What is DTG Printing?

Art, Clothing, Cotton, Direct to Garment, DTG, Ink, Printer -

What is DTG Printing?

DTG is the main process we use in Find Art Co. to create long lasting beautiful and unique printed designs on our clothing collections. Being our main technology, we would like to share with you some knowledge about it, and what to expect when you purchase our printed pieces of Art.

DTG stands for “Direct to Garment” and it’s a method to print graphics or art work directly onto clothing by using special kinds of eco-friendly water-based inks and specialized equipment (digital printers). It is a relatively new process that results on sharper and higher resolution images with a long lasting quality compared with the traditional methods such as transfer printing, screen printing and cad cut vinyl.

DTG has become an industry standard to print on demand custom designs due to its flexibility, zero set-up times and the virtually unlimited use of the color palette that our artists and designers just love as you can see in all our collections. 

DTG printing method can be used on a wide range of materials, from 100% cotton base to blends made with cotton and polyesters or tri-blends that adds rayon to the cotton-poly mix.  Actually, the best results are obtained with 100% cotton (the color usually appears more vibrant and bright than with blends where the finish seems more like a vintage look) but as the technology develops, the results on blends may equal the results obtained on 100% cotton in the near future. You can check the differences and properties of the fabrics we use in our blog post entitled "Our Clothing Quality Explained".

As in Find Art Co., we usually use garments made with 100% ring spun cotton, you should expect the best quality on your t-shirts, hoodies, tank tops and the full variety of clothing products we offer in our store.  But don't worry - we got you cover vintage look lover out there! - in some cases, we use tri-blends for that vintage liking.


Before any ink is applied on to the garment, the fabric must be prepared with a sprayed liquid over its surface to receive the ink and serve as a bond between the ink and the garment itself so the ink wouldn’t flake off the garment. The pre-treatment could be applied either manually or by automated means.

Sometimes when our clients unpack a new shirt or hoodie with a direct-to-garment (DTG) print, they have noticed a vinegar-like smell or an off-white residue. This is not unusual and it's from the fixation agent (the liquid) applied during the pre-treatment process and it's not permanent.
Dark Clothing Pre-treatment

- Applying of the white base layer on dark garment -

When printing onto dark clothing, DTG printing process requires a pre-treatment executed on the garments. Commonly, the pretreatment consists on the application of a liquid prior to the application of the first white layer of ink (under base layer). This liquid stops the ink from penetrating too deep in the fabric so it can strongly stay just on the surface and act as a base to receive the next colored ink layers of the desired design.

White/Light Colored Clothing Pre-treatment

- Printing on white garment -

When printing onto white or light colored garments, the application of pre-treatment substances is optional but its recommended because it will make the result more pleasant to the eye.  In this case is not required the application of the base white ink.

After the pre-treatment is applied, the garment is ready for the printing process.

In both cases, the pre-treatment assures the ink will soak into the garment itself and become part of the product. That means there’s no chance for the graphic art to crack, peel, or wash away over time.


There are in the market a wide variety of printing machines. Depending on the size of the business, the printing area sizing needs and the print resolution, each manufacturer offers portable, compact or industrial equipment with different production rates and capabilities.

Generally, the machine is a big digital printer similar to the inkjet printers in your home office but designed specially to apply ink directly on to the fabric of the apparel. The equipment is composed by an ink circulation and filtration system, a print heads, a humidity and compressed air systems, ink containers and a CPU unit with the software that controls automatically all the processes within the machine.

To print a T-shirt, for example, the operator just has to place the garment on the pallets in the desired position to begin with the automated process of the ink deposition. In the newer machines, the pretreatment wetting solution (a fixation agent based on wetting additives and water) its integrated into the printing process.


As the inks used are water soluble, it is important to press the garments after printing to ensure that the printed design does not come off in the wash.  For light colored garments, this require direct exposure to high pressure and heat for around 90 seconds, while dark garments get the same treatment for at least 180 seconds. After the curing, the wetting solution evaporates off of the garment.

It is important to select garments for printing that are able to withstand the arduous manufacturing conditions involved with DTG printing water-based inks.  All the clothing we use in Find Art Co. has been selected to obtain the best quality in terms of printing, durability, softness and fit.

In this article we have presented the basics of the processes we use to give to you the best quality on your tees, hoodies, tank tops, crop tops and the full variety of the products that we offer in our store. This is top notch tech used in order to help you (and ourselves) to express emotions, desires, passions, beliefs, ideals and to truly own your identity.

Always remember to be yourself!


  • Find Art Co.

    Hi Jetmark.

    You are right. Every investment someone decides to make should be carefully evaluated. Sometimes the impulse to be part of the newest shiny thing out there and the feeling that produces to be part of it, makes entrepreneurs to take very bad decisions. As technology improves, there will be new equipment for the printing industry, new expensive machines that surely will promise less manufacturing times, less inks use, less energy waste and better ROI.

    Again and as you said, new tech has pros and cons, and the correct balance between each of them should be taken into consideration to objectively decide if it’s worth it as a substitute (or as an improvement) for your business model and growth plans.

    Thanks for commenting! This is a very interesting topic.

  • Jetmark

    In these economic times it is even more important to make prudent investments. Over the past 6 years the direct to garment industry has exploded and with it screen printers, embroiders, and entrepreneurs have asked is Direct to Garment worth the investment? And the answer is it depends. Like most investments it is not ideally suited for every investor. Most see it as a shiny new toy and are taken by its technology. This may be all well and good but that shinny new investment may be nothing more than 200lb paper weight if not utilized. Before we consider which model or manufacturer might be right for you lets first consider if you should even be looking at one.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published