking it all up.

2. Printing

Once the shirt is pretreated and dried, we then place the shirt into the DTG printer, load up the digital artwork we’ve prepared from your design, and the printer goes to work. If it’s printing on a dark-colored shirt, it first lays down a layer of white ink to enhance the vibrancy of the final print. After that’s done, it starts working in the rest of the colors on top of the white ink layer. Like a standard Inkjet printer, it uses a mix of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink to recreate the colors in your design. Soon after, your masterpiece is completed on the t-shirt.

3. Curing and Finalizing

In the last step of the process, we do one final drying to cure the ink, ensuring that the printed design is able to resist any elements that dare threaten your artwork, including the washing machine. After the curing process is complete, your shirt is ready to be worn!

There may be some residual marks on the shirt as a result of the pretreatment process, but this is normal and will be gone after first wash. A simple rinse cycle in the washing machine should be sufficient to make that custom tee look perfect.


Why should I choose Direct to Garment for my custom shirt instead of Heat Transfer Vinyl or Screen Printing?

DTG printing can quickly produce short order, high-detail, full color designs. Screen Printing is more ideal for large orders, while Vinyl is better for simple designs with less color and works on a larger variety of fabrics.

Is there a minimum order on DTG shirts?

Because the DTG process requires little setup, there is no minimum order on DTG prints. You can order as few as 1 shirt if you want a shirt that is literally one-of-a-kind!

How do I provide you my design?

We can DTG print from almost any digital image file you provide us, but the ideal design should be a high resolution image. A vector file is best, but we accept raster images like a JPG or PNG, just make sure they are high resolution, with a minimum of 300 DPI. If you want a transparent background, make sure you submit a PNG with a transparent background; otherwise it may print with a white background, even on a dark-colored shirt.

What kind of t-shirts can you DTG print on?

DTG printing works best on 100% cotton t-shirts to achieve the best color vibrancy. However, a poly-cotton blend can also result in a good quality print as well, depending on its cotton content. Don’t fret about finding a suitable fabric on your own as we have a variety of cotton shirt styles that you can choose from to make your ideal custom tee.

Can you DTG print on a hoodie?

If the hoodie has a high cotton-to-polyester ratio, DTG printing will work well on it. However, most hoodies are 50/50 polyester cotton blend, which is not ideal for a good-looking DTG print. Luckily, we can provide you with a high-cotton content hoodie if you don’t have one yourself!

Can I provide my own shirt?

Because DTG works best with certain fabrics, we recommend you choose from our selection of shirt styles that are suitable for DTG printing.

Can you print on dark/black shirts?

Absolutely. DTG can create wonderful images on both light and dark-colored shirts.

Are there any color limitations, and does it cost more to print a shirt with more colors?

DTG can reproduce any color imaginable. There are no limits or extra fees to print with more colors!

Can you DTG print specialty prints like glow-in-the-dark or glitter?

Unfortunately, no. Specialty prints like glow-in-the dark or glitter are not available through our DTG service. We do, however, offer such special effects via Screen Printing or Heat Transfer Vinyl.

How long does a DTG printed shirt last?

It should last as long as the fabric it’s printed on does. The general rules you can follow are to wash it inside out without harsh detergents and air dry when possible.

I just had my shirt printed. Why does it have dark markings and an odd-feeling texture to it?

We guarantee a quality t-shirt with every print. The markings and texture are just a result of the DTG pretreatment process to assist the ink with adhering to the t-shirt. This is normal and will go away after you wash the shirt for the first time.

Got any more questions?

If your question wasn’t answered here, you can contact us via phone or email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

Talk To A T-Shirt Design Specialist!