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Comparison Between Direct-to-Garment Printing and Dye Sublimation

by Anuradha Gokhale Marketing

Direct-to-garment printing and dye sublimation are two most popular printing methods of printing on garments. However there are some important differences between the two, it is important to understand them to select the right model for your business. This article is intended to inform you about which printing methods to go for depending on your business model. There are several printing methods to print on textiles or fabrics but these two are digital printing methods. Both methods can actually work in parallel however they are meant for different applications. You obviously need to examine your needs applications and targeted market.

DTG printing & Dye Sublimation printing

Basically the major difference is the type of material you could print on will proceed to tell you the basics direct-to-garment or DTG. A recent method of printing for your artwork is directly printed onto the garment. You just need to have a computer in order to have it printed on the DTG printer. You can print whatever designs you can think of directly onto the garment. Various materials you can print on dark or light color t-shirts, cushions jeans or any hundred percent cotton or a blend of cotton and polyester The direct-to-garment printers are becoming more suitable different of polyester as well as synthetics fabric blends. Take note that direct garment printers uses a water-based CMYK which stands for the process colors of cyan magenta yellow and black. Most of the printers also have white pigment ink so you can print on dark color garments as well.

Let’s Understand the Process of DTG Printing. First is to design your artwork from any imaging software. This image is converted by RIP software into specific instructions for the printers on where to print which color in what quantity. It also determines the quality settings you prefer that will be printed onto your garment. It is your choice to either print with high quality at the cost of time, dtg ink and money or to use faster print modes which are faster and economical. Most of the software can also indicate how much the print settings will actually cost you. Next step is loading your garment onto the DTG printer and going ahead with the printing using CMYK ink on light garment. Whereas for the dark garments white ink prints as an under base layer and CMYK is printed as overprint. In this case it's recommended to pre-treat in the dark garments so the garment will be prepared for printing. Now the last step is curing the printed ink to the fabric. You just proceed to heat press the garment for about 60-120 seconds to cure the inks. 

Proceeding to Dye Sublimation, Dye sublimation printing is also a digital printing technology that uses full-color artwork which will work with polyester and polyester coated substrates only. In this method you need to print on transfer paper, which acts as intermediate carrier. Then the inks printed on the transfer paper are sublimated to the fabrics with the help of heat transfer press. So basically it's a two-step process. Now in dye sublimation the material that is ideally used is a white 100% polyester or a blended cotton fabric. You can print on polymer coated hard surfaces. Dye sublimation process actually uses CMYK dye sublimation ink that can print on white and light color polyester textiles now. The dye sublimation print process is similar to the DTG printing process. First is to design your artwork and open it on the RIP software. Second you go on ahead and print your design on the transfer sublimation paper. You can control the setting and the quality as similar to DTG and lastly you sublimate by using a flat heat press or a roll to roll calendar so the image will be transferred from the paper to the fabric. Calendar heat press does roll to roll, sheet to roll and sheet to sheet. There are the universal flatbed heat presses which you can use for textile and hard surfaces unlike the calendar. 

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of the DTG printing. First on the list of pros is

Print on cotton - basically everyone likes to wear cotton because it is comfortable and airy when you wear it unlike sublimation which is not an ideal solution to print on cotton. So the DTG printing method is pretty simple you can literally print any sort of artwork or design you prefer on your shirt. Which is the second advantage this relates to the third and fourth point which is quick and easy as well as small working area. Because in a matter of few clicks you get your designs printed on a shirt in a small space. The size of the DTG printer doesn't really eat up all of your working space you have.

The fifth point is good color pop on print which you can see colors immediately after printing, unlike sublimation where the colors would be pale on the transfer paper until sublimated to the fabric. The last point is that the inks used by DTG are actually eco-friendly and it doesn't give out any waste. There are some machines and inks that comes with green certificates.

Going to the cons department it is not actually an industrial solution for polyester fabrics, because pigment ink will not stick properly on 100% polyester although DTG technology is developing fast to achieve the same. Next is the print durability or wash-ability that leads roughly after 60 washes. Next point the pre-treatment for dark garments it acts as a primer and allows the white ink to be printed on the t-shirt. DTG prints have a distinct noticeable feel or hand to the printed fabric. The DTG printers need significantly more maintenance. If not maintained regularly, the print-heads are damaged which are very costly. 

Let’s see pros and cons for dye sublimation transfer inks. Vibrant tones - the end result of the printouts are vibrant. The wash ability is lifetime, since the color vapors are entrapped into the fibers of the fabric. it also helps to have high fade resistance. The printing process is simple and straightforward making it a clean and easy process. One of the good advantages of dye transfer sublimation is that pre-treatment is not needed as the intermediate transfer paper is used. The materials used does not necessarily have to be fabrics; you may sublimate on hard surfaces like ceramic mugs, accessories, key chains and much more. Just make sure that hard materials are coated for sublimation.

The con's to dye sublimation transfer is that you can mainly sublimate only on light-colored substrates. Sublimation is not an ideal solution for cotton fabrics. The dye sublimation process realizes color vibrancy after transfer. Basically the colors on the sublimation paper does not show its exact vibrant color until you heat press it onto the substrate.

We hope this information helps you select printing method that is most suitable to your business model.

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About Anuradha Gokhale Innovator   Marketing

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Joined APSense since, June 12th, 2018, From Nagpur, India.

Created on Jun 29th 2018 07:23. Viewed 910 times.

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