What is DTG Printing?

2 min read

DTG - Direct to Garment Printing Article Image

DTG water based ink

At PNW Journey we use a printing process called Direct to Garment. Also known as DTG, this process is how we produce such high quality prints. Using a large digital printer and water based ink, we are able to take any digital image and print it directly onto fabric.

What is water based ink?

Screen printing uses plastisol, which contains plastic in the ink. Our ink does not include plastic, which makes it a more eco-friendly option. The ink seeps into the garment and dyes the material rather than sitting on top of the fabric. This creates a more consistent feel while maintaining a great looking image.


How does it work?

Unlike screen printing, because we use an actual printer we are not limited to the number of colors in a design. We can print any image with little to no setup time. Aside from the quality of the print, this also allows us to provide small batch custom prints for our customers who need them.


Pretreatment is applied

We start the process by adding a pretreatment to the fabric. This is a bonding agent, essentially a type of glue, that allows the ink to bond with the shirt. We have a machine that sprays this solution onto the area where the print will be applied.

PNW Journey pretreatment machine

The combination of this pretreatment and the water based ink is why our images do not crack or peel off. The ink becomes bonded with the fabric and can last an average of 50+ wash cycles, depending upon detergents and/or other elements used during the wash. Unlike heat transfer vinyl, DTG will not crack or peel after being washed.

Printing happens

Once the pretreatment has been applied, the garment is moved to the printer. If it is an image with color, a white underbase will be printed first to ensure the color image comes out looking sharp and vibrant.

PNW Journey shirt being printed


The ink is cured

After the printing is complete, the garment is then moved over to our heat press where the ink is cured. This is a process that dries the ink into the fabric before the item gets packed and shipped, or put out onto the sales floor.

PNW Journey shirt on a heat press

 Now it's yours!

All that's left is to pack and ship. When you see a PNW Journey package at your door, you know something awesome is inside!

PNW Journey shirt in a shipping bag

What do you think?

We've had some questions regarding DTG and what it is. Did this article help you understand DTG better? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. 


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