How are your beautiful graphics printed?

Discover the different printing processes used by our print on demand service.

2 years ago - 7 min reading

By Julien Bernard
How are your beautiful graphics printed?
Table of contents

At T-Pop, you need to know that your great visuals are printed using various digital printing processes. The aim? To make your creations as beautiful as possible by choosing techniques that will enhance them.

Without wishing to boast (it's not like us...), we often receive positive comments about the quality of our printing. This is particularly touching because it took us some time to learn how to get a premium printing result, on all media. Today, we are proud to say that we have found the right recipe. While we do everything in our power to provide you with a quality service across the board, from the ease of use of our application to our technical support, printing is still the core of our business. Providing you and your customers with superior products that live up to your brand is what drives us.

Let's take a look at the techniques we use to provide you with beautiful, beautifully printed products.

The GDD for clothing

Most of our textile products (clothing, tote bags, etc.) are printed using a digital printing system called DTG, which stands for Direct To Garment.

DTG first emerged in 2005, but it has taken a good few years to make it viable for current production methods. It is still quite rare in the market, and we are delighted to include it in our service, as this direct digital textile printing is a great printing process in many respects, even a real revolution. However, it requires a very precise and complex manual process.

How does it work?

Your textile is placed on a tray, then after transferring your design to the printer, the printer sprays the various water-based inks (environmentally friendly and Vegan) on the surface of the textile. In order to dry and fix this ink within the mesh, your textile is passed through a drying tunnel (think of it as a giant oven with a conveyor belt).

Important note: to print on dark textile colors , it is necessary to apply a pre-treatment liquid to prepare the substrate. This is because the composition of white ink is different from other inks on color and is more technical to print. This translates into a higher printing cost on visuals that need an undercoat. That said, the result is well worth it.

What are the advantages of GDT?

Direct printing on T-shirts by T-Pop, the environmentally friendly Print on Demand service.

Plenty. There's plenty.

The first is the flexibility of the process: whether it is for the production of a single T-shirt or for an order of 100 pieces, there are no technical costs involved. Also, although its use requires a certain expertise, it should be noted that DTG is an extremely fast process: the transition from print file to finished product is almost immediate. And no, it's not magic... It's DTG.

In addition to being eco-responsible thanks to the possibility of using environmentally friendly water-based inks , this method proves to be opposed to mass production thanks to its quasi-instantaneous production character. Therefore, no minimum quantity of products is required for your orders.

Another important advantage is the print quality : it's simple, the rendering is as precise as a classic paper printer.

There is no limit to the number of colors, nor to your imagination. The printed result will be very close to your original design. The "hand" (i.e. the feel of the textile) is fantastic and is almost imperceptible. Note that this printing process is mainly adapted to 100% cotton textiles; on other types of textile (and in particular on polyester), it is preferable to use DTF, flocking or sublimation.

Sublimation printing for other materials

Mugs, water bottles, cushions and pouches are printed with our dye sublimation printers.

What does this mean?

Technically, when the pigment in the ink is heated to almost 200°, it changes from a solid to a gaseous state.

We print your visual on a suitable support, then we apply it to the product to be marked. A heat press or a tunnel will finally allow the ink to react on the object, and to fix it completely in it. This is a method that requires many more steps than DTG; nevertheless, your sublimation products are still produced and profitable quickly enough to benefit your business.

Note that in order to transfer the image onto the object, it must be coated with a specific coating to be able to be sublimated: in short, a classic white mug from the shops will not be sublimable.

What are the benefits?

There's two of them, mostly.

First of all, the process ensures that the printed product is incredibly resistant to wear and tear: in other words, your visuals are "integrated" into the product for an indefinite period. Washing, repeated use,... nothing can alter your work. This is an excellent printing solution that fits perfectly with our ambition to participate in a more sustainable mode of consumption.

Secondly, there is no limit to colors and they come out of the print particularly bright, which makes for an exceptional aesthetic. We have selected the best of the best, just for you, the T-Partners.

Two-coloured mug printed on demand with sublimation.

DTF (Direct To Film) for specific prints

Recently, we have decided to purchase DTF printing equipment in order to be able to carry out specific print jobs that we were not able to do before.

DTF takes its name from the English "Direct to Film", meaning "Directly to the film" (we know, it doesn't sound as good in French). It is a very young technique, which is just beginning to make itself known in the Print on Demand world.

It may seem rather laborious compared to the DTG, but it does have some significant advantages. Let's explain a little...

How does the DTF work?

As the name suggests, the principle involves printing a visual onto a film and then transferring it to the chosen surface of a product. This technique is only valid for textile products, it will not work on other types of material.

First, the design is printed on a special film. The pre-printed film is then coated with DTF powder so that the design can adhere properly to the textile. Finally, the pre-printed and powdered film is applied to the product with a heat press. This is a much longer process than DTG. It is a method that is used more rarely, for collar markings or for small printing runs on a specific location (e.g. sleeves). For the latter case, we do not yet offer automated production of your parts; please contact our support for any request.

The DTF; what are the advantages?

The DTF differs from the DTG mainly in that it has a rather special finish, which may appear a little plastic at first glance (but which, rest assured, contains absolutely no plastic). However, this print will be very elastic and therefore very unlikely to wear out due to cracks and other fissures. The final product is therefore highly resistant to time and washing.

As mentioned earlier, the second advantage of this technique is that it gives us more freedom in choosing the location of the print.

Unlike DTG, which is mainly suitable for cotton, DTF is an all-round printing technique: it will print on cotton as well as on polyester without any problems.

It also turns out that the white in DTF printing is always particularly bright and brilliant : a small bonus, all in all, quite appreciable.

For textiles, a complex production chain

Because a little reminder is never too much, here is a summary of our DTG printing process for light and dark textiles.

Because each step requires human intervention, we let you imagine...

In the case of a clear textile, the process is as follows:

  1. We receive your order
  2. We are going to look for the product to be printed (the picking)
  3. We take it to a printer...
  4. An operator will prepare the printing (possible cropping of the file, checking the printing parameters, placing the product on the printing plate...).
  5. The product is printed by the same operator
  6. He'll then put it in a drying tunnel.
  7. Another operator will pick up the product at the exit of the tunnel...
  8. We check that the order is complete
  9. We pack your order
  10. The order is ready to be shipped
  11. We entrust it to the Post Office.

In the case of a dark textile, the process is as follows:

  1. We receive your order
  2. We will look for the product to be printed (picking)
  3. We bring it close to the pre-treatment machine.
  4. An operator will pre-treat the product which will then be dried.
  5. Another operator brings it close to the printer.
  6. An operator will prepare the printing (possible cropping of the file, checking the printing parameters, placing the product on the printing plate...).
  7. The product is printed by the same operator
  8. He'll then put it in a drying tunnel.
  9. Another operator will pick up the product at the exit of the tunnel...
  10. We check that the order is complete
  11. We pack your order
  12. The order is ready to be shipped
  13. We entrust it to the Post Office.

Of course, this summary is simplified as much as possible, but you should know that many other operations are necessary with print on demand: prior verification of order parameters, printing of stickers if the order contains them, verification of visuals before printing, folding of products, printing of package labels, etc.

So don't forget: despite the automated aspect of our service, every step requires human intervention, and it's always our pudgy little fingers that prepare and print all your orders. All with love, of course.

Convinced by this summary of the techniques we use to enhance your creations? Curious to see the result in real time thanks to a sample order? Don't hesitate: our application is waiting for you. (Link)

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