What’s The Difference Between Screen Printing and Direct to Garment Printing?

Want to know how to print designs on shirts and other custom gear? At RushOrderTees.com, we have our ways… some of which are the most popular printing methods on the market.

Screen printing and direct-to-garment (DTG or digital printing) both produce awesome, great-quality prints on apparel. To illustrate both methods, we printed the same design on two different t-shirts as a comparison:


Not much of a difference, right? It’s not that one printing method is better than the other. The choice on which to use really depends on:

  • Order size
  • Number of colors in your design
  • Budget

Here, we further explain both methods to help you find out what’s right for your order.

What is Screen Printing?

Screen printing (or silk screen printing) is the industry’s standard method and has been for years. Ink is pressed through screens onto your apparel, layering on one color at a time (this can be done with an automatic machine or manually by our experts).

This process ensures that the color placement is exact—whether it’s on the front, back, or sleeve of the t-shirt—resulting a clear, vivid design.

Advantages of Screen Printing:

  • You can screen print almost any image on virtually any fabric
  • Your designs can be one simple shade or feature several colors
  • Cost-effective if you’re ordering large batches of the same design (team logos, fundraising t-shirts, company attire)

Limitations: Because ink is applied in layers, the finish on the shirt may feel slightly thicker than with DTG.

What is Digital or Direct to Garment Printing?

DTG is a newer market technology that uses water-based ink and a large apparel printer to print your design directly onto the garment; you could think of it as a big digital screen printer. DTG printing works best on 100% ringspun cotton apparel’s smooth surface. Check out our in-depth look into the DTG printing process to learn even more.

Advantages of DTG Printing:

  • You can print any size order with any amount of colors
  • Very detailed and vivid images on the apparel
  • Final product feels super-soft and “flat”
  • DTG is the best way to print photos on t-shirts, as well as print intricate art

Limitations: DTG can’t print neons, metallics, or glow-in-the-dark; if you want digital printed shirts with any of these effects, contact us directly at (800) 620-1233 and one of our Product & Design Specialists can help you choose the best alternate method.

Whether it’s with screen printing or DTG digital printing, we can create awesome custom gear you’ll love. If you’re still not sure which method to choose for your order, give us a call—we will figure it out for you!

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