Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing and screen printing are two popular choices for decorating apparel. Both result in vibrant designs that hold up and wash well. But there are key differences with each.

So, what are the differences and when should you choose one over the other?

When should you go with DTG? 

Working with a high quality photograph or detailed graphic? Then DTG is the way to go. This method uses an inkjet printer to capture every little detail and color, resulting in a high definition print. Colors are unlimited. However, the fabric choice is not. That’s because the ink is water-based and requires material that can absorb it. That’s why we stick with 100% cotton for all DTG orders.

Scalable Press

When should you go with screen printing? 

If your design is simple (e.g., a bold, typographic design) we recommend screen printing. This method involves using mesh stencils to push a thick, oil-based ink directly onto fabric. Each color requires its own stencil, so color choices are limited to up to eight standard inks, or you can choose from a list of Pantone colors that we’ll match. The result is a vibrant, durable design that’s more saturated and can be printed on virtually any fabric.

What else should I know?

We use both DTG and screen printing methods. While there are no minimums for DTG orders, we recommend a minimum of 15 garments for screen printing orders due to the setup time required. This makes screen printing an ideal choice for large orders with simple designs and just a few colors, as bulk discounts will apply. DTG is great for one-offs or small orders.

Key takeaways

DTG printing:

  • Uses water-based ink to dye the fabric
  • Works best for detailed, colorful designs
  • Requires 100% cotton for best results
  • Is cost-effective for small orders 

Screen printing:

  • Uses oil-based ink that sits on the fabric
  • Works best for simple designs with just a few colors
  • Can be done on virtually any fabric
  • Is cost-effective for large orders 

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