Digital Decorating:

DTG Growth Opportunities in the Digital Decorating Industry in 2021

As the digital decorating industry continues to expand at fast rate, we look to the history of and advancements in DTG technology and its impact

By Jay Busselle , Contributing Writer

February 5, 2021

Today’s online shopper has their eye on the instant gratification of direct-to-garment (DTG) printing.

“We live in an instant gratification world where companies like Amazon deliver whatever we want to buy, sometimes the same day,” says Equipment Zones’ Terry Combs. “The new mantra of the modern consumer is: I want one, I want it custom and I want it now!”

DTG Printing Strength and Weaknesses

The strength of DTG decorating has been and will continue to be the ability to instantly print a nearly completely custom product, full color, on any color garment. We often refer to this as the, “Power of One.” The weakness of this production method is its scale. The on-demand nature of DTG printing is not efficient with time when the buyer needs more than 100 units when compared to screen printing.

Prior to these new industrial, production-oriented DTG printers, production times for DTG prints averaged two minutes per shirt. Screen printers can produce hundreds per hour. DTG ink costs were higher, averaging $2.00 – $3.00 per garment, while screen-printing ink costs are often under $0.30 per print.

New DTG Capabilities

New developments in inkjet technology have created a new class of production oriented, industrial DTG machines that are shrinking the gap of scale. These new DTG printers offer bulk ink delivery systems and lower ink costs, as well as faster production speeds. For example, a high-quality, full-sized, full-color graphic printed on a dark garment could cost under $1.00 and be completed in about one minute. That’s a significant advancement! What does that mean for the midsized apparel decoration shop? These new DTG machines are more efficient and better aligned with corporate buying patterns without giving up the “Power of One.”

Higher speeds in DTG have been available for quite some time, but at a very high cost of entry and they come with a huge footprint. These earlier machines often cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, even up to ½ million-dollars or more! This new class of production-oriented, industrial DTG machines are a fraction of the cost and are smaller than an entry level, 6-8 station automatic screen-printing press.

Faster production speeds and new lower ink costs allow for an increased production flexibility and growth opportunities for apparel decorators.

Jay Busselle is marketing director for Equipment Zone. For more information or to comment on this article, email Jay at

Article updated Nov. 14, 2023