What is digital printing?

by Sarah

Digital printing is a fairly young printing technique where digital files are printed on textile. The printing process is linked to computers, and then transferred to a digital printer. It’s like printing with a desktop inkjet printer, but the printing is only one part of a large process.

You may wonder if there’s a difference between direct to garment printing, digital direct to garment printing, digital apparel printing and inkjet to garment printing. These are all synonyms and mean exactly the same.

With digital printing, the fibers are absorbed by the ink and the ink is in the textile. This is not the case with silk screen printing, a technique that puts a layer of ink on the textile.  

How does digital printing work?

Let’s take a look at the more practical side of digital printing. How exactly does it work, what is the process?

First, the digital file has to be prepared for the printer. This is done by an expert in digital printing who knows the precise settings for each file. The settings depend on the kind of textile that has to be printed and on a multiple of other factors. Also, the colors of the design are matched to the ink colors. In short, there is a lot of technical knowledge to take into account before the digital printing.

When the digital file is ready, the printing can start. We always start with a sample piece to check if the result is okay. If something about the sample is not okay or a little detail has to be changed, the file can be updated in the settings. After the first 10 pieces are printed, there is another test to check if the results are still the same.

Digitale druk

Doing several quality controls is necessary because the result of the printing depends on the conditions of the printing room. The room has to be sealed with an adjusted temperature and humidity. The moment the environment changes, there can be an effect on the ink. That’s why several tests are required. With screen printing, there’s no need to do quality controls during the printing process, as every piece will be exactly the same. 

What you need to know about digital printing


You can be very creative with your design and use as much colors as you want. With digital printing, every design, all colors and even the most tiny detail is possible. So it’s perfect to print photos or designs with a lot of gradients.


The result of digital printing depends on the quality of the ink. If you choose good-quality ink, the colors will be perfect, and the print will be durable. Good-quality ink is not cheap, that’s why the price per print is higher than screen printing.

Because the colors of the digital file are matched to the inks o you don’t work in pantone or CMYK colors. Unlike with screen printing, where you can exactly determine the type of color.


The textile is really important, because the print will be ugly if you choose bad-quality textile. We always print on cotton textile to have a perfect and durable result.

With digital printing, the ink goes in in the fibers. For white textile, the printing will be absolutely great. Colored textile has already been pretreated to have the color. That’s why we always use an underlayer or a coating layer on colored and black T-shirts. This is necessary to have a durable product and a great color effect. If there is no coating layer, the print will disappear after a few washings. This is not a standard for every printing company, but it’s our standard to print an underlayer.


The price per print is higher than screen printing, but there is no cost of all the technical steps that are required. So you never have to pay a start-up cost, a fixed cost, or a cost to do the preparations of the digital file.


Let’s go for digital printing!

When is digital printing the best choice? Digital printing is perfect if you want to print a small quantity (>25 pieces) with a design with a lot of colors. Choose the right partner who has expertise in digital printing, and make sure that your partner prints a coating layer if you have colored textile.

Be inspired, and discover these awesome digital prints on textile 
we made for our clients

Do you need personal advice for your needs? Contact our expertised team, they are happy to help you.

About Merchandise Essentials

In 2015 Merchandise Essentials consisted out of two young guys with big dreams. Working out of their parents’ living room they started turning those dreams into goals.

The living room became a 600m2 office space with a showroom. The two man team turned into a workforce of more than 30 young and talented individuals who are now designing and producing merchandise for brands and businesses in 43 countries.


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