Direct To Garment Vs Sublimation: What Is Better DTG Or Sublimation? [Learn 5 Differences]

In the dynamic world of custom apparel printing, two methods reign supreme – Direct to Garment (DTG) and Sublimation. Both boast their own set of unique strengths and, of course, a few drawbacks. Today, I am delving into the exciting battleground of Direct to Garment vs Sublimation, comparing these print titans on a range of factors, from print quality and durability to cost-effectiveness. 

By the end of this post, my aim is to assist you in determining the most suitable technique for your unique custom apparel printing requirements. Prepare yourself, fashion enthusiasts, as we embark on a profound exploration into the realm of print!

direct to garment vs sublimation

What Is DTG (Direct To Garment) Printing?

DTG Printing, also known as Direct-to-Garment Printing, is a revolutionary technique used in the textile industry that has simplified and improved the process of printing designs and images onto T-shirts and other garments. This technology is a manifestation of the latest developments in the field of digital printing, where printable designs and images can be easily transformed into accurately positioned and colorful prints on T-shirts in a matter of minutes.

DTG Printing involves the use of specialized aqueous inks that are sprayed or jetted out of the print heads directly onto the fabric of the garment. The ink penetrates and soaks into the fibers of the fabric, creating a permanent bond that results in vibrant, long-lasting, and high-quality prints. Unlike other printing methods, such as screen printing, DTG Printing is versatile and highly efficient, with the ability to easily print complex designs, gradients, and even photographs on T-shirts and other garments.

As the name suggests, DTG Printing is a technology that enables you to print designs straight onto the surface of a garment, much like printing on paper. This means you can accurately register designs, colors, and positions of various artwork elements without worrying about any misalignment or distortion.

Pros of DTG Printing

  • High-quality, vibrant prints that are long-lasting and durable.
  • Versatile with the ability to print complex designs, gradients, and photographs.
  • Accurate registration of designs and colors without any misalignment or distortion.
  • Cost-effective for small batches or one-off prints.

Cons of DTG Printing

  • Limited color options due to CMYK color mode used in printing.
  • Limited fabric choices as it works best on 100% cotton or blends with high cotton content.
  • Longer production time compared to other printing methods, making it less suitable for large orders or tight deadlines.

What Is Sublimation Printing?

Sublimation printing is a revolutionary printing technique that uses heat and ink to transfer designs onto fabric or materials. It’s a dry printing method that allows designs to penetrate into the fabric’s fibers, producing a seamless, high-definition image that does not crack or peel over time. Sublimation printing is becoming increasingly popular in the world of apparel, as it provides a unique and long-lasting print on clothing.

The sublimation printing process involves a digital printer that uses sublimation ink to print designs onto a transfer paper. The transfer paper is then placed onto the garment, and heat is applied using a heat press. The heat causes the ink to turn into a gas, penetrating the fabric’s fibers and solidifying into the material.

Pros of Sublimation Printing

  • High-definition, vibrant prints that do not fade, crack, or peel over time.
  • It can be applied to a variety of materials, such as polyester, spandex, and blends.
  • Best for light-colored fabrics.
  • Fast production time for large orders and tight deadlines.

Cons of Sublimation Printing

  • Limited fabric options as it only works on materials that can withstand high heat and pressure.
  • Not the best option for natural fabrics like cotton.
  • It is not cost-effective for small batches or one-off prints.

Direct to Garment Vs Sublimation: Differences Between Both Printing

When it comes to printing designs onto clothing and accessories, two popular methods are Direct Garment (DTG) and Sublimation. While both methods produce high-quality prints, there are several differences between them. Here are the key differences between DTG and Sublimation printing:

#1. Ink Type

DTG printing uses water-based ink that is absorbed into the fibers of the material. On the other hand, Sublimation printing uses dye-based ink that turns into a gas when heated and bonds with the fibers of the material. This means that DTG prints feel softer and more natural, while Sublimation prints are more vibrant and have a longer lifespan.

#2. Material Type

DTG printing can be done on a variety of materials, including 100% cotton, cotton blends, and some synthetic fabrics. Sublimation printing, on the other hand, is best suited for polyester fabrics and polyester blends. This is because the dye-based ink used in Sublimation printing bonds better with polyester fibers.

#3. Printing Process

DTG printing involves printing the design directly onto the garment using a specialized printer. This means that each garment needs to be printed individually, and the process can take longer. Sublimation printing involves printing the design onto transfer paper first and then using heat and pressure to transfer the design onto the fabric. This method allows for faster printing and can be done in larger batches.

#4. Limitations

DTG printing is limited in terms of color accuracy and design size as it is a surface printing method. Sublimation printing, on the other hand, allows for unlimited colors and designs that can span seam-to-seam. However, Sublimation printing is limited in terms of material choice, as it only works with polyester fabrics.

#5. Cost

DTG printing is more cost-effective for smaller batches or one-off prints, while Sublimation printing is more economical for larger orders. This is because DTG printing requires less setup and preparation time, making it ideal for small runs.

What Is Better DTG or Sublimation?

You already know about all the differences between DTG and Sublimation printing, but which method is better? The answer to this question depends on your specific needs and requirements.

If you’re looking for vibrant, high-definition prints on cotton or cotton blend fabrics, DTG printing might be the better option. DTG is better than sublimation when you need to print on dark and vibrant colors. 

However, if you want to print designs on light-colored polyester fabrics, then Sublimation printing would be the way to go. Sublimation printing is also a better choice for larger orders or when you want to print seam-to-seam designs.

To learn more about direct to garment (DTG vs sublimation, check out the video content below.

FAQs on Direct to Garment Vs Sublimation

Does sublimation last longer than DTG?

Yes, sublimation prints tend to last longer than DTG prints as the dye-based ink used in Sublimation printing bonds better with the fabric’s fibers. The reason is that DTG printing only prints on the surface of the fabric, while sublimation ink penetrates into the fibers, creating a more durable print.

Is sublimation better on cotton or polyester?

Sublimation printing is better on polyester fabrics as the dye-based ink used in Sublimation printing bonds better with polyester fibers. However, it can also be used on cotton or cotton blend fabrics, but the prints may not be as vibrant and long-lasting as they would be on polyester. In contrast, DTG printing works best on cotton or cotton blends. 

How many shirts can be printed per hour on the DTG printer?

The number of shirts that can be printed per hour on a DTG printer depends on several factors such as the complexity of the design, size of the print area, and the speed of the printer. On average, a DTG printer can produce 15-20 prints per hour. However, this number may vary depending on the specific printer and conditions.  

How many colors can DTG print?

DTG printing can produce a wide range of colors, ranging from solid colors to complex gradients and even photographic images. This is due to the fact that DTG printers utilize CMYK inks to produce a vast spectrum of colors. The four colors in CMYK stand for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, which are mixed in various ratios to produce different hues and shades.

When printing with CMYK inks, the colors are separated into tiny dots that are layered on top of each other to create the final image. This process is called halftoning, and it allows for a high degree of color accuracy and detail. The size and density of these dots are carefully controlled to produce the desired color and hue.

Is sublimation cheaper than DTG printing?

Yes, sublimation printing is generally cheaper than DTG printing. This is because DTG printing requires more setup time and costs for each individual print, while sublimation printing can be done in larger batches with less setup time. Also, the price of a DTG printer can be over $10,000, while a sublimation printer is usually under $ 2,500. However, the cost may vary depending on factors such as ink and material costs, design complexity, and order size. It’s essential to compare prices and consider your specific needs before deciding which method is more cost-effective for you. 


You now know about both DTG and sublimation printing. In the apparel industry, both printing methods have their own pros and cons, so it’s important to consider your specific needs before deciding on a printing method. Whichever method you choose, both DTG and Sublimation offer high-quality and durable prints that will make your designs stand out. Experiment with both methods to see which one works best for you and your brand.

Tamim Shikder
Tamim Shikder

Head of the editorial team of I have been working as a merchandiser in the apparel-sourcing industry for the last seven years. Over the years, I have gained a strong understanding of the clothing business and have developed skills in product development, quality control, pricing negotiation and customer service. I am also well versed in the latest trends of fashion and retail industry. For any clothing manufacturing needs, please email me at

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