Direct to garment printing (DTG) is a process of printing on textiles using specialized ink jet technology. DTG printers hold the garment in a fixed position and use specialty inks that are applied to the textile directly by the print head and are absorbed by the garment's fibers. Since this is a digital process the print is sharper and has a higher resolution, or DPI, than traditional printing methods such as screen printing. Unlike screen printing, there is no long setup or clean-up process, and DTG has the ability to print just one single shirt for minimal cost.
DTG printers use aqueous textile inks (water-based chemistry) that require a unique curing process. Since D2 inks are water-based, they work best for printing on natural fibers such as cotton, bamboo, hemp, and linen. In addition, pre-treatment is typically applied to the garment before printing. The pre-treatment is heat-pressed into the custom t-shirt causing the fibers of the shirt to lay down. The pre-treatment also allows the water-based inks to bond more fully to the garment. This is especially important when using white ink on dark garments.
Once the custom t-shirt has been properly pre-treated, the shirt (or garment) is then positioned onto a platten system designed to hold the shirt in place. The shirt is then digitally printed according to the design in the printer queue.