DTG A Brief History
Whilst it wasn’t until 1996 that the ‘Revolution’ DTG printer was made commercially available it’s believed that the technology had first been in use by a French garment printing company Embleme as early as 1994 as part of government-funded project that ended in 1997. Developed by Matthew Rhome in the U.S while working for DIS the ‘Revolution’ printer was on the market until 1998. Rhome left to begin development of the first Brother DTG printer the GT-541. It was available on the market from 2005 and brought about the introduction of white ink technology that enabled quality printing on dark garments.
How Does it Work
Similar to a household printer Direct to garment printing uses inkjets to print onto textiles. The specialist aqueous inks are engineered to work best on natural fibres. Garments are pre-treated to ensure a flat surface for the ink to adhere to and to promote ink drying. The printers use interchangeable platens to hold the garment securely whilst the ink is deposited onto the apparel. As it’s a digital process the printer can produce much greater detail at a higher resolution this allows for even greater complexity of artwork, whether from vector or pixel graphics. Gradients and photographic detail for example are much easier to achieve in DTG printing when compared with more traditional methods.
When to DTG
As each garment takes several minutes to output the DTG process suits lower number batches of garments. It is highly suited to more complex and detailed artwork. The printer produces a faithful reproduction of photographic detail with few restrictions on colour when outputting from high resolution artwork. DTG printing needs no physical setup up so works out cheaper than screen printing. As screen printing artwork with more than one colour involves a screen setup per colour this means additional setup costs compared with none using the DTG printing method.
In short DTG printing is a cost effective way of producing quality samples and limited runs of garments with accurate, vibrant reproduction of photography, illustration and colour graphics.