The age old question in the T-shirt and design industry is Screen Print VS DTG - which is better? First of all, what is the difference? DTG is a direct to garment printer which works very similar to the ink jet printer you have at home. You place the shirt on the platen, upload the design and click print. That easy! The design is then printed onto the shirt in a matter of 2-4 minutes (depending on which machine your shirt provider is using). This allows for single order single shirt production. Ok, Great, but let's say you only have a 8 hour working day. That's 480 minutes a day without breaks, that's a total of 160 shirts that can be printed at 3 minutes per shirt, for each DTG printer. 160 shirts is not a lot of shirts in comparison to the tens of thousands a screen printer can produce. That's right. TENS OF THOUSANDS. On top of that, it produces a store bought quality (depending on the experience of the printer of course) - finding a good screen printer is half the battle, but don't worry, we have you covered with options. DTG's direct to garment technology, again, works just like an ink jet. It lays down ink on top of the shirt. This leaves you with that thick rough print that just isn't quite right. As well, they skip a step screen printers do not. CURING THE SHIRT. Curing the shirt is the process of putting the shirts onto a large conveyor oven. The purpose of the oven is to heat and essentially melt the ink so that it seeps into the fabric, finally curing it to prevent cracking or fading over time. A major factor with your run of the mill DTG printer is that the design cracks or simply washes out within the same year of buying it... not very quality friendly, and damages your image for return customers down the road. Now imagine selling a screen printed shirt and your customer being able to wear it for the rest of their life. The customer who bought that shirts will be talking about you for as long as they owns and love that shirt. The DTG client however... not so much. And they probably wont order again. That is the sad reality of DTG printing and is the printing style of 99% of the drop shipping companies you have been working with to date. So what do you do? Screen printers usually ask for a minimum order of at least 24 units, and rarely offer drop shipping. Well that is the point of this blog, we have a list of places that have doubled as drop shipping warehouses as well as offer screen printed shirts. Do to the nature of the scale of a large factory screen printing setup, there aren't many out there. We found 3 and will ad to this list as we discover them: 3 - Stoked On Printing - L.A. USA https://www.stokedonprinting.com/ Stoked on is a great place to start. They offer DTG printing as well as Screen printing! So you can work up the ladder in 1 place. Works exactly like the drop shipping model you are used to, however once you begin making at least 24 sales per design, you upgrade to screen printed shirts where you save a LARGE portion of your profit due to the effectiveness and speed of screen printing. And the more you sell, the more you save. 100 shirts with a front design can be as low as 5$ a shirt when screen printed. That is a HUGE saving to red bubble's 10-15$ a shirt for example. However, their screen printing uses the same ink 99% of the industry uses... plastisol ink. Plastisol ink is a thick ink that has feel similar to a DTG print. Which leads us to our next on the list:
2 - Night Owls - Texas, USA https://www.nightowlsprint.com/
Night Owls was the first to offer screen printed quality drop shipping. They do not have the option of starting out DTG and growing from there, however the reason we put them above Stoked On printing is due to the quality of their prints... that's right. In entirely falls on quality here. Rather then printing ink onto the shirt, they use a difficult to master technique called Re-Dye printing. This is where you remove the pigment on the shirt where you then re dye the colors directly into the shirt. This leaves you with an incredibly soft feeling design that can ultimately never be washed out. They print shirts that you could still wear until you are 50 or 60. Their prices are about the same as you would pay for your DG shirt, but with their price you get a neck tag as well as a second print location. Their drop shipping model is good and integrates with your ecommerce store. Cost of shipping is about 7-8$.
1 - The Tipping Point - Ottawa, Canada https://www.thetippingpoint.ca/
The reason The Tipping Point is our number one pick is for 3 reasons. First, they are in Canada but have drop shipping warehouses both in Canada as well as the USA. This means you get Canadian pricing as well as the option of warehousing your goods in either country for fast and inexpensive delivery to any North American city. (approximately 5CAD$ shipped anywhere across North America). They do not offer DTG startup, however they do use the same Re-Dye technique as Stoked on printing, at the same rates as regular ink screen printing. This means if you are already in a place where you sell around 24 of each design, they are by far your best option. They offer customization such as neck tags, hem tags, and even SKU code tags, offering all the customization you need to have a quality product, at the same price of traditional screen printing, which is ultimately cheaper then the DTG printing you have been working with. And that concludes our list! Don't get us wrong, DTG printing is a great way to start and recommend it to everyone started out promoting their Art, Brand, Label, whatever it is. But once you start reaching higher numbers per sale, then do yourself the favor, and make to switch to the industry that produces a better product, at a fraction of the cost. Good luck, and stay creative!