If you’re considering direct-to-garment printing, there are some basics you’ll want to know before you get started to avoid being disappointed by the final product. Unlike screen printing, which places colors onto the garment by pressing ink through screens, direct-to-garment printing uses a specialized printer to put the ink directly onto the garment. It produces great looking, sharp prints, but there are some precautions to take for best results.
File Prep for the Direct-to-Garment Printer
When you create the file for direct-to-garment printing, you’ll want to use RGB color settings. Illustrator (vector) files with strokes or fonts should be expanded to outlines before you do any resizing, while Photoshop (raster) files will need to be set to 150dpi or higher at the size you want them printed.
Avoid using or sending .jpg images files if you can, as they are sometimes usable, but sometimes not. PNG image files are preferable because they keep the transparencies of the image.
As for the sizing and resolution, you can’t make a low-resolution image larger or increase the resolution of an image without making the image itself smaller. Additionally, be sure to eliminate any stray pixels when editing images in Photoshop. Finally, any white areas should be set to R 254, B 254, G 254, while any black areas should be set to R 0, B 0, G 0.
How Files Will Translate to Printing
Colors that are only a few shades apart may not print with as much contrast as you are hoping for—instead, colors should be farther apart for optimal contrast. Additionally, big blocks of solid color on colored shirts can get muddied up pretty easily due to the multiple layers of ink. If you’re not sure of how to optimize your image for great-looking DTG printing, work with your direct-to-garment printer company for tips and advice to make sure your shirts and garments look their best.
Shirt Recommendations for DTG Printing
We know, we know—already so many rules to follow and you haven’t even chosen what shirt to print on. But, alas, here are some more rules.
100% cotton shirts are the best for direct-to-garment printing. Cotton is more compatible for better print quality as well as better durability and washability. Although you can use shirts that are blended materials/tri-blend shirts, the print quality, durability, and washability are not guaranteed. A higher amount of cotton over polyester is recommended if you do choose blends, as this will help to prevent scorching during the curing process. Since polyester is a form of plastic, it is more susceptible to damage from overexposure to heat or flames.
Some brands of 100% cotton t-shirts that work great with the direct-to-garment printer include Bella+Canvas, LA T, Tultex, Next Level, American Apparel, Port and Company, Bayside, Anvil, and Hanes Nano Tee. 50/50 and tri-blends that work well are suggested from American Apparel, Bella+Canvas, LA T, and Hanes.
Shirts to avoid? You bet there are shirts to avoid—Gildan, Gildan Blends, and Gildan Light Colors are all less-than-stellar choices for DTG printing. This brand seems to have a bad reaction during the process, with the dyes in the cotton reacting poorly during the process of preparation, causing the garment to look discolored, bleached, or scorched.
Have more questions about using the direct-to-garment printer? Contact Sharprint today to find out more about how we can make your printing project look great.