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Decoration Methods - Digital Printing

Digital Printing/Direct to Garment (DTG)

Digital Printing, also referred to as Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing is a process of printing on textiles using specialized aqueous (water-based chemistry) ink jet technology. DTG printers typically have a platen designed to hold the garment in a fixed position, and the printer inks are jetted or sprayed onto the textile by the print head. Since the inks are water-based, they work best for printing on natural fibers such as cotton, bamboo, hemp, and linen. They are capable of printing on blends but yield the best result with a higher natural fabric content. DTG typically requires that the garment be pre-treated with a PTM or Pre-treatment machine allowing for the following:

  • Stronger bond between garment fibers and the pigmented inks

  • Lays down loose fibers to provide for a smoother substrate

  • Chemically reacts with the inks to promote drying and curing

Since this is a digital process it requires the artwork to be submitted in CMYK color format. Matching exact pantones can be done to an extent but usually requires pre-production sample prints and tweaking of the CMYK color values to achieve the most accurate results.


When printing on darker colored fabric a special white under base is laid down and cured prior to applying the water based inks atop it.

DTG Pros

DTG Cons

Fast turnaround time for small orders

Not cost effective for larger runs

Easily print tons of colors; Great for photos

Slow printing time per shirt

Cost-effective for smaller runs

Not available on all colors or materials

No minimum order

Limited design placement

File Types for Direct to Garment

There are two types of images: raster and vector. Raster images use pixels. The higher number of pixels an image contains, the better resolution it will have; better quality prints. Pixels have a direct effect on the scaling capabilities of an image. The more pixels an image contains, the larger it can be scaled without becoming boxy, or “pixelated.”

Vector images, however, use mathematical calculations between two different points to create geometrical shapes. The process itself uses lines instead of pixels, and because of that, they are infinitely scalable. No matter how large you scale a vector image, it will not lose its quality. When you view a photo on a computer screen, it usually requires a fairly low PPI (Pixels Per Inch) count – around 72, generally. For digital viewing, that’s fine. But when it comes to printing, both on t-shirts and paper, the higher the PPI count, the better. Ideally, we request customers submit photos at 300 PPI. If that’s not possible, no worries! Our design team is always happy to help. Whether submitting a vector or raster image, here are some of the most commonly accepted file formats:

  • AI

  • EPS

  • JPEG

  • TIFF

  • PDF

  • PNG

  • PSD

  • PCT