Custom Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Indianapolis

Custom DTG Printing

What is it: Direct to garment printing (also known as DTG or digtal printing) is the newest and most advanced type of apparel decoration.  Instead of using screens for each color like screen printing does, a specially designed printer prints a full color image directly onto the garment in minutes.  There can be large variences in the quality of DTG printers (from modified ink jet printers to custom built industrial machines).  Some machines do not have the ability to print white ink, so they cannot print on dark colored shirt. Advantages of DTG printing over screen printing are quick setup times and affordable, vibrant, full color prints. Using CYMK+White inks, you can print a one-off photograph on a shirt for under $20. With traditional screen printing using 4 color process printing, this same job would likely cost you well over $200 with screen charges and printing minumums.

Equipment: We use state-of-the-art Kornit Digital industrial direct to garment printers and inks.  Kornit's patented printing process pretreats the garment first, and then prints the image directly on top of it (wet on wet printing).  This allows for high quality and speedy printing.

Time-lapse video footage of one of our Kornit DTG printers.

Training and environment: In addtion to having a high quality printer, proper training is crucial to receive a good looking print. We have received nearly 40 hours of training from Kornit on the printer, graphics setup, and curing so prints look vibrant and bond to the shirt so they last through dozens of washes. We also have over five years of experience running these machines. We also developed wet-capping stations for our printers, and operate them in perfect conditions so ink flow is perfect, resulting in streak-free printing.  You can spend $150,000 on a great machine, but not placing it in the proper environment will result in many printing issues.
kornit direct to garment printing
Perfect nozzle checks mean streak-free DTG prints thanks to our wet-capping stations

Artwork Settings: Below you will find tips on how to setup your files to get the best looking print possible, and also things to look out for when choosing a company that offers direct-to-garment printing.

For best results, artwork should ideally come in the following formats:
-Vector: Corel Draw (.cdr), Adobe Illustrator (.ai), .svg, or .eps files CMYK.  Files should be converted to curves/outlines so missing font's are not an issue.
-Photoshop: 300 dpi image sized to be the actual print size you want on the shirt; 8-bit; CMYK; merge all files to a single layer, and MUST be on a transparent background.  It should not have background images, and should be setup so there is less than 1/8" space between the image and the edge of the artboard.  (Don't send a 3" x 3" image on a 12" x 10" artboard)
-When creating files for printing on any garment color but white, designs should not have have transparent elements.  DTG inks are not transparent and this can result in odd-looking prints (white halos). 
-Items downloaded from the internet (unless purchased from artwork sites) are generally only 72 dpi-low resolution files, and in most cases, illegal to reproduce. If you don't have professional graphic design software, you can use our online designer, or have us create something for you.
-Artwork submitted not following these guidelines will result in artwork charges.
kornit direct to garment printing
Left image: High resolution photo; Right image: Low resolution photo

Notice: Due to the sensitivity of the inks and printing process, the colors you see on the screen are not always what you will get when printing. We have print charts with hundreds of colors (and their CMYK values) for you to choose from, along with a list of codes for popular colors. Using these codes when designing your art to print on our printers will give you the best results. Below are examples of how different red and blue appear on the screen compared to how they look when printed.

kornit direct to garment printing
Left image: how the images looks on the screen; Right image: how the image looks when printed and dried.

CMYK Values:When designing your artwork for use on our printers, please use the following CMYK values so the results are what you expect:
Royal Blue-100/46/0/0
Golden Yellow-1/19/100/0
Hot Pink-0/96/20/0
Navy Blue-100/44/0/76
Old Gold-16/27/84/16
Light Pink-0/50/0/0
For other colors, please come in and check out our color charts. Finally, when designing, CMYK values should add up to be below 260. For example, never make black 100/100/100/100. It will result in too much ink being printed on the shirt and the ink will bleed into other colors.

Print Sizes: Our machines can print up images up to 13.5" x 17.5" in size. We offer three different print size price points...up to 25 sq in (or 5"x5", up to 120 sq in (or 10"x12"), up to 236.25 sq in (13.5"x17.5"). See our price charts for more information.

Printable Fabrics: DTG was designed to print on 100% cotton. 100% ringspun cotton works best, as the fibers are smoother and the ink lays down flatter. Cotton/poly blends will also work, but the less cotton in the garment, the less vibrant the colors will appear. 100% poylester can be printed, but non-cationic polyster cost more to print. Other materials that absorb water generally work. We have printed canvas, denim, masonite board, and wood.  For printing on white, and other light colored 100% polyester garments, sublimation may be your answer.

Print Settings: When digitally printing, there are many settings to choose from that result in thousands of ways to print the same file. These settings include print speed, ink levels, number of coats of white ink (for the underbase), print resolution, etc. While many online fulfilment centers use budget settings and chooose quantity over quality, we will choose the best settings for your file and garment. We don't use automated systems that just print the file as is regardless of how it will look when completed.  There can be drastic differences in print quality between budget settings and quality settings.

Curing: Curing the ink is just as important as the printer and print settings used to print a design. Proper curing must occur to acheive washability and a long-lasting print. Many decorators rush this step and while the design looks done, will not make it through the wash. A good way to know if a print is cured is to stretch it. If the ink stays in place, the print is cured. If it cracks, the ink has not bonded to the shirt. This will fall off in the wash prematurely and you will not be pleased. Stop by our office and we can show you this in person.

Garment Care: Once you have your garment, proper care is necessary to achieve a normal garment and print life. For all garments, we recommend cold-water washing inside out and hang drying. You may tumble dry on fluff (no heat). Never iron over the decoration. Following these steps will help you acheive the maximum amount of life for your garment. Remember, no garment or print is designed to last forever!

We have samples of all this and more in our office. Please come by and check them out, get your questions answered, and see if DTG is right for your apparel project!

If you are looking for custom direct-to-garment (dtg) digitally printed shirts in the Indianapolis Metropolitan area (Alexandria, Anderson, Arcadia, Avon, Bargersville, Beech Grove, Broadripple, Brooklyn, Brownsburg, Camby, Carmel, Chesterfield, Cicero, Clayton, Clermont, Cloverdale, Cumberland, Danville, Edgewood, Edinburgh, Elwood, Fishers, Fortville, Franklin, Frankton, Greencastle, Greenfield, Greenwood, Indianpaolis, Ingalls, Lapel, Lwarence, Lebanon, Martinsville, McCordsville, Meridian Hills, Monrovia, Mooresville, Morristown, Nashville, New Palestine, New Whiteland, Noblesville, Pendleton, Pittsboro, Plainfield, Princes Lakes, Shelbyville, Sheridan, Southport, Speedway, St. Paul, Thortown, Trafalgar, Warren Park, Westfield, Whiteland, Whitestown, and Zionsville), A+ Images can help.
Not located in one of these cites? We also service Bloomington, Fort Wayne, Terre Haute, Evansville, Northwest Indiana, along with the entire country! Wholesale DTG services are available.

For questions about the DTG printing process, please contact Doug via email, or call 317-405-8955.