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What is DTG printing?

Author: Anna R., 10.06.2024

Digital textile printing is a modern digital printing process. DTG stands for "direct to garment". It is used particularly for print-on-demand. It is a textile printing technique in which a digital motif is printed onto the fabric using a textile printer. This means that no complex preparation is required, such as with a screen printing process. This saves costs and creates greater flexibility with cost-effective production for small and individual runs. 

The result of the DTG printing depends on the material and the textile surface. Higher resolutions are achieved on smooth surfaces than on coarse fabrics. Cotton fabrics are ideal for digital textile printing, which mainly uses water-based pigment ink.  

DTG printing process

Dthe printer for the DTG printing can be compared to an inkjet printer. Instead of printing on paper, the DTG printing machine printed on textiles. are highlyqualitative print heads and colors are used to transfer a motif onto the textiles. Depending on the printing system, different printing processes are distinguished, which influence the result. Basically, the DTG printing process consists of four processes: pretreatment, design, printing and fixing.  

Pretreatment

With white textiles, the colors are absorbed directly into the fabric, while with colored textiles a white base is needed so that the colors shine. With theem so-called Pre-coating white ink is absorbed and sticks to the surface of the textile fabric. The fabric to be printed absorbs the white ink almost completely. The pretreatment depends on the printing system. For example, with a Kornit Printing machine that Pre-coating are automatically applied during the printing process, while other machines an external device is used.  

Design

After the Pre-coating will its general Graphics are prepared and the design is converted into a printable file. Depending on the printing machine and application, the design may be Pre-coating The preparation and conversion of the Grafik often finds itself in raster image processing with a RIP software which creates a white background. In the raster image process, the images can be converted into pixels via rasterization and are passed on to the printer as rasterized data.  

Printing & Fixation

During the printing process, the white background is applied and then the colors are printed. The color is then fixed. This completely bonds the ink to the textile and makes it more wash-resistant. This fixation takes place in a tunnel dryer or a heat press. In order to achieve a good result, the processes must be well coordinated with one another.  

To ensure long-lasting and durable printing during washing, special printing inks are used. DTG printing Mainly water-based pigment ink is used, which is particularly suitable for cotton fabrics and blended fabrics.  

Colors

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To create a print file in DTG printing The colors are to be created in the RGB space. A conversion software separates the colors into CMYK and white channels on a printing machine. The colors are automatically generated from CMYK and white. Direct textile printing thus results in a strong color depth, in contrast to screen printing, where the number of colors is limited. The DTG printing is particularly suitable for photorealistic motifs with versatile color gradients.  

Im DTG printing File formats that support transparency are suitable, for example PNG, JPEG, TIFF, PSD, EPS, SVG, AI. A transparent background or a cut-out motif must be present, especially for colored fabrics. Rasterized layers and the reduction of the background as well as semi-transparency with an alpha channel below 100% are necessary. The colors change depending on the background color.  

Neon colors, metallic and spot colors are among the special colors that are difficult to realize in digital textile printing, whereby the template for neon colors in particular differs greatly from the print. Spot colors, on the other hand, can be simulated and reproduced in the CMYK color space. Gold, for example, corresponds to an Oka color. Silver is comparable to a gray color.  

Application

Im DTG printing No stencil or film production is necessary as with screen printing. This makes the digital process particularly suitable for small and individual runs. The costs are independent of the number of pieces. For larger runs, the screen printing process is suitable because the costs are lower with larger numbers of pieces. 

Direct textile printing is used primarily in e-commerce. Printing single runs is inexpensive and easy thanks to print-on-demand printing. The textiles are only produced and shipped after the order is placed. Storage and the associated costs are eliminated. This means that the customer receives a cost-effective, personalized textile.  

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