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A quick guide to popular garment print technologies available today.

Ricoh Transform is no longer active. You can keep up to date with the latest thinking from Ricoh UK on our new blog, Ricoh Insights.

Finding a garment printing process that’s ideal for your business can be a challenge. Whether you wish to start a new venture, replace current technology or simply expand the offering to your customers – the choice available today is probably bigger than ever before. The cost is no longer your main purchase criteria, as print buyers or/and consumers are more demanding than ever before in terms of print quality, minimum order quantities, speed of delivery and mass personalisation.

Which garment printing process is right for you?

 

Truth is, that most likely you won’t be able to fulfil all your customer demands with just one garment decoration technology. Therefore it is crucial for you to understand what the differences are between them and which one/ones are suitable for your business. Here is quick summary guide to help you choose the right technology:

 

Direct to Garment

Dye Sublimation

 

Thermal Transfer

 

Screen Printing

 

Basic technology Inkjet, printer prints direct onto garment Print images on a release paper, then transfer image to garment by heat press Transfer preprinted images to garment by heat press Analoque process. Screen printing directly on garment

 

Graphics Full digital color Full digital color Color separations Color separations. 4 -color simulated process approximates digital

 

Technology History 10 years 50+ years 50+ years 50+ years

 

Supported substrates 100% cotton, high cotton blends, polyester belnds, canvas, hemp and linen

 

100% white polyester or pastels Synthetic, poly blends Any fabric type

 

White ink supported (for impressions on dark or black shirts) Yes No No Yes
Ink and Environmental Concerns Water-based pigment ink is environmentally friendly and non-toxic. No fumes. Typically solvent-based ink. VOC and environmental concerns. Ink is already on transfer paper. Ink is already on transfer paper. Commonly plastisol ink with environmental concerns. Produces VOC and waste water problems. Water-based inks available but cost more.

 

Printed Garment’s Tactile Feel Soft and natural cotton feeling. It depends on ink quality. Natural feeling Depends on the character of transfer paper used. Mostly stiff to touch.

 

Thick hardened plastisol. “Tarp” feeling
Wash ability (durability of print)

 

High Low Medium High
Profitability of short runs High High High Not feasible, especially for multiple colors. Runs below 25 prints are cost prohibitive

 

Supports personalisation Yes – digital process supports
personalisation
Yes – digital process supports
personalisation
Yes – digital process supports
personalisation
No – analogue print process does not
support personalisation 
Suitable for large production volumes Yes provided that machines recommended daily/monthly print volume supports it Not suitable for larger production
volumes
Not suitable for larger production
volumes
Yes – industrialised print process supports large production volumes

 

Ideal Owner Profile Professional commercial system, small scale commercial, hobbyist Hobbyist or small scale commercial Hobbyist or small scale commercial Professional Commercial System

 

Set-up Time 2-5 minutes 2.5 minutes zero 2-4 hours, depending on many variables

If you think DTG might be the perfect process for your needs, watch a video here


Or you can visit our website here to find out more.

Ricoh Transform is no longer active. You can keep up to date with the latest thinking from Ricoh UK on our new blog, Ricoh Insights.

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