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Direct to Garment Printing Guide

Direct to Garment Printing Guide A to Z

DTG or Direct to Garment printing has revolutionized the apparel industry and is a fast and efficient way to get full color graphics onto your favorite T-Shirts and other clothing. The clothing at My Best Life Apparel is manufactured using the Direct to Garment Process. Step behind the scenes with us to learn more about the DTG business!

What is Direct to Garment Printing?

Direct to Garment refers to the process of printing ink direct on the garment or in other words textiles such as fabric, T-Shirts, Hoodies, Tank Tops, etc. The fabrics that can be printed on vary from 100% cotton fabrics to tri blends. The DTG printers use a specialized ink jet technology to disperse the ink onto the textile.

What is the DTG Process?

  1. The DTG process starts with a Pre Treatment. The Pre Treatment is applied before the printing and mats or flattens the fibers in preparation to be printed on and also chemically sets the textile for a white under-base if printing on dark fabrics.
  2. Platen Adjustment; a platen is the garment holding system
  3. Place item to be printed into position on the printer’s pallet, properly aligned.
  4. Load and send your image to the printer
  5. Start printing. Now your printer works it’s magic and begins the print. For DTG printing on dark fabrics a white under-base is printed first. The print for a standard T-Shirt size takes about 3 minutes to complete.
  6. Remove your printed item from the platen or pallet
  7. After printing the ink needs dry quickly in a heat press or a convection conveyor belt system to fully cure.
Kornit Storm Hexa DTG Printer

DTG Images

You can use any images you want for this printing style including full color and vibrant images. The recommended quality is 300 DPI or Dots Per Inch. In comparison a typical image made for the web uses around 72 dots per inch. This term is quite literal, there are 300 dots per inch which will provide a high quality print.

This printing method does not work well with transparent images and you need to use full colors.

Most printers use RGB Images and not CMYK. If an image is created in “CMYK” mode the colors may not be reproduced to exactly as wanted. When prepping your images be aware that when attempting to print in white that RGB 255 is treated as a transparent color. The RGB needs to be set to “RGB=254” for printing white.

Direct to Garment Printing Quality

DTG Printing has extensive color options and can print real photographs and portraits. The quality is the best in the industry. In comparison to the traditional method of Screen Printing the quality is similar but screen printing is unable to print photographs and can only produce designs in limited colors.

Printer Installation and Setup Tips

  • Place the printer on a sturdy table that has no shake or wobble to it
  • The table should be able to hold these machines up to around 350 pounds to be safe
  • Make sure the area is free from vibration as nearby vibrations can cause shakey prints
  • Ensure you have the proper power supply per printer’s specifications and consumption requirements
  • Avoid areas that have a strong electrical noise
  • Leave plenty of open space in front of the printer to ensure a safe and easily accessible work area
  • Do not put your hands inside the covers when the machine is turned on
  • Disconnect the power if expecting a lightning storm
  • Keep temperature between 64.4 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit for most printers. Be sure to check the manufacturers exact requirements
  • The humidity range where using should stay between 35% – 85% but my go down to 20%
  • Keep away from a dusty environment

Pre treatment Supplies

  • The pre treatment itself
  • Distilled water (if pre treatment requires dilution)
  • Roller
  • Handle for roller
  • Tray
  • Designated coating table
  • Weighing Instrument
  • Spray (if using spray pre treatment)
  • Heat Press
  • Silicone paper sheet
  • Plastic Gloves
  • Mask
  • Protective Goggles

Ink Cartridges Information

  • White Ink cartridges usually need to be shaken by hand daily
  • Never pull a cartridge out while your printer is running
  • Do not store ink in direct sunlight
  • Do not leave an ink cartridge slot empty

Recommended Graphic Software for DTG Printers

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Graphix Lab
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements
  • Corel Draw


How long does DTG printing last?

The ink is printed and dyed into the fabric itself so they last forever!

What is the difference between Direct to Garment Printing vs Screen Printing?

Screen Printing is the traditional method of applying ink using a stencil and pushing it onto the fabric. DTG printing is a new technology that prints directly on the garment itself. Screen printing is limited in colors while DTG has unlimited color options and can produce full quality photos.

What does my shirt smell like Vinegar?

This smell is from the Pre Treatment, is completely normal and goes away after your first wash or a short time in the dryer with a fabric sheet.

Direct to Garment Printing vs Screen Printing Video

Check out this video on the pros and cons of screen printing vs DTG on this video

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