Direct to garment printing uses a modified inkjet printer to print on garments and textiles. This process produces lifelike, full-colour prints. However, it is not suitable for every application. The inks need to be pretreated with a special chemical before they can be applied. In recent years, newer printing machines have been developed to combine digital and screen printing methods. The benefits of these machines are that they reduce setup time and eliminate the need for pretreatment.

Modern inks are more durable and flexible, and provide solid images that last for a long time. These inks are also washable. Furthermore, they allow designers to use non-inked spaces to add texture to their designs. Another modern technology used in apparel printing is digital to fabric printing, or DTG. This technology is capable of rendering realistic images onto fabrics and allows designers to make use of gradients.

Screen printing is another popular method of apparel printing. It is a labor-intensive process but produces beautiful, saturated colors. It involves the application of ink through a woven mesh screen. For this process to work, each color in the design is applied to a separate screen. Screen printing requires a high-quality image because each color is applied one at a time.

Digital technology can also be used for on-the-spot decorating of garments. For example, if six high school wrestling teams are coming together to participate in a wrestling tournament, the coaches can sell apparel with the tournament logo and list of students who will be competing. This can be done with heat transfers on transfer paper, which can be carried to the event. The attendees can choose a favorite garment from the inventory, and the coaches can easily make money at the same time.

Several factors determine the type of printing process to use on apparel. The fabric and design type will affect the method that works best. For example, a silk pant will not work with dye-sublimation printing. Furthermore, the number of colors used in a design will also affect the printing method. For example, a multiple-color design may be better suited to direct-to-garment printing.

Water-based screen printing is another option. This method allows for a soft and subtle print. It works well on 100% cotton garments and is also suitable for garments with seams. Its advantages over screen printing include the ability to print over seams and edges. However, this method is not recommended for all types of fabric, and is not recommended for all types of apparel.

Sublimation printing can also create a stunning print. Unlike thermal transfer printing, sublimation is more expensive, and costs up to $500 or more. While sublimation is great for printing on non-textile garments, it is not ideal for outdoor use. You can find a wide range of printing services from Spark Embroidery & Printing.