Best Options for Digital Printing on Shirts


Posted by AllDayShirts on to Printing Techniques.

Most people like their clothes to express or represent something about themselves. They create a collection of apparel and accessories that they can mix and match to embody a style or evoke a mood. T-shirt customization is one way for folks to take outfit personalization even further. They can add their text and designs to an article of clothing, which they can then wear and display for the world to see.

Custom t-shirt makers can choose from many different methods for incorporating original concepts to blank tops. Quite a few of these methods utilize some form of digital printing, which can permanently embed highly detailed graphics into the fabric. Different techniques take different approaches, and each has its own strong suits. None are necessarily better than the rest. Still, knowing what makes each one special can help you choose which one to use for each request you receive. Here is some information about the best options for digital printing on shirts.

Direct to Garment Printing

When you want to take an image from a computer screen to a piece of paper, you get a computer printer. When you want to recreate an image from a computer on a t-shirt, you can use a similar tool. Direct to garment (DTG) printing, which relies on a tool known as a textile printer, is extraordinary in this regard. It follows an almost identical process: find or make an image, connect the computer to the machine, stock it with material, and hit print. The main difference is that you can get the design inked directly onto an article of clothing.

DTG printing can be just as precise with their recreations as more conventional paper printing. They identify each line and pixel, then work to reconstruct it in multicolored ink. As a result, you can create clothes with complex, colorful, and even photorealistic designs. This level of intricacy is next to impossible with screen printing, vinyl cut printing, and other, more popular techniques. Best of all, textile printers can produce new shirts at high speeds. Once you have the design, you can hit print and watch the machine build an inventory.

Anyone interested in running a custom t-shirt business may want to invest in a textile printer with high resolution. Otherwise, the resulting graphic may appear more grainy than desired. The cost may be steep, especially for higher-end models with features like built-in computers. Thankfully, DTG printing’s excellent quality and speedy production can help you make back the cost in a short time.

Laser Etching

Firing a laser at a shirt sounds like it could only end in disaster. Doing so and expecting it to leave a fashionable design sounds like something out of science fiction. Despite what you may assume, the future is here. Laser etching is another computer-controlled method for printing on shirts, and it works like a charm. Once you finalize the image and/or text and program the laser, it will burn the dye off the topmost layer of the fabric. It is just hot enough to reproduce the desired design, but not powerful enough to destroy the shirt.

The result of laser etching is a customized garment with images and text that are practically permanent and impossible to remove. One feature that is utterly unique to this technique is the laser’s ability to overcome seams, zippers, buttons, and other non-fabric elements. Also notable is that, despite assumptions to the contrary, the laser causes no damage to the cloth. This feat may not sound unusual except that it works fine for waterproof clothes and shirts with similar types of features. On top of everything, the design itself looks smooth.

Unfortunately, there is no way to produce color on shirts with a laser — other than grey, of course. It is only suited for creating graphics that work in silhouette form. With that said, lasers can be highly precise in the shapes that they form. You can find artistic value and success by focusing on intricate linework above all else.

Sublimation Printing

Sublimation is a scientific term describing the conversion of a solid into a gas without any intermediary stage. The process has plenty of practical applications, one being the instant transfer of ink onto fabric. Sublimation printing may not seem like a method of digital printing on shirts. After all, it requires manually applying a heat press onto a specialized paper substrate until the ink bleeds onto the cloth. However, you do need a computer and a printer to get the design on the substrate in the first place.

As with every method for t-shirt customization, the process of sublimation printing begins with the creation of a design. With that said, it is like DTG printing and laser etching in that you would create that design on computer graphics software. If the design exists in another form, then it needs to be scanned onto said software and tweaked as needed. Then, you apply the design to a special type of paper with a special type of ink — both should be designed specifically for sublimation. Lastly, you get hands-on with a heat press, or a household iron if you do not have one.

Much like DTG printing, the sublimation approach is excellent for creating t-shirt graphics that are photographic in quality. Similar to laser etching, the process leaves a permanent impression — the design will not wash off, crack, or vanish over time. Where it stands out is that the graphic can cover the entire shirt, including the front, back, sides, and sleeves. These qualities make for eye-popping and long-lasting personalized outfits.

Digital Printing on Shirts at

Whether you prefer DTG printing, laser etching, or sublimation, all three digital methods are excellent for customizing clothes. All three are also available as options here at All Day Shirts, along with other, more analogue techniques. We can help create one-of-a-kind tops for customers and assist merchants in offering lines of personalized shirts. Visit our online store today so you can learn more about each method and see what we can do together.

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