The Difference Between Print and Cut Vinyl and DTG Printing

Screen printing is our specialty and we print thousands of t-shirts every week with vibrant designs, but sometimes our clients’ designs need a little more than screen printing. Graphics that have intricate artistic elements or a multitude of colors may warrant one of our other specialty printing services such as print and cut vinyl or direct to garment (DTG) digital printing. Both of these options result in bright designs with tons of detail. They are much more durable than your average iron-on so they will last and keep looking great.

Not sure which service to choose? Here’s what you need to know about print and cut vinyl and Direct to Garment printing.

Print and Cut Vinyl

Print and cut vinyl uses the same type of machine and ink that creates car wraps so you know it’s pretty darn durable. Since the vinyl used is very light-weight it doesn’t weigh down the shirt either. Designs that are ideal for print and cut vinyl have tons of color and plenty of detail. Print and cut vinyl is perfect for transferring photographs to tees.

The other component is shape, the best print and cut vinyl designs have a distinct and defined shape. While the graphic doesn’t have to be an exact square or circle (though that is ideal), designing is easier if it has defined space. Images that trail off or fade into the t-shirt may be better off with DTG.

One of the major benefits print and cut vinyl has over DTG is durability. The design is transferred onto the vinyl material and then pressed into the shirt. The graphic’s ink is not embedded in the shirt fibers so it doesn’t stretch and crack with the garment. Also, since it isn’t inked into the shirt, the design won’t fade with the fabric over many, many washes.

Printed Vinyl - Sample 2

Direct to Garment Digital Printing

DTG can create some amazing designs and are ideal for more artistic graphics that have unique shapes. In terms of design, nothing can beat the versatility of DTG. When an image is disbursing out or fading into the garment, this is the perfect service.

White shirts are the best for DTG because when you print on a white tee you can print the design directly into the shirt. On a white t-shirt, you can’t even feel the design on the fabric like you would a screen printed design. While black tees tend to be more stylish, they require more work with DTG.

First, you need to pretreat the t-shirt with a liquid to create an under base that will prevent the darkness of the shirt to effect the color of the inks and the design.  It needs a clear base so when the water-based ink is printed on the tee it gels up. When the second layer of ink hits the pre-treatment liquid that’s been dry under the shirt it gels up becoming a substantial type of material that you can print on to create a vibrant design. This process also requires heating and drying the layers more than once, which makes the process pretty long and extensive.

Digital - Sample 9

The Verdict

In terms of cost and durability, print and cut vinyl is the more effective and popular option chosen by most of our customers. Not to downplay DTG, there are designs that are absolutely optimal for this process. If you are unsure which process is best for your design hit up our live chat with a design specialist or give us a call today.

Ways to Prevent Dye Migration on Custom T-Shirts

Dye migration is a common problem in screen printing. The combination of darker hues and polyester fabrics could spell disaster if a shirt or garment is not printed or treated properly. Being professionals, we have developed methods to prevent this from happening.


Also referred to as bleeding or dye sublimation, dye migration is common with darker hues, specifically red, navy, maroon, or sometimes dark greens when using polyester garments.  We find that the using lighter colored tees and darker inks in the design will never have dye migration issues. Think about it, you can’t see light pink dye through black screen printed ink. The right color combination could save your printer a lot of time and effort.

If your design does not fall into those parameters, Rush Order Tees has seen enough orders to know exactly how to handle dye migration.

First, we always use high-quality t-shirts and garments. The better the canvas, the better your final product will be. We also review the design to see if it may require under basing, which is the process of putting a layer of lighter colored ink to make sure the design stays vibrant. For example, yellow is another troublesome ink. When printing yellow ink on a black polyester tee, we would place a layer of white ink underneath which doesn’t fall victim to dye migration often. It blocks the black and makes the yellow stand out.

According to screen printers, Catspit Productions, “The real cause of dye migration is simply the fact that the dyes in the polyester fabric sublimates or turns gaseous when heated to about 330 degrees Fahrenheit during the curing of the plastisol ink. Then the dye, in gaseous form, seeps into the ink layer thus tinting it the color of the shirt.”

The number one way to solve this problem is to always pay close attention to the temperature when a shirt is in the curing process. It is recommended to drop the temperature to 320 degrees to prevent dye migration since heat is the element that causes dye migration. recommends allowing additional cool-down time before stacking and packing the tees. If heat is still trapped in the garment it could result in a “ghost image” on the tee stacked on top.

Ghost image

They also recommend printing several samples when dealing with a dye migration-prone project. Since Rush Order Tees uses an in-house facility we are easily able to monitor our samples and products as they come off the line.

We assess the design along with carefully processing the order with the proper temperature and extra care needed to ensure your garment does not suffer from dye migration.

The Benefits of Underbasing in Screen Printing

Underbasing is the process of creating a base layer of ink on a garment so that the ink’s tone or vibrancy will not be affected by the color of the shirt. This is commonly used on black or very dark colored garments. There are two main options when creating a design that requires underbasing.

The Process

One common practice is to print two layers of each ink color. This way each of the colors builds up to the shade needed for the design. The downside of this is that it can become very time consuming. Each color will have to be printed and flashed, then cooled before the next layer can be added. The upside is that the colors will stay crisp and always be the perfect tone.

The next method is to create a white layer of the entire design. Once there is a flat layer of white ink on the design it creates a solid “canvas” that will be a barrier between the dark tone of the shirt and the light color of the ink. The downside of this method is that every so often the white will peek out from underneath the design on the edges. In order to prevent this from standing out awkwardly, uses a light color that is already part of the design so it matches. Even if it peeks out, it will be a part of the design’s natural color palette and look perfectly normal. The color itself doesn’t matter, it’s about the layering of colors to prevent the tee color from dulling the tone you want, but as always, we work diligently to prevent these issues from even arising.

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The Benefits

The main benefit of using just one underbase layer for the whole design is the simple fact that you will save tons of time. If you have a five color design and you have to layer each color, you will be inking and curing the shirt twice, which means it will go around the press ten times. If you do one solid layer, then the shirt is only pressed one additional time, saving tons of time as well as cost.

We feel our underbasing process is effective in producing high-quality customized garments. It also speeds up the process — we’re called after all.

Looking for more information on under-basing? Here is a great video from our friends at Catspit Productions.