Digital printing (also known as “direct to garment”, or DTG) has really taken off in the past decade. It has become a major player in the apparel printing industry. More and more businesses these days are moving over to all digital printing or a mix of screen printing and digital. If you are just getting into the t-shirt printing business, or have been screen printing for years, you should take a serious look at investing in a digital printer.
So what exactly is digital printing? In the most basic terms, it’s the equivalent of running a t-shirt through your inkjet printer, resulting in a high quality piece of printed apparel. Similar to dye-sublimation printers, a digital printer uses sublimation ink. This type of ink has a special characteristic of being able to change state from a solid directly to a gas, without going through a liquid phase (picture dry ice). This ability is triggered by applying heat directly to the ink. Skipping the liquid state means less mess, but more importantly, your t-shirt is ready for immediate usage after printing. There is no need for a drying period.
A digital printer is an investment. It’s not the same as running down to your local electronic store and picking up an inkjet printer. Digital printers can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $200,000. If this is not within your budget, you should consider purchasing a used printer, or even leasing one (expect around $250 per month). The investment you put towards a digital printer will be paid back in money you save in labor and time. Once you have acquired a digital printer, there is practically no setup time, and minimal training required. In no time at all you will be printing high quality t-shirts, ready to wear right off the press.