What’s the difference? Screen Printing vs Digital Printing

Screen Printing vs Digital Printing

We’ve previously written about what screen printing is, but there’s another type of printing that you may have heard of called Digital Printing (which is also known as Direct To Garment, or DTG).

At Ramp, we use screen printing to print your t-shirts. Why? Well, we think it’s the best, most tried and tested method. But let’s look at DTG too.

What’s the difference?


Screen printing uses a stencil created from your artwork, and ink is then printed through the stencil on to your t-shirt in layers using special inks. Each colour requires a screen to be made, which can make the setup costs quite expensive. But the more t-shirts you print, the more this setup cost is spread across them.

Digital Printing is a lot like a giant inkjet printer. You place the t-shirt directly into the printer, and the inks are squirted directly on to it (hence the name Direct To Garment).

Direct To Garment Printer.
Direct To Garment Printer.
So how do the end results differ?

Screen printing inks are thicker, and so colours end up looking much better and more vibrant than DTG. Also, it doesn’t matter if your t-shirt is a dark colour, the colour will always be true to your original design. With DTG, colours can be muted and the definition isn’t as sharp, especially on dark garments.

Screen print detail on Ramp promo t-shirt
Screen print detail.
If DTG isn’t so good, why use it at all?

DTG does have some advantages over screen printing. The main one is the lack of setup costs. That means you can print low numbers of t-shirts – even one-offs – in full colour. The flipside of that is you’re never going to get the economies of scale of printing hundreds or thousands of screen printed t-shirts, because each DTG shirt requires someone to be present to change the garment, and set up the print, affecting the cost. All this is automated when screen printing.

DTG Digial print example
DTG print detail.

Screen Printing vs Digital Printing – generally speaking, DTG is good for low numbers of t-shirts, and Screen Printing is better for high numbers. Check this handy table for a summary:

Screen Printing v DTG table
Screen Printing v DTG table

We use DTG for our sister companies, Cotton Cart and Dizzyjam. These sites let you set up an online store, and sell shirts worldwide with no costs. But if you’re looking for high quality screen printed t-shirts, then we’re here to help at Ramp.

Any questions?

If there’s anything we can do to help, just ask in the LiveChat box, give us a call, email us, or use the QUOTE REQUEST FORM below:

And don’t forget the free checklist below so that you have all the things you need to know before ordering custom t-shirts and more in one quick and easy document.

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