Contract Direct-to-Garment Printing vs Contract Screen Printing

There are various methods that can be used to create custom products, and each process has its benefits. To achieve the best possible results from a contract printing job, it’s necessary to consider a few aspects of the order and decide which option is the best choice. Contract direct-to-garment printing and contract screen printing are two widely used methods that have a variety of advantages and disadvantages. This guide will explain the steps of each process and aid you in choosing between them based on a few different factors.

What is Contract Screen Printing?

contract screen printingScreen printing is one of the oldest and most popular forms of printing custom garments. First, the desired image is made into separate screens, and each screen is meant for a single color. Then the ink is pressed through the screens onto the item to create the final design. This method includes extensive set-up time and significant labor, it typically requires a high order minimum.

The advantages of screen printing include:

  • Several different materials can be screen printed including fabric, glass, metal, plastic, and more.
  • The designs are vibrant and sharp on any background color.
  • It is cost-effective for large orders.
  • The prints are long-lasting and durable so they can withstand the washing machine and frequent use.

What is Contract Direct-to-Garment Printing?

Contract direct-to-garment printingDTG printing is a newer method than screen printing in which the image is processed by a computer, then printed directly onto the fabric of the garment. This process is similar to an inkjet printer you’d use for paper. It requires far less set-up time and labor so order minimums tend to be lower.

The advantages of direct-to-garment printing include:

  • Practically any image can be printed, including highly detailed designs like photographs.
  • It is better for smaller orders since the set-up time is so short.
  • It is better for the environment since fewer disposable materials are used.

What to Consider: Contract Direct-to-Garment Printing vs. Contract Screen Printing 

Size of the Order 

It depends on the contract printer, but order minimums are an important consideration when choosing between methods. If your order is relatively large, screen printing is likely your best option. If you’re only printing a small number of items, you should likely choose DTG. The order minimums are lower, and it’s more cost-effective than paying higher costs-per-item for a tiny screen printing job.

Screen printing: Best for larger orders.

DTG printing: Best for smaller orders.

Detail and Design

direct-to-garment printingSince screen printing requires a screen for each color, it’s best to use screen printing for order with fewer than 10-15 colors, while DTG printing can print several colors with ease. Screen printing also cannot achieve the detail that DTG printing can, so it’s best to use DTG printing for photographs and highly-detailed images.

Screen printing: Best for images with less detail and fewer colors.

DTG printing: Best for images with lots of detail and many colors.

Material and Color

Several materials of all different colors can be customized through screen printing, so there are few limitations for this method in regards to this aspect. DTG printing truly works best on 100% cotton and lighter backgrounds.

Screen printing: Works on a variety of materials and backgrounds.

DTG printing: Best for 100% cotton and lighter backgrounds.

Purpose of the Items

contract screen printingIf the garments are meant to be worn and washed regularly, screen printing is a better option since it’s more durable. DTG designs may begin to fade due to consistent usage and washing, while screen-printed designs tend to hold up far longer. If the item’s design is meant to be highly visible, like on a uniform, screen-printed items tend to be brighter and more vibrant.

Screen printing: Works well for frequently worn items and is easier to see.

DTG printing: Works best for items that are to be gently used and do not require increased visibility.

Need a Contract Printer?

contract printerStill need help deciding? Ask the experts! AIR Conway has been creating high-quality garments since 1988. We take great pride in our service and are more than willing to address all questions and concerns you may have about an order. If you are looking for a printer for contract direct-to-garment printing, screen printing, or embroidery, contact us today and we will gladly fulfill your order!