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What’s the Best T-Shirt Printing Method?

What’s the Best T-Shirt Printing Method?

What is the Best T-shirt Printing Method?


The digital textile printing industry has undergone rapid growth since 2020 and more and more options have been developed.  If you have become interested in starting your own printing business but are unsure about the differences between the various printing methods available or about which printing method may be right for you, a brief review of today’s textile printing processes may be helpful.

If you have a favorite T-shirt that you’ve worn and enjoyed for several years (and it still looks good!), it is likely a product of screen printing.  This is a widely-used process employed by moderate-to-large printing businesses because the screen printing process uses the same stencil repeatedly in order to produce a substantial amount of merchandise with that same design.  If small number of a particular design is desired, screen printing is not recommended.  Another consideration is that quality screen printing requires specialty training, practice and experience.  Finally, the screen printing process requires multiple steps and considerable storage space for the required materials and equipment.

You may also have heard of sublimation printing, another method used for transferring images onto a textile.  It normally involves the use of a digital printer to produce an image on a specially treated paper and then transferring that image onto the selected fabric. Then the paper is typically placed on the receiving material and exposed to high temperatures, via a heat press, until the ink disintegrates into the fabric. This method cannot print the color white; only designs without the color white should be used when doing sublimation printing. The best results are achieved using this process when fabrics are either white or light colored. Sublimation printing produces durable images but the process costs more than other methods.  In addition, the process is time consuming and, therefore, is usually not ideal for large orders or projects.

Another popular printing method is called Direct to Garment, or DTG. As the names indicates, the desired image is printed directly to the selected medium, such as a T-shirt, hoodie, or apron.  The DTG process is operated with reliable computer programs and DTG printers are available from several manufacturers, such as Epson.   The DTG method requires pre-treatment of the receiving fabric before the image can be transferred, and it does best on 100% cotton fabrics. 


One of the newest printing methods is Direct to Film, or DTF.  As the name suggests, the desired image is printed directly onto a specialized film that is then transferred via heat press to the desired merchandise.  This printing process is operated with reliable computer programs and printers are available in desktop size from sources such as Epson or in large commercial size from several suppliers.  

The DTF process allows almost unlimited fabric choices and does not require pre-treatment of the fabric.  In addition, this process is more versatile because DTF transfers can be pressed onto a variety of substances, such as clothing, caps, plates, mugs/glassware, and cutting boards. The DTF method is faster than other processes because there is no pre-treatment requirement or other preparatory procedures that need to be completed.  Once the desired image is transferred to the specialized film, the image can be pressed onto the selected product.  DTF prints are sharp, vivid, and durable.  Because multiple copies of the same image can be printed onto the DTF specialized film, the business owner can utilize some of the images for customers’ orders and also store some for later use.  This is definitely a time saving/customer friendly advantage. The DTF method is relatively easy to learn, is relatively fast, and results in high-quality printed merchandise.


As you can see, there are numerous methods that will print designs onto T-shirts. In order to decide what is best for you, consider your goals, the anticipated size of your production enterprise, your available budget, the time you will have available to devote to your printing endeavor, and the location/size of your production space.  


However, if you want to be up and running quickly, as a business or as a hobbyist, there is another, major consideration of which you should be aware.  You can obtain desired designs on DTF transfer film, ready to meet your customers’ needs or your hobby pursuits, without worrying about all of the equipment expenditures, space needs, and production time considerations discussed above.  DTF Transfer Zone [] is an experienced printing business dedicated to providing high quality digital heat transfers.  Using the DTF Online Designer, you can digitally transfer your images and let DTF Transfer Zone produce high-quality transfers for you.  DTF Transfer Zone prides itself on highly responsive customer service, technical assistance, fast turnaround shipping, same-day shipping and order tracking.  Let DTF Transfer Zone do the production and you do the preparation of the final product for your customers or your hobby interests.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

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