The Process of Digital T-Shirt Printing

Digital printing is a new printing concept that uses fabrics, and in this case, t-shirts instead of paper. The artwork is processed by a computer before being printed directly to the surface of your t-shirt. Unlike other printing techniques, digital printing produces higher resolution prints, making it ideal for replicating images onto custom t-shirts. If you are planning to make your own shirt digital t-shirt printing is a great option.


The inkjet printing technology that is used in digital printing was first patented in 1968. The use of inkjet printer then grew through the years and was used for paper printing application in the 1990’s. These are similar to the paper printers used in offices. Inkjet printers create images by mapping droplets of ink into the paper.

The growth of technology has seen the rise of many printers that are specialized to handle a variety of substrates including paper, vinyl, canvas and fabric. In order to have a successful digital t-shirt printing, certain variables must come to place. This includes printer and RItechnology, files and color management, ink or dyes, pre and post treatment processes of the t-shirts, and of course, the customer’s expectation.

It is important to note that the inks used in digital printing are specifically made for each type of fiber. There are inks formulated specifically for silk, cotton, polyester, nylon and many more. By the use of rollers, the t-shirt is fed into the printer and ink is applied in form of tiny droplets. Steam or heat is then applied to cure the ink. There are also inks that are cured by washing and drying.

Digital Printing Design Process

You can create the designs on the t-shirts digitally using graphic design software. Photoshop and illustrator are the most commonly used graphic design software. Another way of creating designs is scanning photographs and artwork and digitally manipulating them to make a pattern.

You can create a design by repeating a seamless pattern across the fabric. Alternatively, designs can be created by filling an entire yard without repeating. However, this process is not ideal to use with a large file because it will be difficult for the printing service to process.

Things to Remember When Designing T-Shirts Using Digital Printing

Choose Colors Accordingly

Before you begin designing, you should know which color model works best for your printer. You may find that the colors appear differently on the fabric compared to how they appear on your computer screen. You should also be aware of colors that are hard to produce such as rich red. Always remember to set up your design in ways that the color can easily be changed using vector artwork or layers.

Print Swatches

Basically, the color and texture of your t-shirt is likely to have visible effects on the print. For instance, silk and other shiny fabrics reflect light, and this can make the print appear lighter while thin fabrics can make the print seem washed out since they are transparent. You should, therefore, look for swatches from digital printing services that offer them.

Remain Original

It is easy to find yourself making a copy of a popular commercial print. However, unlike clothing designs, print designs are usually copyrighted by the manufacture or artist. It is, therefore, vital that you stay original and come up with your own unique designs. If you are not able to come up with unique prints, it is advisable to hire a designer.

If you are considering doing digital printing, it is of paramount importance that you familiarize yourself with the whole process. As time goes on, technology in digital t-shirt printing continues to develop. With digital printing, your custom t-shirts will have detailed prints that are soft to touch and that will last longer.

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