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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!