Direct to Garment printing (DTG) and screen printing are amongst the most popular methods to choose when printing designs on garments such as custom tee-shirts. But what’s the difference between direct to garment printing and silk screen printing? And when should you choose direct to garment versus screen printing?


The methods

Many people are familiar with screen printing (also known as silk screening) as it is an older and more popular method of printing images on fabric. Screen printing is performed by use of a stencil and ink. A meshed stencil or screen is placed over a piece of fabric and the ink sprayed or pushed over the stencil. The space on the meshed stencil allows the ink to pass through the garment creating a design.

Direct to Garment printing on the other hand, is a newer technology where the printing of digital images from a computer to a piece of fabric is performed using a special inkjet printer. The inkjet printer sprays the ink directly onto the garment producing desired designs and images. The specialized ink used contains a fusing agent that enables it to adhere permanently to the fabric.


Pros and cons of Direct to Garment versus Screen printing

A line of squeegees used in the silk-screen printing process await their next job at T-Shirt Engineers in Grand Island. Opening in 1981, the business is celebrating its 30th year of operation. (Independent/Barrett Stinson)

Pros of screen printing

  • Traditional method used in the past before invention of the inkjet technology.
  • Good for simple designs using block colours and shapes.
  • Cost effective for bulk orders. Usually cheaper the more your order.
  • Design can be placed almost anywhere.
  • Brighter colours and thicker inks.
  • Works on all types of material (Nylon, Cotton, Spandex, Polyester, Blends)

 Cons of screen printing

  • Only one design and colour can be printed at a time making the process fairly slow.
  • Includes a set up time as templates have to be prepared before the printing can be done.
  • Can only print simpler shape designs with limited detail.
  • Template means only one design per batch and set up.

Direct to Garment versus screen printing

Pros of Direct to Garment (DTG) printing

  • Modern fabric digital printing technique.
  • Fast with little to no set-up time as the coloured designs are directly printed by the inkjet printer.
  • No template makes this method good for small quantities, one-off designs or a variety of different designs.
  • Best for highly detailed designs, photographs and images.
  • Extensive colour and shade options. The inkjet printer uses a number of ink cartridges and hence you can be able to achieve any shade of colour that you need.
  • Inkjet technology allows the ink to be attached straight to the fabric making it feel like part of the fabric. This produces fine quality prints that are long lasting and don’t get damaged easily.

Cons of Direct to Garment (DTG) printing

  • Cost of printing is not affected by number of garments, so no discounts for large quantities.
  • Limited placement of designs- can be limiting for all over designs.
  • Not good for metallic, glow in the dark or UV sensitive colours.
  • DTG inks take to different fabrics differently. They are designed to print on cotton and other untreated natural fibers and may not perform well on fabrics such as polyester.



For a higher quality detail or small quantities, DTG can be the better choice than screen printing due to the advanced technology used, fine results, details and colours obtained. However silk screen printing is cost effective for bulk printing of simple designs and colour.

Still not sure what method to choose? Contact us today