Direct To Garment Printing
Direct to Garment Printing is an effective and reliable method for apparel decoration.
We offer both CMYK-only and CMYK+White DTG printing.
Top Banana USA Printing owns and operates Espon F2000 and Brother GT-541 direct to garment printers for all of its DTG printing production. These machines are tried and true in the garment printing industry.
Digital printing (DTG) is a relatively new fabric printing method that prints an image directly onto a garment or fabric through a modified version of a traditional inkjet printer. DTG offers more flexibility than screen-printing in terms of color variation and turn-around time (especially for smaller orders).
DTG is the best option for apparel decoration when your image has a lot of colors. The quality of the image will be sharper and DTG is more cost effective than screen-printing, especially for shorter runs.
When it comes to DTG printing, there are two processes: CMYK-only and CMYK+White.
CMYK refers to the water based ink colors being used: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key which is Black.
The main difference between CMYK-only and CMYK+White is that CMYK-only cannot print on dark garments.
CMYK-only is more cost effective but can only print on white tees or lighter colored garments. This DTG process does not have white ink or white ink under-base capability, any white in the design is negative or the garment color. The ink for this process is water-based so the end print feels like it is part of garment, giving it a nice, clean fashion finish. The end print for CMYK-only will be more muted than a plastisol screen printing or CMYK+White DTG print.
Other lighter color garments such as Ash, Natural, Light Pink / Blue and so on, will be more of a vintage print. All black prints are can be printed on darker garments with some success too.
This is a two-step process that does not require pre-treatment. Once the tee shirt or garment is printed, it is then put through the curing process and that’s it!
The ink system is water based and eco friendly. The end print has no hand or, in other words, the print feels like it is part of the garment giving it a nice clean fashion finish. Top Banana caters to fashion and retail clients who love the final end print this process produces.
CMYK-only DTG can print on a cotton or cotton blend garment. While this process does not require ringspun cotton, the higher the quality and stich count, along with the tighter the weave, the better the print quality will be.
CMYK-only is much more cost effective and faster than CMYK+White.
The basic artwork requirements are flattened and high resolution. This process can be a little more forgiving with lower resolution designs.
Our CMYK+White is used:
- if you want to print on black or darker garments
- if your design has white in it and the garment you want to use is not white.
- if you want your print to pop more like a screen print
You can print on any color garment with this process. All prints are under based with white, then printed CMYK+White on the second pass.
CMYK+White process is a more labor intensive than CMYK-only DTG printing. It is a 5 step process. It requires pretreatment, heat pressing, a white print pass, a CMYK+White pass, and then curing.
CMYK+White prints will feel similar to the way a plastisol screen print feels and have some “ hand”. The reason there is a difference between the end print of a CMYK-onky and CMYK+White print is because the colored inks soak deeper into the white garment with CMYK-only, but on dark garment the colored inks bond to the top of the white ink layer.
The white ink used for CMYK+White is more for underbasing purposes. All white prints on black or dark are not recommended for this process unless if you are seeking to achieve more of a vintage white print look.
The basic artwork requirements for CMYK+White are flattened and high resolution with the background removed. This process requires either vector formatted or high resolution set to 300 dpi or higher and roughly to scale designs.
Our DTG ink solutions are engineered and designed for cotton or cotton blends only. We are capable of printing with our CMYK-only process onto polyester fabrics, but the prints, unfortunately, will not hold up through the wash cycle. CMYK+White cannot print on polyester fanbrics with our printing processes.
Heather pattern cotton/poly garments can be printed but with a vintage effect only for both DTG printing processes.
Ringspun cotton is optimal for CMYK+White. Stock or lower quality, including carded cotton, garments are not recommended with the CMYK+White process.
Here is a list of some recommend garment brands for CMYK+White:
- Hanes TaglessT
- Jerzees HiDENSI-T
- Fruit of the Loom HD line
- Next Level
- Bella & Canvas
- Cotton Heritage
Durability of DTG
Tee shirts are like cars. The better you treat it, the longer it lasts.
To ensure the life and print of the garment, there are some simple care instructions to follow:
- Always, always machine wash cold to keep any unnecessary friction from rubbing the design and use with a gentle cycle
- Turn the garment inside when washing
- Hang dry, if this is not an option, then tumble dry low
- If ironing is necessary, iron inside out on the lowest setting
- Avoid bleach and do not dry clean
Anything printed and washed, over time, will breakdown, no matter what the process. Screen-printed pastisol ink will crack over time. DTG prints usually fade over time into nice vintage. With good care you can maximize the lifespan of your digital printed t-shirt and enjoy it for as long as possible in the best condition possible.
- Easy setup
- Supports intricately detailed prints either in volume or one at a time
- Eco friendly water based inks and no emissions or harmful chemicals are used throughout the process.
- More cost effective than screen printing for smaller batches.
- Easy to print multiple colors, so full color and full image printing can be done at a much more affordable price and without lengthy and costly setup and design costs normally associated with screen printing.
- Color gradient blends are easy to accomplish
- Since the process uses inkjet technology it is much more precise and higher in detail than screen printing
The pretreat process, which is eco-friendly, may or may not leave a faint box around the print. This goes away after one wash cycle.
Pretreament is an eco-friendly liquid solution used in the CMYK+White Direct-to-Garment printing process that allows the printing and washability of white ink, or full color images on a variety of colored shirts, most commonly black shirts. The concept is simple. Just as drywall is primed with primer before painting, this primer allows the colored paint to stay on top of the drywall and not soak in. If the paint soaks into the drywall, the color selected will be muted and off color. The same is true with pretreating any DTG shirt. The pretreatment acts just like the primer in the drywall example. It allows the white ink printed through the DTG printer to adhere to and sit on top of the shirt. If the white ink soaked into the shirt, it wouldn’t be white – more of a grey, and not give a smooth surface for the CMYK inks to print on, resulting in a really bad looking, unsellable shirt. Pretreatment also reacts with the white ink. This reaction is similar to when a screen printer uses a “flash” unit to semi-cure the plastisol ink so the next colors printed on top don’t smear or mix together (a result of printing wet-on-wet). The pretreatment “flashes” the white ink causing it to change properties and become more or less a semi-solid surface so when you print CMYK on top of the white ink, it doesn’t mix and look muddy. Pretreatment is the cornerstone of direct to garment printing.
DTG versus Screen Printing
- Screen: Cost effective for large batches. Usually there is a screen charge / color.
- DTG: suitable for fulfillment , small batches . No screen charge, unlimited colors.
- Screen: lengthy set up process , including screen charge per color
- DTG: minimal set up
- Screen: Can only print more simple images // difficult to do full image
- DTG: extensive color options // ability to hold particular detail from beginning to end of run // unlimited number of print colors (with some exceptions)
- Minimums / turnaround time
- Screen : High minimum 2-6 dozen depending on how busy current production schedule , 7-10 business days
- DTG: Low minimum 6 units // turnaround 3-5 for normal sized orders.
Front of Shirt
Back of Shirt
Custom Tee Shirt Printing
Here a few ways printing custom t-shirts works great with DTG:
- Bachelor or bachelorette parties with different text and images.
- Event shirts with different designs or text on each shirt.
- Practical jokes or gag gifts for your family or coworkers.
- Last minute shirts for a game or event.
Custom Sweatshirts & HoodiesWe are able to print custom sweatshirts and custom hoodies with our CMYK-only Direct to Garment printer. Due to the nature of the pretreatment process, we currently do not offer CMYK+White DTG printing on any fleece or sweatshirt garments.
Top Banana USA has sleeve pallets and other specialty equipment for printing on sleeves, pockets and other locations.
Wholesale Shirt PrintingWhile we offer low minimums for DTG orders, wholesale shirt printing orders are easily accommodated as well. We can print anywhere from 6 shirts to over 60,000 and beyond if that is what your job requires.
Do you have a clothing line that needs fulfillment, a business that needs bulk t shirt printing or a team that needs shirts for different games at different times of the season? Top Banana can fulfill your custom shirt needs and have your bulk t shirts, tank tops, hoodies and sweatshirts ready for you in advance, when you need them. Shipping is also available if you need them on the go. Garments can be printed and shipped to meet you wherever you need them anywhere in the world.