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October 23, 2021 5 min read

When we talk about the most popular custom t-shirt printing methods, no doubt Direct to Garment and Screen Printing win the most votes. These two methods are affordable, user-friendly and hence got famous in the custom apparel printing world. But, you cannot use them both at once. You need to choose one which brings us to the questions- Which is the best printing method- Screen printing or Direct to garment (DTG) printing? 

Well, in this post we have explained both the printing methods at length and also answered a few questions about them. We aim to cater to your curiosities and hope the information below sorts the purpose. 

What is DTG Printing?

DTG Printing

Direct to Garment (DTG) is the latest printing method that offers fine prints and high-quality printing. In this type of printing, a digital printer is used to print directly onto the fabric and create fine designs. The ink used in the process is water-based and hence is quick-absorbing and long-lasting.

What is screen printing?

Screen Printing

Screen Printing is also a famous printing technology used frequently by custom apparel makers. In this process, a special ink is pushed through custom-made screens onto the fabric to make the print. 

The process is lengthy as for every color used in the design, a separate screen is used. This also implies that the design when created is broken down into different color frames and then separate screens are made for each one of them. 

The results are of high quality and hence it remained a popular printing technique for several decades. 

So, what are the core differences between DTG printing & screen printing? Let’s find out!

The Process:

First thing first, the process of both the printing techniques differs a lot. While one is a simple process where a digital printer is used to print the design onto the fabric, screen printing is more time-consuming as different screens are made for different colors and then the final printing takes place. 

The design:

The design is broken into different colors as single-color screens are prepared in screen printing. This is a long process. On the other hand, digital printing designs are created digitally once and then directly printed onto the fabric. 

The results:

In screen printing, the final design is printed in several layers of fabric. As for every color a different screen is used, the printing is thicker. However, the design thus printed is durable, vibrant 

In Direct to Garment, the design is printed in a single layer and hence is finer. In DTG printing, the final design gives a slightly faded effect but it still appears fine. 

Choice of colors:

The choice of colors in screen printing is limited. You need to choose a design according to the color choices available. However, with Direct to Garment printing, there is no limitation on color choices. You can choose any design and get it printed. 

FAQs Related to DTG & Screen Printing

    • Is digital printing more expensive than screen printing?

Cost is one of the major differentiation between the two processes. However, the cost of screen printing and DTG printing widely depends on the project specifics.

Cost of screen printing: 

If you are processing bulk orders, you must consider screen printing. Because the process uses a stencil, the cost of the setup is high and hence it is recommended to use it for large quantity printing. 

Another important consideration is the use of colors. If you are using more coos, the cost of the setup will again go high as you will have to make different screens for each color. 

With screen printing, you can enjoy cost savings by running large batches as one master stencil is used for several prints. 

Cost of DTG printing:

Opposite to screen printing, DTG printing is cost-effective when you are running small orders. The cost is however not affected by the number of colors chosen for the design. Running large size printing can cost more in terms of time and ink and hence makes the process expensive.

Choosing small batch sizes is the best way to save money and make DTG printing cost-effective.  

    • What's the difference between a digital print and a screen print?

Apart from the process of printing, the final print result of both the services also differ. The print quality in DTG printing is a little faded as the ink is transferred to the fabric in one single layer. Moreover, the ink used is water-based which means that it is also well absorbed by the fabric for a long-lasting effect. 

Screen printing on the other hand gives a fine print. As different stencils are used for different colors and then a design is made, there are several layers of color coating on top of each other. The design thus appears vibrant on the fabric and also is highly durable. It is reported that screen-printed design can last for at least 50 washes or beyond. 

This simply concludes that both the printing methods are suitable for different types of fabrics and hence must be used accordingly. If your design is simple, a graphically stylized design, or a text with selective colors, you must pick screen printing. 

However, if you are considering a more complex and multi-colored design, you must choose Direct to Garment printing.

    • Which lasts longer screen printing or DTG?

Direct to Garment printing has always been criticized for the durability of its prints. When DTG printing first came into existence, the printed garments hardly survives 10 washes. After frequent washes, the colors would start fading however, the same does not happen anymore. Nowadays the Direct to Garment printed t-shirts last much longer than that. 

The durability of DTG printing widely depends on the efficiency of the printer, the quality of the inks, pretreatment as well as the under base. 

Now, let’s discuss the durability of screen printing. There is no washing concern when you are choosing screen printing. You can wash screen-printed shirts as many times as you want without worrying about any fading. However, if the ink is applied incorrectly or not cured properly, you sure can experience some problems. 


Screen printing and direct to Garment printing have their own pros and cons. choosing one over another would be tough as each technology is better in its own terms. You can consult with our experts at Custom One Online and let them guide you. We consider a range of factors such as the type of fabric, design complexity, number of apparel and much more to decide which one would be the better method for you. 

If you are all set to get your custom apparel printed, connect with us now