Direct print onto clothing - What is it and is it right for you?

As the name implies, DIRECT PRINT is the catch all name for the clothing decoration technique of applying inks directly to garments.

Xamax use 2 different styles of direct printing to acheive different results, dependant on your requirements: Screen and DTG (Direct To Garment) printing. Each technique has it's own benefits and downsides... pros and cons.

Don't worry - Xamax are highly experienced in these processes. You will be advised on the most suitable process for your given print project, even if that requires an indirect printing process instead of direct.

Screen Printing

Screen Printing Machines at Xamax

Screen printing is an age old technique (done the modern way) and is perfect for those logos and workwear items which are light and full of life. We use this technique on t-shirts, hi-vis PPE items and other lightweight clothing to give clean and simple logos and designs a superior look on contrasting backgrounds. This can make your business appear engaging and active,

A silk mesh screen is created in our print lab that allows ink to be pushed through onto the garment with a squeegee. This screen is laid over the top of the garment and ink is applied directly to the fabric. This action is repeated until all colours of the design have been printed, before garments are put through a heat drier to cure the ink. This creates a permanent design - and as we use only the best inks available, we guarantee our screen print to outlast the garment it appears on.

Pros of screen printing

  • Fast production and Accurate production - we use a carousel technique that allows for multiple items to be in the workflow at any one time. Garments are fed onto the carousel printing machine, which has multiple screens and curing heads attached to ensure accuracy of registration across all colours within your design. 
  • High volume print production - Due to the speed of production once set up, and once the workflow is full, our print carousels can output over 500 garments per hour, from plain garment to fully cured and decorated product.
  • Any Garment, any fabric - we are able to screen print onto any fabric that can endure the drying process. From 100% cotton T-Shirts to Polyester Hi-Vis vests, screen printing is the ideal print solution for all company and organisation types: manufacturing, construction, school, bar-restaurant, charity anything else at all.

Cons of Screen Printing

  • Maximum colour applications - Due to the very nature of screen print, you are limited to a total of 8 colours within your design. You can use any 8 colours as our ink lab can create any colour you like, but you can only have 8 in total. Each screen puts down 1 colour at a time, and carousels only have so many screens attached. This isn't really much of a downside as most printed T-Shirts you've ever seen will have been screen printed - just think of the complicated designs you've seen in your life! However, each new colour does add expense so although there are some colours included in our screen print price, you may incur extra costs for high colour counts.
  • Minimum run count - Each screen takes time (and money) to create. Each ink takes time (and money) to mix. Each print run takes time to set up and quality prove. So, we have a minimum print run of 30 garments for this technique, and at this level there is a maximum of 3 colours we can print for you.

DTG (Direct To Garment) Printing

Direct To Garment machines at Xamax

DTG printing is the reletively new and modern technique of printing - yes you've guessed it - directly onto the garment. The system is infact so new, that very few workwear or clothing customisation companies offer it - and of those that do, even fewer can offer the high quality, reliable print you get from Xamax.

This technique is something Xamax has been watching closely for 10 years, and it is only in 2018 that machines, inks and pre-treatment systems have become available that can create the print quality Xamax would put it's name to. Big, clunky, low-resolution printers have been available for a while, but by waiting patiently, Xamax are pleased to say we give the highest quality, longest lasting and most reliable DTG print service in the industry.

Our system can print over 1,000,000 separate colours in a single design, onto any colour garment, with a crisp and long lasting, machine washable quality print - perfect for custom promotional T-Shirts.

Pros of DTG Printing

  • Speed of design set up - Although it still takes time and skill, setting up for DTG print is done purely within computer software making a set up as simple for a single garment as it is for a large order.
  • No minimum run count - there are a maximum of 4 processes involved with our DTG system, only 2 on White garments - this allows us to provide a bespoke printing service that is equally as efficient for a single garment as it is for large volumes.
  • High number of colours in your design - Your creativity will know no bounds! We have successfully printed almost photographic images onto white cotton T-Shirts, and the same design onto a black cotton shirt with the only differences caused by the required basecoat. Designs are sharp with no bleed of colour, colours are vibrant and appealing.

Cons of DTG Printing

  • Pretreatment may be required - This does not apply to White garments, or dark designs on light coloured garments... If your design requires white ink printed onto a coloured fabric, the garment will need pretreating before it can be printed. This allows the White ink (which has a different chemical make up to all other colours) to key into the fabric without bleeding. The pretreatment solution is non-toxic, safe and washes out completely at 30°, we do advise that any pretreated garment is washed before it's first wear. We do not offer a laundry service.
  • Relatively slow compared to Screen print - The DTG machines only print 1 garment at a time, and the bigger and more complex the design, the longer it takes to print. As such, it isn't particularly suitable for very high volume customers.
  • Limitation of fabrics - DTG print does not work at all on polyester fibres, and doesn't work well with any other man-made fibres. Due to this, Xamax will only print DTG on pure Cotton garments to ensure the quality work you deserve and that we're happy to put our name to. This isn't as limiting as it first seems - our trainedaccopunt managers will be happy to guide you.