Which is better to screen print or direct to garment (DTG) custom t-shirts? That is a question many people ask when looking to purchase custom t-shirts or even looking to start their own t-shirt print shop.

The answer to your question really can depend on all kinds of things. Such as the size of the order, turnaround time, the material of the t-shirt, and the print design.

What is the difference between screen printing and DTG?

First, you’ll need to know the difference between screen printing and DTG. Screen printing is the process of using mesh to transfer ink onto a surface. It is a long, drawn-out process, that takes a lot of time to set up and clean up.

DTG is a lot easier and cleaner than screen printing. With little setup and clean up involved. It is the process of printing on garments using specialized inkjet technology you’ll find with DTG printers.

Size of the Order

If you’re running one-offs or small production runs then DTG may be the way to go. But you’ll be limited to what material you can print on. For larger orders, it’s best to go with screen printing your custom t-shirts. As it will be more cost-effective. Of course, the more shirts you order the lower the cost of each piece. Most screen printing businesses have a minimum order quantity. Some have a minimum order quantity of 12 pieces. While others have a minimum order quantity of 144 pieces. You might also see this carry on to the DTG printing where they have a minimum order quantity of 6 pieces. But, you’ll usually see lower minimum order quantities with DTG vs screen printing.

Shirt Material

Most DTG printers do best with 100% cotton garments and blends with a high cotton content. Although some polyester is printable. If your shirt material isn’t high in cotton content then your best bet is to go with screen printing your custom t-shirts. Your screen printer can help you choose the right garments for your order.

Turnaround Time

Most screen print orders are going to take 10-14 business days to run production. Whereas, if you’re using the DTG print method you’re looking at less than a week for production time. This is why you’ll need to decide between screen printing and DTG for rush orders. As you may end up having to go with DTG printing to meet your event deadline.

Print Design

Looking at print design and which is the better option, screen printing or DTG. It really all depends. If you’re going with a more complex print design with multiple colors or want to print a photo on a shirt then DTG would be the way to go. However, if you have a simple, four colors or less logo, then screen printing would be your preferred print method.

Below, would be examples of a DTG print, which you can tell is more detailed and complex. The second one, all the above, plus multi-colored.

Example 1: Direct to Garment Print
Example 1: Direct to Garment Print on Custom T-Shirt
Example 2: Direct to Garment Print
Example 2: Direct to Garment Print on Custom T-Shirt

And this one, as shown below, would be a good example of a screen print. As you can tell it is a more simple logo with four colors or less. Or the “believe” shirt shown as the featured image of this blog post would also be a good example of a screen printed shirt.

Example: Screen Print on Custom T-Shirt
Example: Screen Print on Custom T-Shirt

Ideally, it’s better to screen print a shirt rather than direct to garment. But, as you can tell there are a lot of variables involved when deciding between the two. The most preferred choice, however, is screen printing.

Elyssa McGregor

Hi! I'm Elyssa McGregor. I love helping people succeed online and promoting businesses with our wide range of promotional products. I have a love for search engine optimization (SEO) and getting companies out there on the world wide web. How can I help you?

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