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Friday
Feb162018

Direct-to-Garment vs. Dye-Sublimation Printing

So, you want to start printing your images on something other than paper, but what technology is right for you? How do you know if you should invest in a direct-to-garment or in a dye-sublimation printer?

There are some key differences between these two methods and the machinery, so let’s break some of them down.

The first main thing you should be aware of is that, as the name implies, direct-to-garment (or DTG) is specifically for (you guessed it) garments. This includes t-shirts, hats, bags, onesies, pillowcases, shoes and more. If you want flexibility to use your prints on hard substrates (wood, metal, mugs, etc.) in addition to soft materials, then go no further. Dye-sub printing is what you need between these two choices. If, on the other hand, textiles will be your medium of choice then DTG needs to stay on the table.

The second thing you should know is how these processes work. DTG printers will print directly onto the material. While still using a heat press to cure the ink (340 degrees Fahrenheit for 70 seconds), the process is a little faster. Dye-sublimation requires you to print your image first to a transfer paper, then press the printed paper, using either a rotary or flat heat press, to the substrate (400 degrees Fahrenheit for varied amounts of time depending on the material).

There is a difference in the ink technology that both printers use. For garment printing, DTG ink will lay on top of the material. The ink for direct-to-garment comes in cyan, magenta, yellow, black and white and these prints will be as durable as screen prints. Dye-sublimation ink is dyed into the garment and becomes one with the material. There is no white ink, only cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Prints made with dye-sub technology will fade over time with UV light exposure.

As far as textiles go, both technologies have different limitations and capabilities. Direct-to-garment printers are capable of printing on cotton, 50/50 cotton/poly blend, bamboo and even silk. However, you should know that the higher the cellulose content in the material, the better the ink will adhere to it which means the image quality and durability increase as well. DTG allows you to print onto any color, so you have more freedom when choosing your fabric. Dye-sublimation works best when the polyester content of the material is highest. The material must be polymer coated or a poly material. The material also must be white for the ink to show up properly, which can limit your choices when choosing what to print on.

Another major difference is available printing area. DTG prints can be up to 16” x 20” while dye-sub prints have a much larger range of print sizes. Dye-sublimation printers come in 44” and 64” sizes, which means you can have a print width of up to 43.77” or 63.6”, giving you the greatest amount of flexibility in what you can print on.

If you’re not sure which process best fits your needs, we would love to explore these technologies further with you to match you with the right printer. Our textile print specialists can go through both processes to make sure that you have the right tools for your business. Click here to learn more about our available printers or give us a call at (800)771-9665. Happy printing!

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Reader Comments (1)

Great post; very informative; Good comparisons revealed in two printing methods. You can find great deals on Splashjet India for sublimation ink and DTG Ink.

October 5, 2018 | Registered CommenterAnuradha Gokhale
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