Direct-to-garment printing (DTG) is a process of printing on textiles using specialized aqueous inkjet 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. 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 the print is sharper and has a higher resolution, or DPI, than traditional printing methods such as screen printing. However, 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 garment -for instance a 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.