Monday, March 29, 2010

Direct to garment Digital print on demans for tee shirts.

What's the deal with this " Digital t-shirt printing"? Is it the same as " print on demand"?

Digital t-shirt printing is starting to come of age. Since BASF has developed a White ink for use in bubble jet and ink jet printers along with a curable textile ink. Companies can now print onto garments or textiles using the same printing technologies as the desktop printer attached to your homes personal computer system.

What are the Pros & Cons of Digital tee shirt imaging as compared to other processes like Heat transfers, Sublimation or silk screen printing?

 Unlike heat transfers or sublimation, Digital printing can now be done right onto colored garments as a White ink can be applied first. Heat transfers do come in white however each transfer must be cut out of the square or rectangular paper an applied. It leaves a big plastic window on the garment. Sublimation can only be don on Polyester goods and not 100% cotton.

Silk screen printing was invented in Asia some 4000 years ago. It has come a long way since then using discoveries in modern technology and materials.. It is  THE standard in imaging anything textile.!
Here is a breakdown of some of the pro's & con's of Print on demand custom t-shirts as compared to the Industry standard of Silk screening.

         1.) PRICE:
There are no set ups associated with this form of reproduction. This means mechanical color separated films and screens are not needed. This is a major cost saving factor and has made it affordable to do just one or two full color printed items. Please see the number one con as an opposite effect of this.

    2.) TIME: If you find a shop that does not have a lot of orders going on at the time, It is possible for shirts to be done While you wait! do to the lack of set ups required.


         1.) PRICE + TIME:
Digital printing is a slow process as compared to silk screening. With the silk screen process, Once the job is set up , Hundreds of full color garments can be produced on just one press in 30 minuets or less.
Digital printing may take that long just to spray one shirt. Silk screening can reproduce t-shirt quantities at 500 percent faster then Digital.
  This means you can get MAJOR price breaks for ordering quantities of silk screen printed shirts whereas digital printing does not give you a price break for quantities! this can be the difference from $3.00 bucks a tee compared to $8.00 to  $20.00 a shirt.

             Also in this area is the fact that you pay the same price for a one color digital print as a full color digital print. Screen printing charges per color and can generate Free mixed tertiary colors on press as well.

           2.) QUALITY:  Digital printing Sprays the ink onto the garment whereas Screening uses a Squeegee with pressure to Push the ink into the fiber thus completely permeating the material completely. In fact most digital printers spray an alcohol down first just to get the ink to slightly absorb into the textile weave a few millimeters below the surface. Screen printing can also use different meshes of screen  to adjust thick or thinner deposits of ink.
   These inks fade quickly from Sunlight, laundering and wear. Silk screened shirts....  I still have a Pink Floyd shirt from the seventies, The shirt is falling apart but the print still looks great.

          3.) SPECIAL EFFECTS: Unlike silk screening, Digital print on demand cannot print creative custom effect inks like.. glitters, shimmers, metallics, glow in the dark, neon,  florescent black light, puff & raised,Color changing ultra violet chromatic, clear gel gloss, Foils, sued, Light reflective, vinyl, Lycra & specialty material inks, as well as exact pantone color match inks.

     Color matching, Digital cannot do a color match! in fact re-orders may result in an image that is completely different in color.!

     Three-D effect, Digital printing does not offer killer effect that can be done by a screen printer like, High density printing, Fake process, Indexing, Flamingo printing and a whole host more.

In short, Digital print on demand custom tee shirts are only for those who want just a few Cotton only garments that are just a generic graphic or photo and are not meant to be a keepsakes or retail commercial products.
This is why there are so many Cafepress "$#@ks" blogs and website..... people are charged 20 bucks for a tee that will fade, the store owner only gets two bucks and the images are usually pretty cheesy stolen internet jpegs.