What is digital printing?
Digital printing is a recent printing technique where digital files are printed on textile. The printing process is linked to computers, and then transferred to a digital printer. It’s like printing with a desktop inkjet printer, but the printing is only one part of a large process.
You may wonder if there’s a difference between direct to garment printing, digital direct to garment printing, digital apparel printing and inkjet to garment printing. These are all synonyms and mean exactly the same.
With digital printing, the fibers are absorbed by the ink. So the ink is in the textile. In comparison with screen printing, there is a layer above the textile. This is the biggest difference between the two. You can read this article to find out how screen printing works.
Digital printing: how does it work?
Let’s go to the more practical side of digital printing. How does it exactly work, or what is the process? First, the digital file has to be prepared for the printer. This is very crucial, an expert in digital printing knows the settings for the file. The colours of the design are being matched with the inks. This means that the colours from the digital file are matched with the inks. Also, the settings depend on the kind of textile that has to be printed. In short, there is a lot of technical knowledge to do the settings before the digital printing.
When the digital file is ready, the printing can start. It’s important to start with a sample piece to check if the result is okay. If something about the sample is not okay, or a little detail has to be changed, the file can be updated in the settings. We always do several checks during the printing process. After the first 10 pieces, there is again a test to check if the result is still the same. Doing several quality controls is important because the result of the printing depends on the conditions of the printing room. The room where the textile is printed has to be sealed with an adjusted temperature and humidity. From the moment that the environment changes, there can be an effect on the ink. That’s why several tests are required. With screen printing, there’s no need to do quality controls during the printing process, as every piece will be exactly the same.
What you need to know about digital printing
– Your design
You can be very creative with your design and use as much colours as you want. With digital printing, every design, all colours and even the most tiny detail is possible. So it’s perfect to print photos or designs with a lot of gradients.
– The ink
The result of digital printing depends on the quality of the ink. If you choose good-quality ink, the colours will be perfect, and the print will be durable. Good-quality ink is not cheap, that’s why the price per print is higher than screen printing.
The colours of the digital file are matched with the inks. So you don’t work in pantone or CMYK colours. Unlike with screen printing, where you can exactly determine the type of colour.
The textile is really important, because the print will be ugly if you choose bad-quality textile. We always print on cotton textile to have a perfect and durable result.
With digital printing, the ink goes in in the fibers. For white textile, the printing will be absolutely great. Coloured textile has already been pretreated to have the colour. That’s why we always use an underlayer or a coating layer on coloured and black t-shirts. This is necessary to have a durable product and a great colour effect. If there is no coating layer, the print will disappear after a few washings. This is not a standard for every printing company, but it’s our standard to print an underlayer.
The price per print is higher than screen printing, but there is no cost of all the technical steps that are required. So you never have to pay a start-up cost, a fixed cost, or a cost to do the preparations of the digital file.
Let’s go for digital printing!
When is digital printing the best choice? Digital printing is perfect if you want to print a small quantity (>25 pieces) with a design with a lot of colours. Choose the right partner who has expertise in digital printing, and make sure that your partner prints a coating layer if you have coloured textile.
Do you need personal advice for your needs? Contact our expertised team, they are happy to help you.