Understanding Direct-to-Garment Printing: The Pros and Cons

Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing is a technique that enables direct printing onto fabric using specialized printers. These printers can apply the design directly onto the material, or the design can be transferred using a heat press. It utilizes specialized or modified inkjet technology and has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its versatility and efficiency in producing vibrant, detailed designs.  As with any technology, direct-to-garment printing comes with its set of advantages and disadvantages. In this blog, we will talk about the pros & cons of DTG printing to give designers, entrepreneurs, and hobbyists a clearer understanding of when and why to use this printing technique. Let’s discuss it in detail!

Advantages of DTG Printing 

Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing is increasingly favored for custom apparel because it combines versatility, speed, and cost-efficiency. Here are the reasons why people prefer DTG printing over other traditional printing methods.

Wide Variety of Colors and Designs

DTG printing stands out for its capability to handle a vast array of colors and complicated designs with precision. Unlike screen printing, which needs separate screens for each color, the DTG printer operates much like a paper printer, applying ink directly onto the garment. This allows for the reproduction of full-color images with photo realistic quality, making it perfect for designs that involve gradients or a large number of colors.

Fast Printing Process

The speed of DTG printing is a significant advantage. Since it doesn’t require the setup involved in screen printing (like creating screens for each color), the turnaround time from designing to finishing the product is considerably shorter. This makes DTG highly suitable for large-scale production and for quickly fulfilling small custom orders, catering effectively to businesses and individual consumers.

Minimal Setup Cost

One of the most compelling advantages of DTG printing is its minimal setup cost. Traditional methods like screen printing involve considerable setup efforts, which can be costly. This setup cost is amortized over large runs, making small orders economically unfeasible. In contrast, DTG requires little more than the digital file of the design, significantly lowering the barrier to entry for small runs and making it an ideal option for many startups & small businesses that require frequent updates to their apparel offerings.

Works on Colored Garments

Direct-to-garment printing is exceptionally flexible and capable of handling a variety of colored fabrics with ease. Traditional printing techniques often require multiple layers of under-base ink to show on dark fabrics, complicating the process properly. So, if you are considering the best DTG printers, remember these can adapt quickly, allowing for easy switches between light and dark garments within the same production run. This capability enables businesses to offer a wider range of products & cater to various customer demands.

High-Quality Results

The quality of DTG prints is notably high. The ink used in direct-to-garment printing penetrates the fabric, creating a more durable bond than the superficial adherence seen in some other methods. As a result, the printed designs are less prone to peeling or fading. Moreover, the advanced resolution of DTG printers means that even the most detailed designs and vibrant colors are reproduced precisely, ensuring that the finished product closely matches the intended design.


Finally, direct-to-garment printing is an eco-friendly option. It uses water-based inks, which are significantly less harmful to the environment than plastisol inks used in screen printing. This makes it safer for the environment, producers, and consumers handling the printed products. Additionally, the precision of DTG technology helps reduce overproduction, one of the textile industry’s significant environmental issues. This capability aligns with growing consumer demand for sustainable production practices and helps brands cater to a market that values ecological sensitivity.

Disadvantages of DTG Printing

Despite its advancements and capabilities in producing high-quality, detailed designs, there are several drawbacks to DTG printing. Some of them are listed below:

High Initial Investment

One of the most significant barriers to entry for direct-to-garment printing is the cost of the equipment. High-end DTG printers, like the Epson SureColor F2100 and the more industrially oriented Epson SureColor F3070, command prices of approximately $15,000 and $50,000, respectively. This substantial initial investment can be a deterrent for small businesses or startups that are budget-conscious and may need more financial flexibility to afford such advanced technology.

Material Limitations

DTG printing primarily supports 100% cotton fabrics, which significantly limits the range of materials used. While cotton is a popular choice for many garments due to its comfort and hypoallergenic properties, this restriction prevents businesses from exploring a broader variety of textiles. Consequently, businesses are unable to cater to customers seeking prints on polyester blends, silk, or other specialized fabrics that do not accommodate the ink used in DTG printing.

Restricted Design Placement

Another notable disadvantage of DTG printing is the limitation on where designs can be placed on the garment. Standard DTG printers treat garments much like a traditional printer handles paper, meaning designs are generally confined to the front or back of the item. This setup restricts creative designs that span across the seams, such as those extending onto sleeves or wrapping around the side of the garment. This can be a limitation for businesses looking to offer innovative and unique print placements, potentially alienating customers seeking custom print locations.

Color Matching Issues

DTG printers often need help with exact color matching, which can be problematic for brands that require precise color fidelity for their logos or design elements. The color output can vary depending on fabric type, pretreatment processes, and the specific inks used. This inconsistency can lead to discrepancies between the expected and actual colors, which may not be acceptable for quality-sensitive clients.

Maintenance and Operational Costs

Beyond the initial purchase, the operation and maintenance of DTG printers involve significant ongoing costs. These machines require regular maintenance, including cleaning print heads and replacing ink cartridges, which are both costly and time-consuming. Moreover, the print heads in DTG printers are particularly sensitive and can clog easily, leading to potential downtime and additional maintenance expenses.


Direct-to-garment printing offers various advantages, such as versatility, rapid production, and high-quality outputs with eco-friendly practices. However, it presents challenges, including high initial costs, material limitations, restricted design placements, color matching issues, and significant maintenance expenses. Businesses need to weigh these factors carefully when considering DTG printing. To assist you in making an informed decision for DTG printing, we advise you to consult with our experts at Custom Embroidery. Feel free to discuss any pressing concerns or questions you may have. Our team is dedicated to providing you with the needed support. Contact us today, and let’s get started!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Started