What is the difference between digital printing and sublimation on t-shirts?

Custom Shirts Dallas

If there’s one thing that never goes out of style, it’s custom clothing. The possibility of wearing exclusive clothing that represents your identity is attractive to all types of audiences. After all, it is enough to order the desired print and literally wear the shirt.

T-shirt printing techniques 

There are different ways to customize t-shirts and other clothing items but we will discuss those which we are using for the printing custom shirts in Dallas. For homemade and handmade production, it is possible to paint directly on the fabric. But, if the idea is to sell, there are simple techniques that generate perfect results, maintaining the originality of the design ordered by the client. Among the best known ways to achieve the result are Sublimation on T-shirts and Digital Printing, and we will explain the difference between them below: 

T-shirt sublimation 

The technique involves an antecedent step, in which the design is printed on specific paper. Afterwards, the transfer to the final product is done by means of a heat press. Sublimation works on white backgrounds or light colors and it is possible to use it to print materials such as glass, fabric and metal, so it is common for customizing mugs and caps, for example. 

ideal fabrics

In general, the most suitable fabrics for sublimation on T-shirts are those with synthetic fibers, as they chemically react to the dyes used. Among them, polyester, satin and crepe. 

Advantages of sublimation 

Simple technique with multicolored images and photos;

Variety of production: it is possible to customize different products, such as mugs, fabrics, ecobags, among others;

Possibility of making complete prints on the entire fabric;

It does not use screens for printing, as the image is transferred from paper to fabric, reducing costs and offering a more practical process. 

Unlike other techniques, such as Transfer, it does not leave the feeling of a print glued to the shirt, ensuring a better finish. 

Disadvantages of T-shirt sublimation

Restricted colors and effects obtained with a common printer;

Restriction on the composition of the fabric, as the fabrics must have at least 60% synthetic fiber – for example: Polyester; 

Objects need to be specific (resined);

It is not possible to customize fabrics and dark objects;

It is necessary to print a copy of the art for each print, so it is not worth producing for low demand;

Does not allow creating special effects with metallic paint;

Restricted process mainly for t-shirts;

The fabric must have at least 60% synthetic fiber.

  1. Fingerprint on T-shirt 

Also known as DTG (Direct To Garment Printing), the T-shirt printing technique allows the art to appear directly on the fabric through a digital printer, dispensing with matrix fabrication. With it, it is possible to print dark fabrics with high quality and unlimited colors. In addition, the confection can be made on demand, since there is no minimum production.

ideal fabrics

For digital printing, fabrics made of natural fibers, such as cotton and 100% viscose, for example, are more suitable. It is necessary to pre-prepare the fabric with a product that allows the ink to penetrate. Then there is the post-preparation done with steaming to close the fibers.

Advantages of DGT: 

Simple process: printing is easy as it requires no knowledge of prepress or ink mixing.

Low-volume advantage : Allows on-demand T-shirt printing of any volume. Thus, it is possible, for example, for brands to install a printing totem inside the store and the customer can choose his print and go out wearing the product, for example. 

Rich details and more print possibilities: it is possible to create a final product with the same quality as the original design. That’s because the use of digital data makes for faithful color matching at the time of printing on t-shirts and other fabrics, in addition to a much greater wealth of detail. 

Sustainability : digital printing reduces ink waste and also does not use paper or fabric, i.e. it does not create waste. 

Agility: a unique process in which the design is printed directly onto the fabric, eliminating the need for a screen or paper matrix.

Possibility of tests: as the DTG technique does not have a minimum volume, you can print a pilot piece from a collection, test a print before producing it in large scale or print specific products that will be used in a single event without worrying about loss.


When making your choice, it is important to consider that inks and the DTG printer may cost more at first. However, it is necessary to evaluate the productive capacity among the techniques, cost-benefit and added value to make the ideal choice for your business. 

Another important factor is to observe periodic maintenance on the equipment, since the technologies are very different and their processes may require more details. 

Innovate with creativity!

If you want to offer a differential and stand out, invest in surprising designs and material quality. To choose the most appropriate technique, analyze your target audience and understand what the final use will be given to your confection. Also, study your needs and how much you are willing to invest. Thus, your business comes out ahead with quality and assertive choices.


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