By now, most fashion designers are inclined to Print Digitally. The benefits definitely outweigh the cons, however I have found through experience that it largely depends on the individual business model. It is not hard to see why Digital Printing is so fabulous, small runs and an endless amount of sensational colours, many find value in such simple pleasures.
First seen in the late 1980s, digital fabric printing uses an ink jet printer to create the design directly onto the item in a method called Direct to Garment (DTG). DTG printing tends to be quicker, more economical and more accurate than traditional screen printing techniques.
The inks used in digital printing are formulated specifically for each type of fiber, such as cotton, silk, polyester or nylon. During the printing process, the fabric is fed through the printer using rollers and ink, which is applied to the surface in the form of thousands of tiny droplets. The fabric is then finished using heat and or steam to cure the ink. Some inks also require washing and drying.
The sampling process for Screen Printing is also a lot more of a commitment, as the suppliers need to cut the screens. At times, they may print your sample digitally without you knowing to save them from cutting screens without your order.
Traditional screen printed fabrics usually appear on the market about a year after they are designed. With digital printing, it’s possible to go from the design stage to finished fabric in a matter of weeks or days, with an on-site printer or a steady relationship offshore. This allows you to take advantage of current trends, and even change prints or colors mid-season. This also links back to a Blog post I made previously about some of the advantages of having your own custom designs.
Digital Fabric Printers can print your design with unlimited colours on your choice of fabric, natural or polyester. The amount of colours in your artwork does not affect the print price, unlike counted colours with screen printing.
Sublimation Printing, another method of Digital File Printing, requires white fabric with a high synthetic content to achieve a rich colour. Local Brisbane Printer, Emerald Dreams says the more synthetic content, the more saturation of colour you can achieve.
Many textile printers require a large batch for screen printing due to the associated cost and effort to create the desired item. Smaller batches are possible through DTG printing techniques, which offer a less expensive option for smaller runs for many companies and individuals.
Another advantage of digital fabric printing, which is receiving higher profile attention among manufacturers, consumers and environmentalists is the substantial lower cost of production in terms of electricity and water consumption of over 30% savings on electricity costs and almost 95% in terms of water consumption.
While I do believe their are strong advantages of Traditional Screen Printing, with the commercial introduction of Digital Printing there is now a need to grow the complexity of what was once a simple design. While Screen printed fabrics will always have their space in the market, Digital Fabrics offer the consumer a fabric that's artwork has depth and gradients.