Compared to screen printing ink, DTG ink costs much more. It is possible to save money on screen printing ink, but DTG inks are typically designed for one specific printer manufacturer by printing services.
How much does DTG ink cost?
Ink cartridges for DTG printers cost approximately $200 each. At any given time, a typical CMYK DTG printer (with two white inks) may have $1,200 worth of ink in it.
DTG printing manufacturers’ business model relies on the “razor and razor blade” model.
Manufacturers make their profit from the consumables they sell to support DTG printers, not from the machines themselves. Another benefit of DTG ink is its shelf life. Unlike Plastisol screen printing ink, it can’t be bought on sale and saved for later.
DTG machines can cost over $400 a month just for ink.
What is the difference between DTG and screen printing?
The right screen printing tips can make your t-shirts extremely soft. Inks and techniques used in screen printing (like discharge inks) create prints that melt into the fabric so you can’t feel them.
Generally speaking, we can assume:
- Compared to plastisol screen printed t-shirts, DTG prints may feel softer to the touch
- The ink used in DTG is much thinner than that used in plastisol
- In comparison to water-based screen printing, DTG printed t-shirts may not have a softer hand feel
- It is possible to have zero hand feel with water-based inks
DTG prints are typically softer than screen prints.
In some cases, that is not the case, and DTG printing is not always the best method of achieving softer prints. Printing with DTG might not be as durable as screen printing, and not all garments or prints are suitable for it. Some customers want “bulletproof” plastisol prints with a thick layer of ink, while others want no hand-feel at all.
What is the cost of DTG printing compared to screen printing?
In small orders (less than 24 pieces), DTG printing is typically less expensive than screen printing. In most cases, screen printing is less expensive than DTG printing for large orders (more than 24 pieces).
Is there a reason for this?
The setup and breakdown of screen printing are very time-consuming. To make the job profitable, screen printers need to print a lot of shirts to offset the cost of creating screens and setting up those screens on press.
It varies from industry to industry but a common minimum is 24 t-shirts. In spite of this, screen printing is incredibly efficient when it comes to high volumes.
It is inefficient to print DTG at high volumes. For garments ranging from 1 to 12, DTG printing is profitable and easy. Printing just one shirt with a DTG printer will be faster almost without a doubt. If you need more than 24 garments, however, screen printing becomes exponentially faster and more profitable – while DTG printing remains the same.
Below is a graph of screen printing prices in red and direct to garment (DTG) prices in blue. Initially, screen printing prices are high – as you can see. DTG printing becomes more expensive and takes longer as the quantity increases, while screen printing becomes more affordable as the quantity increases.
How does DTG printing compare to screen printing?
What is the better option? It all depends on the situation. T-shirts and other custom garments can be printed using both DTG printing and screen printing. What is the best option?
You will hear screen printers trash DTG as “direct to garbage” and DTG lovers call screen printers old-fashioned. This is definitely a hostile environment!
Screen printing is still the most durable, time-tested, and familiar printing method for custom t-shirts and apparel.
Both DTG and screen printing have their advantages and disadvantages. Several factors play a role in the custom apparel industry, so it is difficult to say that one decoration style is the best or only way to achieve the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal, then, what is it?
Your goal is to bring a customer’s idea to life. If you are considering a new decoration method – for example, buying a DTG printer or trying screen printing. We encourage you to worry less about the decoration method and more about whether you are printing what the customer wants. Direct to garment printing PRUF can help you with DTG priting products!