How does digital t-shirt printing work?

Digital printing works using a digital printer along with ink and a design. The printer itself works very similarly to an inkjet printer, but of course the ink is used exclusively for t-shirt printing and not for documents. Unlike screen printing which usually requires a larger minimum order due to the expense and labor involved with set up, this type of printing allows for many colors to be printed on even a small quantity of shirts - as few as one piece - with almost the same quality as screen printing.

However, It is considered a lower quality than screen printing because it is still an emerging technology. There are definitely some limitations involved with digital printing. For example, the ink just doesn't keep its vibrancy after multiple washes the same way that screen printing does and in general the digitally printed t-shirts should only be purchased for a few uses.

Another limitation of digital printing relates to the ink and shirt colors themselves. Digital printing works best on a light color t-shirt with a darker colored ink. That means that dark colored shirts aren't options for digital printing, neither are light colored inks such as white ink. Digital printing should also be done on t-shirts that are 100% cotton; shirts that are a 50% cotton/50% polyester blend are not good candidates for screen printing because they do not hold the ink as well.

However, with all that said there are still many great uses and benefits for digitally printed t-shirts. For example the digital printing process is a great way to get a custom printed t-shirt for a novel use and a few events. This printing method is much less expensive for a small quantity of shirts, usually fewer than six pieces, as would be a similar quantity of screen printed t-shirts. That is because the cost with screen printing is very heavily dependent on the quantity and at smaller quantity, with fewer shirts to diffuse the price over, the prices are much higher. With digital printing though the quantity doesn't play a role in the pricing.

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