Digitally printed t-shirts are a popular choice for custom apparel due to their ability to produce vibrant and detailed designs, with no order minimums. Unlike traditional screen printing, which involves creating a mesh screen for applying ink, digital printing utilizes advanced technology to directly apply the design onto the fabric. The process results in stunning visuals that captivate the eye. The terms “DTG” or “direct to garment”, are often used when referring to this form of garment decoration. You may have wondered if digitally printed t-shirts require different care than screen printed t-shirts. In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of digitally printed t-shirts, compare the process to screen printing, and provide essential tips on caring for your digitally printed tee to ensure the longevity of its print.
Understanding Digitally Printed T-Shirts
Digitally printed t-shirts are created using inkjet printers equipped with specialized textile inks. The printer transfers the design directly onto the fabric using a precise and intricate spraying technique. This method allows for complex and detailed artwork, making it an excellent choice for one-of-a-kind and custom-designed t-shirts. Digital printing ensures a soft and breathable feel on the fabric, as the ink becomes an integral part of the shirt, allowing it to flex and move with the material. In order to create a long lasting print, a pretreatment is often used on the print area to promote adhesion. This becomes part of the care process we will detail below.
The Printing Process: Digital vs. Screen Printing
Digital Printing: Digital printing offers several advantages over traditional screen printing. It does not require the creation of costly screens or stencils, making it more accessible for small-batch productions and custom designs. Moreover, it allows for a quick turnaround time and reduces the chances of misprints or errors, as the design is directly transferred from a digital file. This technique also enables the use of an extensive color palette, resulting in photorealistic prints with vibrant hues and intricate details. Unlike a traditional screen printing press, digitally printed apparel is created using a large printer, as seen below.
Screen Printing: Screen printing, on the other hand, involves creating a separate screen for each color in the design. Ink is then pressed through the screen onto the fabric, layer by layer, to form the final artwork. While screen printing is ideal for large-scale custom t-shirt orders, due to its volume efficiency, it may not be as cost-effective or practical for custom or limited-edition t-shirts. The volume of t-shirts is typically a good indication of what method is used when printing. Large volume, single color prints, would be a good indication of screen printing. You can see an example below of a typical screen printing press.
Caring For Your Digitally Printed T-Shirt
When it comes to care, remember that the manufacturer of the product you have chosen will provide care instructions. For the purpose of this blog, we will focus on best practices for keeping your print colors vibrant and extending the life of your new t-shirt. Each digitally printed t-shirt we create comes with a care card, detailing our suggestion care instructions.
- Wash Inside Out: When washing your digitally printed tee, turn it inside out before placing it in the washing machine. This step helps protect the outer surface from friction and agitation during the washing cycle.
- Use Cold Water: Wash the t-shirt with cold water. Using cold water reduces the risk of color bleeding and fading, as it is gentler on the fabric and the printed design.
- Mild Detergent: Opt for a mild, color-safe detergent that is free from harsh chemicals and bleach. Harsh detergents can degrade the ink and impact the vibrancy of the print.
- Gentle Cycle: Select the gentle cycle option on your washing machine to minimize the stress on the fabric and the print.
- Avoid Fabric Softeners: Fabric softeners can create a barrier on the fabric’s surface, which may affect the appearance of the print. It’s best to skip fabric softeners when washing your digitally printed t-shirts.
- Consider Air Drying: After washing, avoid using a tumble dryer. Instead, let your t-shirt air dry on a flat surface or a hanger. High heat from dryers can damage the print and cause the fabric to shrink.
Digitally printed t-shirts are a fantastic way to showcase intricate designs with vivid colors. By understanding the process of digital printing and comparing it to traditional screen printing, we can appreciate the uniqueness and versatility of this technique. Properly caring for your digitally printed t-shirt through gentle washing and air drying will help maintain the quality of the print, ensuring that you can enjoy your personalized and eye-catching custom t-shirt for a long time to come.
Choosing The Right No Minimum T-Shirt
Ready to create your own no minimum custom t-shirt online? When it comes to achieving remarkable digital printing results on t-shirts, the fabric composition plays a pivotal role. The type of fibers used in a t-shirt’s fabric significantly influences how well it absorbs and retains ink, the vibrancy of colors, and the overall durability of the print. Let’s explore why specific fabric compositions stand out as the best choices for digital printing excellence.
Cotton – A Time-Tested Classic: T-shirts made from 100% cotton have long been a favorite canvas for digital printing. Cotton’s natural fibers possess excellent ink absorption properties, allowing prints to penetrate the fabric and bond effectively. This results in rich and vivid colors that maintain their vibrancy even after repeated washes. Additionally, cotton’s soft and breathable nature ensures comfort while displaying intricate designs. Recommended product: Hanes Authentic T-Shirt
Cotton-Polyester Blends – Balance of Strength and Softness: Blended fabrics, often combining cotton and polyester, strike a balance between comfort and durability. These blends retain the ink absorption qualities of cotton while benefiting from the strength and resilience of polyester. The result is a t-shirt that not only displays digital prints beautifully but also maintains its structure and appearance after extended wear and multiple washes. Recommended product: District Unisex Re-Tee
Tri-Blend Fabrics – A Touch of Luxury: Tri-blend fabrics, typically composed of cotton, polyester, and rayon, offer a luxurious texture and drape. While maintaining some of the ink absorption properties of cotton, these fabrics introduce a unique visual and tactile dimension to digital prints. The presence of rayon lends a subtle sheen and contributes to a softer, more drapey feel, enhancing the overall aesthetic of the printed design. Recommended product: Bella + Canvas Unisex Tri-Blend Crew