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Product Introduction And Specification


While models may vary and function different at all, there are basic steps that must be taken to ensure a great end product when printing with a direct to garment printer, DTG Printer, custom t-shirt printers of almost any kind.

MT digital DTG printers have been helping people start custom t-shirt printing businesses since 2012 and MT digital DTG printers are recognized experts in the field of apparel decorating in general AND t-shirt printing in particular.

The process of direct to garment printing is simple. Pretreat – Prepare your shirt for printing.

1. Load your printer – hoop your shirts on the 2 or more platens and get ready to print.

2. Print and Sell – let the DTG Printer do its work – then heat press and sell.

We will walk you step by step through the preparation, printing and finishing process for printing custom t-shirts. Then the rest of the article will more fully describe the hardware of Garment Printers, process and supplies involved in accomplishing a great end result – a beautiful, profitable custom tee shirt or garment!


Direct to garment printing is the cutting-edge of garment decoration and can easily justify a successful business with a single garment printer. DTG is fun, exciting, creative and just cool—but to run a successful business it’s all about the money.

There are any numbers of printers on the market. As a production specialist and small business owner, your top priority is having reliable and profitable equipment. At the top of the list, and clearly the China industry’s best and most reliable DTG printer is the MT DTG printer TA3H. Because this printer is by far the most dominant printer in the industry, I will be using the this Garment printer estimate the cost tool as a reference.

Pricing DTG jobs is simple because there is very little, if any, set up and breakdown time. Printing a single color, or the full CMYK spectrum can be as easy as pushing a button. Unlike screen printing, with DTG we don’t charge by the number of colors. That’s a selling point people often overlook. The cost of printing a full color image is reduced to the same amount it costs to print a one-color design. Reduced production costs combined with the ability to offer full-color prints equals increased profit margins! 

With DTG, we charge by size of print, which is directly related to ink consumption. Since we are using a digital printer, ink cartridges need to be refill periodically, and that’s the bulk of our cost. The larger the print, the more ink is consumed and more ink means more cost.

Pricing Guideline Theory:

DTG is significantly less labor intensive than screen printing and we have the ability to produce one-off garments quickly plus the margins can be very high. That being said, we want to charge a fair price but our time and efforts should be considered when setting a price chart. 

I argue it’s best to charge a fair value for your time, expenses and discount, if needed, after the full price is quoted. By this I mean don’t give away your services when quoting a job; SELL your services. Remember, we have a massively distinct advantage over other printed shirt techniques; we can print one full color, full size image on a light or dark shirt within minutes. 

Some people think this should be cheap, but consider the alternative. If a customer wants a picture of Little Jimmy printed on a shirt for his birthday, what are their options? Screen printing, of course, but that will cost art separations, films, screens, set-up, and print cost. For one shirt would charge $350 minimum. The customer could do a heat transfer, but those are thick, plastic, vinyl stickers, not ideal, and not necessarily cheap. DTG really is the best option and I think it’s fare to charge accordingly.


1. The Best DTG Printer Process

Every MT direct to garment printer has fundamentally the same process, but even within the same MT brand you’ll be varying many of the steps according what type of material you’re printing on, the quality you’re producing and the preferences of the artist.

So while what follows represents those basic steps, the BEST DTG Printer process will depend on you, your business and your blanks.

If you are only printing on light colored t-shirts or if you have a larger industrial shop you may want to consider a MT dedicated commercial DTG printer set up for maximum speed in a CMYK mode.

2. The Steps For Printing with DTG

Creating a finished product using a t-shirt printing machine and printing on a white t-shirt or other white textile requires little preparation of the garment in advance. But with DTG Printers you have the highly profitable capability of printing directly onto dark garments as well and that requires “pretreating”.

Think of Pretreatment like adding a primer before you paint. It helps the ink adhere better to the t-shirt or other garment, as well as to things like canvas, denim jeans, and more. We usually only use pretreatment on dark garments or non-textiles, so the white ink bonds properly and lasts wash after wash.

3. Preparing Your Shirt To Print With DTG

Think of Pretreatment like adding a primer before you paint. It helps the ink adhere better to the t-shirt or other garment, as well as to things like canvas, denim jeans, and more. You CAN print without pretreatment, but it negatively impacts the vividness of the print and the wash-ability, so it’s almost never done.

There are 2 ways to apply Pretreatment

A. Hand Spraying  – for manual pretreating you can use the sprayer that’s a option with your direct to garment printer.

That process is basically to spray the pretreatment onto the garment as evenly as possible using a smooth back and forth motion of the sprayer. This takes some practice. Too much pretreat or too little impacts how the garment looks and washes. Manual spraying must be done in a well ventilated area away from your printer.

B. Pre Treat Machine – an automatic pretreatment machine is an enclosed device that you load your shirt into, then press a button to have the pretreat sprayed onto it.

The Pre Treat Machine is the device that we use and recommend. You can dial the amount of pretreat that is sprayed, the process only takes a moment and is consistent every time. The latter is hard to achieve with a hand sprayer.

One of the biggest advantages to the Pre Treat Machine is that it is completely enclosed so you can pretreat shirts inside a house, retail location or an office. Even right next to your DTG Printer.

4. Creating Your Graphics

All garment embellishments have to start somewhere. With direct to garment printing the work generally begins at the computer. All DTG’s need good, clean artwork to produce the best prints on your garments. Good artwork starts with professional quality graphics software like CorelDRAW, Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator.

Of course, the quality of the image you start with makes a big impact on the end result. By following a few basic guidelines in regards to resolution and background you will find it easy to design or tailor artwork to produce high quality images.

If you are not artistically inclined there are a number of clipart and template programs on the marketplace that will streamline the process for you. The general rule of direct to garment printing is that if the image looks good printed at the size you will be printing it when printed on your desktop inkjet printer, then the image will look good on a t-shirt. That being said doesn’t underestimate the importance of becoming proficient in your graphics software. 

5. Printing on a DTG Printer

Direct to garment printers generally require a specialized software package called a Raster Image Processor (RIP) to print properly. Primarily, the RIP is simply a printing utility that translates the image you created into a format that allows you the most control over the end result.

Modern RIP Software, like the application that comes with your DTG Printer, also generates the white ink under base required to print on dark garments, controls the amount of white and color ink laid down and color matching as well as other functions such as multi-shirt image placement and ink cost calculation. So it basically operates as a job management and cost management application as well as color management software. Your DTG printer will come with a RIP configured with the most common settings for the printer

6. Finishing your Garment

Once your printer is done printing the shirt you will need to cure the garment to set the inks to insure maximum wash ability.

Typical cure times range from 2-3 minutes at 340 degree F, some garments may allow you to cure at slightly higher temperatures for shorter periods of time – but you will need to test them individually – remember – the way a shirt washes will often impact future sales!

You will learn in your DTG training about different finishes you can get on your prints based on the type of curing sheet you use – Teflon, parchment, release sheets, even embroidery backing material will all give different results.

The key hardware decision in this part of the process is which heat press you select for your business. MT sells the heat press machines for superior performance, warranty and low cost.

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