Direct to garment printing, also known as DTG printing, digital direct to garment printing, digital apparel printing, and inkjet to garment printing, is a process of printing on textiles and garments using specialized or modified inkjet technology. The two key requirements of a DTG printer are a transport mechanism for the garment and specialty inks (inkjet textile inks) that are applied to the textile directly and are absorbed by the fibers.
Some direct to garment printers are manufactured from pre-existing inkjet printers, namely Epson (a process often referred to as “repurposing” of the Epson printer), but other companies, such as DTG Digital, AnaJet, Oprintjet, Brother, MAPI Digital, Kornit and Mimaki have printers specially designed for fabric/garment printing.
Some DTG printers have been built using lower-resolution industrial inkjet print heads like those found in large-format printers used to print signs and banners. Some inkjet technology manufacturers offer products designed for direct textile printing, providing heads, printers and inks. The resolution and speed of direct-to-garment inkjet printers have been increased greatly over the last 8 years (the direct to garment era is generally recognized as beginning in the last quarter of 2004 when Mimaki & U.S. Screen introduced their printers at the SGIA show in Minneapolis).
Direct to garment (DTG) printing is most commonly implemented on garments that are made of cotton or cotton blends, although recent developments in technology have allowed for superior performance on light colored polyester and cotton/poly blends. As of this writing digitally imaging directly to dark garments is not commercially viable, though a number of companies are working on developing this technology.
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