Sublimation vs. DTG – What Are the Differences?

Everyone who is in the printing business must have heard about the two famous methods of printing, DTG and sublimation. Both of these techniques deliver beautiful and magnificent printed images, which is why they are used so often. However, both processes sublimation vs DTG involve the usage of printers; these two techniques are not as similar as one might think.

sublimation vs dtg

There are a few differences between sublimation printing vs DTG. I have compiled all of that information into the article below so that you know which method to opt for. If you have the questions, ‘what’s DTG printing’ and ‘how does DTG printing work’ lingering in your head, then you will find the answers to these questions in this article.

Sublimation vs. DTG – Sublimation Garment

Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing is one of the oldest methods in the book to print vivid and bright images on different surfaces. You can print any design of your liking to a mug, a ceramic piece, a shirt, or any other surface. Sublimation printing has been loved and used over the years due to the simplicity and the amazing result of this process.

However, this amazing result comes at a considerably hefty sum. In order to make sublimation prints, first, you need to buy the best sublimation printer. Owning a suitable sublimation printer is a critical step, as you cannot use a simple printer for sublimation prints. A specialized sublimation printer uses specialized sublimation paper and sublimation inks to provide you with a vivid and bright printed image that you can transfer on any surface.

The job does not end here; along with the suitable printer, you also need to buy a heat press for making sublimation prints. In case you do not want to purchase a heat press for a t-shirt or sublimation on rayon then you can also use an iron. But for mugs and other objects, you need a specialized heat press.

What is DTG Printing?

DTG printing which is also known as direct to garment printing is another method of printing images and designs on garments. This method of printing is much simpler than sublimation printing. In order to make direct to garment prints, you first need to treat the garment or the piece of fabric that you will be printing the image on. After that, you can print the image from the printer directly to the garment. You can print more than 16 million colors with the help of DTG printers.

How Does DTG Printing Work?

DTG printing uses an inkjet printer and water based inks. The inks that are used in the printing are of high quality and after it dries immediately. The best part of DTG printing is that the inks stay in their place even after getting washed. It also gives a bright and splendid printed result. DTG printing is a much simpler process, which requires only purchasing and using an inkjet printer.

DTG Printer vs. Sublimation Printer

In DTG printer vs sublimation, Sublimation printing uses sublimation printers and specialized sublimation paper. In addition to that, for making sublimation prints or sublimation garment, you also need to buy a suitable heat press. So, to make sublimation prints, you need to buy a sublimation printer that comes with sublimation inks and sublimation paper.

On the other hand, for making DTG printing, you need to use an inkjet printer. The inkjet printer that uses water based inks is used for direct to garment printing. You do not need to use a heat press for direct to garment printing.

Pre Treatment of the Fabric

In direct to garment printing vs sublimation, in order to make direct to garment prints, you first need to give a specialized pre treatment to the garment. This treatment is a necessary step if you want the end result to be vivid and bright. If you do not give the treatment to the fabric, then your print will not be as beautiful.

For sublimation printing, you do not need to pre treat the sublimation garment. To make sublimation prints, you just need to use a sublimation printer and a heat press.

Type of Inks

The major difference between direct to garment vs sublimation is the type of inks used in both processes of printing. Sublimation printing uses specialized sublimation inks. So, if you want to print bright and vivid images, then you need to use specialized sublimation inks.

But for DTG printing, you need to use water based inks that are used in inkjet printers.

DTG vs Sublimation – How to Choose

DTG printing vs sublimation, both are the most popular printing methods. Both methods has their own advantages and disadvantages. The most suitable approach varies according to your individual requirements and the product which you are going to print on. Let’s discuss how to choose the right one, according to your requirements;

Choose Sublimation if:

  • You want vibrant, all over prints on light colored polyester garments.
  • Durability and color fastness are essential, as sublimated prints are less prone to fading.
  • You are targeting a market that prefers synthetic materials like polyester.

Choose DTG if:

  • You need high quality prints on cotton or cotton blend garments, especially for intricate designs or photographs.
  • You have a smaller print run or need print on demand services without incurring setup costs.

Both direct to garment vs dye sublimation have their own strengths. To choose the right one, it depends upon your products, specific application and target audience. Some companies use both techniques to accommodate diverse customer preferences and expand their range of products.

Tips to Choose Printing Type

Its crucial to choose a printing type which is good for your business or project. Keep in mind the following factors while selecting the printing type

Color of Fabric: If we have light colored fabric then sublimation printing works good because sublimation ink merges in fibers.
If we have dark colored fabrics then DTG printing is good.

Fabric Type: Sublimation printing works best for polyester or polyester coated fabrics.
DTG printing works best for many printing type but its best for cotton fabrics.

Limitations in Colors: There is some limitations in colors. If there is a white color in our design then sublimation printing is not good.
In this case if you have white color in design then go with DTG printing.

Order Size: If you want a quick result then DTG is best because it is fast.
If you have a big order you can choose sublimation printing.

Final Product Result: The resultant image for DTG looks some rough because ink bonds with fabric.
Sublimation design image also looks like some rough.


Is DTG the same as sublimation?

No, DTG printing is not same as sublimation printing. Sublimation printing process is a unique process in which solid ink is directly converted to gaseous state without converting it into liquid state. Where as in case of DTG printing liquid ink is printed on fabric.

How long does DTG printing last?

DTG printing or direct to garment printing is famous and loved by users because it is capable of withstanding many washes. If the process has been done properly and you use the right type of inks for DTG printing, the print on the garment will last more than 50 washes.

How to make a DTG printer?

You can easily convert your printer into a DTG printer. In order to do that, first, you need to separate all the parts of the printer, especially the head. Remove the regular inks from the printer, and in their place, add specialized water-based inks used in DTG printing. Instead of adding a paper tray at the bottom, you need to add a sliding tray where you can place the shirt or garment that needs to be printed.

What is the best direct to garment printer?

The Epson SureColor F2100 DTG Printer is hands down one of the best direct-to-garment printers available in the market. This printer comes with advanced PrecisionCore printing technology, along with Epson UltraChrome inks. In addition to that, the printing speed of the Epson SureColor F2100 DTG Printer makes it one of the best direct to garment printers.


Now it is clear to you the main concept of sublimation vs DTG printing. Using different types of printers for transferring beautiful and vibrant images on garment. Both the methods make amazing and eye catchy last longer prints after any wash. I have shared my experience that I possess regarding these two methods in the article above.

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