Product Decoration Guide: Digital Printing

by admin on September 15, 2020

This article will outline the digital printing decoration method and also discuss the various limitations there are in using this type of equipment, especially when it comes to fabric types, sizes and art work.

Direct to garment digital printing is a unique and innovative way of printing CMYK directly onto a garment without any set up costs. The result achieved is photographic quality at and extremely high resolution.

The preferred medium for print is 100% cotton, however there are some exceptions such as light coloured 100% cool dry type garments that take well to our inks, where as mixed media poly/cotton fabrics do not.

Q. What are the main differences between Digital printing and sublimation? Why would I use one over the other?

A. In most instances there is little need to use sublimation and it is confusing for clients as sublimation is very selective. How ever, in the case of digital heat transfers and direct to garment digital print, making the choice is always very simple.

Direct digital printing on to garment is only ever done on 100% cotton garments or light coloured synthetics such as cool dry garments.

Digital Heat transfers will always be used on poly cotton dark garments or even caps, non woven poly enviro bags, rain wear and sports numbers.

Q. What are the advantages over regular screen printing?

A. digital prints at a much higher resolution and also has no set up costs. Screen is generally run @ around 55 – 65 DPI and digital anything up from 360 -650 DPI. It is particularly cost effective for smaller runs and in instances where many colours are to be used. There is no limit to the number of colours one can print. It is also lighter to touch and more comfortable to wear. It also allows the fabric to breathe which plastisol inks will not.

In instances where sponsorship is required on lets say 20 logos, to clients true colours, digital printing has a major advantage over screen printing especially in regards to colour registration. The set up cost too, would be prohibitive.

Q. What are the disadvantages over regular screen printing?

A. It is more expensive when running larger volumes and also a lot slower.

Q. What is the price difference between screen and digital print?

A. All dependent on volume and result required.

Q. What products or surfaces work best for digital printing?

A. In the case of garments, 100% cotton will always be the easiest to print onto. Digital heat transfers can be applied to almost any fabric.

Q. What products or surfaces DO NOT work best or at all for digital printing?

A. Synthetics for direct to garment are problematic and are best to be printed with a heat transfers to compensate for these short comings.

Q. What kind of life expectancy does each of the processes have?

A. Both decorations are extremely durable and are both colour-fast. Transfers have been tested to 50 washes with no deterioration to colour, cracking or pealing.

Direct to garment is a different issue and a lot will depend on the type of garment and its pre delivery treatment. Results can vary on garments supplied and some are better than others.

In all cases, good and bad shirts printed direct to garment, have little relevance to quality of the garment, it is more a case of pre manufacturing fabric treatment.

Q. What is the biggest advantage to digital printing?

A. Without doubt it is the resolution of print quality and the number of colours one can print almost all, with absolute registration

Q. What is a disadvantage to digital printing?

A. The speed in which digital printing printers can produce a finished product and, the complex nature of the technology.

Q. What is the average lead-time for digital printing?

A. Generally a 2 week lead time

Q. Are there any special curing or drying issues?

A. Yes there are. No two suppliers will have garments that cure and print the same.

Q. Sampling – is it possible?

A. Free sampling is available on all firm orders or a minimum charge is made for sampling

Q. What is the average set-up time and production run length for a job?

A. Set up is generally no more than 10 minutes and run time will vary dependent on size of print and colour of garment. Production times will vary between 45 seconds and 3 minutes per garment

Q. What are the set up costs?

A. Digital has no set up costs but will have minimum spends per run

Q. Are repeat set-ups a simple task and are clients charged for this?

A. Repeats are simple and easy to set up and re -runs must be a minimum of 20 garments. With this minimum, they will attract the same price point as the initial order.(If there are any additional print runs past the 1st repeat, they will attract a cost relevant to their price break)

Q. What artwork formats are required for digital printing?

A. EPS, JPEG or TIF are good files to use but please zip all files over 2 mbs.

Q. Is there a rejection rate when digital printing?

A. Always allow for some rejection, but it is not significant unless there is an issue with a fabric supplied.

Q. Out of all the various promotional products available what is the most decorated product using a digital print?

A. T-shirts, Polo Shirts and Non Woven tote bags

Table of most common items and their decoration method.

Item Digital Print Sublimate Digital Transfer
Plastic Pen yes no no
Cool dry t shirt yes transfer yes
T/shirts  and polo 100% cotton yes yes yes
Poly/cotton garments no transfer yes
100% poly garments eg. Cool dry Light colours only yes transfer yes
Non woven poly bags No Transfer yes
Caps and hats No Transfer yes
Jackets No Transfer yes
T/Towels Some brands Transfer yes
Conference satchels No


Transfer yes
Sports bags No Transfer yes
Stress balls No No Yes


Mouse mats No


No yes

Please contact JEM Promotional Products on (02)82051334 or for more information on our wide range of promotional products and how we can be of service to you for all your promotional products needs.

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