Sublimation vs DTG: Which printing technique wins?

Are you indecisive about the best printing method for your project – Sublimation or DTG? Trust me, I’ve been there. With a background in digital printing and countless hours spent reviewing both techniques, I understand just how important this decision can be.

In this blog post: Sublimation vs DTG: Which printing technique wins? we’re going to embark on a comprehensive journey of exploration – discussing from their processes and advantages to their suitability for various materials – all designed to simplify your decision-making process.

Ready to get enlightened? Let’s dive in!

Understanding Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing is a unique process that involves transferring a design from special paper onto a garment through the application of heat and pressure.

Process and technique

The artistry in sublimation printing is born out of a meticulous process and technique. Let’s break this down into comprehensible steps:

  1. It all begins with creating the design. Being digital, you can go as intricate or as minimalist with your visuals.
  2. Next, you need to print it using a sublimation printer filled with dye sublimation ink, known for its waterproof and smudge-resistant properties.
  3. The design is printed on a special transfer paper specifically designed for dye – sublimation.
  4. Preheat your heat press machine while you position your transfer paper on the polyester item neatly to avoid any creases or misalignment.
  5. Set the temperature and time on the heat press according to manufacturer instructions for best results.
  6. Once heated adequately, place the garment with the transfer paper under the heated plate and close it to apply pressure evenly across the surface.
  7. The heat from the press transforms the solid ink dyes into gas without passing through a liquid stage, hence ‘sublimation’, which then permeates directly into fabric’s structure.
  8. First off, prepare your cotton fabric by applying pretreatment solutions to create an adhesive surface.
  9. Load your prepared garment onto the DTG printer where it will be held stationary for printing.
  10. Visualize your creativity digitally, then convert this vision into reality by loading it onto included software that works seamlessly with inkjet technology—used in Direct-to-Garment printers.
  11. The advanced technology injects tiny droplets of ink directly onto your garment, effectively creating high-resolution prints that are full-color spectrums.

Exploring DTG Printing

DTG printing is a popular method that uses inkjet technology to directly spray ink onto a garment, resulting in high-quality and detailed designs.

Process and technique

In the fascinating world of printing, techniques such as sublimation and DTG play a crucial role. Be it for personal use or commercial ends, understanding these two processes can make a great difference.

Pros and cons

As a seasoned sublimation maker, you’re likely aware that every printing method comes with its pros and cons. Sublimation and DTG printing are both popular techniques, but their unique advantages and drawbacks mean they’re better suited to certain projects and materials. Let’s review the pros and cons of each technique in the table below:

DTG Printing

Sublimation Printing
  • Offers more printing options as it can be printed onto the entire fabric.
  • Uses a special type of smudge-resistant and waterproof ink.
  • Commonly used for polyester garments, delivering vibrant and durable prints.
  • Primarily used for cotton applications, providing flexibility in fabric choice.
  • Uses inkjet technology, often associated with high-quality prints.
  • Works on blended fabrics, although colors may vary.
  • Limited to polyester and cannot be used on cotton material.
  • The cost of printing may be high depending on the project’s specifics.
  • May not offer as many customization options as sublimation printing.
  • The cost can also be high, depending on the complexity of the design and volume of the print job.

By carefully considering the pros and cons of each method, you’ll be able to choose the best technique for your current project and future endeavors.

Sublimation vs DTG: The key differences

Sublimation printing is suitable for polyester fabrics and offers vibrant colors, high durability, and the ability to print all over the fabric, while DTG printing works best on cotton and has limitations in color vibrancy, print durability, and production speed.

Advantages and disadvantages

As proficient makers in the sublimation space, we all know that each printing method comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s delve into the key benefits and potential drawbacks of both sublimation and DTG printing.

Sublimation DTG
  • Primarily used for polyester, offering high quality and durable prints.
  • The special dye sublimation ink used is waterproof and smudge-resistant.
  • Offers more printing options as it can be applied to the entire fabric.
  • Ideal for large volume orders.
  • Primarily used for cotton applications, but can also work on blended fabrics.
  • Utilizes inkjet technology to spray ink directly onto an item, ensuring crisp and clear prints.
  • Offers a wider color range compared to sublimation.
  • Ideal for small volume orders and customization.
  • Limited to polyester or coated materials.
  • Colors may appear differently on blended fabrics.
  • May not be cost-effective for small volumes.
  • Not suitable for polyester or non-cotton materials.
  • While durable, the print may not be as long-lasting as sublimation prints.
  • May not be cost-effective for large volumes.

In essence, both sublimation and DTG have unique strengths and limitations. As makers, it’s crucial for us to understand these differences to find the most suitable printing method depending on our project requirements.

Suitable fabrics and materials

Sublimation printing and DTG printing work best on different types of fabrics and materials. Sublimation printing is primarily used for polyester garments, as the ink is specially formulated to bond with the fabric fibers.

This results in vibrant colors that are long-lasting and resistant to fading or cracking. However, sublimation printing may not be suitable for cotton or other natural fibers, as the ink will not adhere properly.

On the other hand, DTG printing is ideal for cotton fabrics. The ink used in DTG printing is designed to penetrate the fabric, ensuring a seamless integration of design and material.

It can also be used on blended fabrics, although it’s important to note that colors may appear differently on these types of textiles.

When considering which method to use, it’s essential to take into account the type of fabric you’ll be working with. If polyester garments are your main focus, then sublimation printing would be the better choice.

However, if cotton fabrics dominate your projects, then DTG printing would offer superior results.

Print quality and durability

When it comes to print quality and durability, sublimation printing is a top contender. The use of dye sublimation ink ensures vibrant and long-lasting colors on your garments. The inks are specially formulated to bond with the fabric, resulting in prints that do not crack or peel over time.

Additionally, sublimation allows for high-resolution designs with intricate details and smooth gradients. This makes it an ideal choice for capturing photographs or creating complex patterns.

Whether you’re looking for vibrant colors or detailed designs that will stand the test of time, sublimation printing offers exceptional print quality and durability.

Color vibrancy and range

As a sublimation maker, one of the key factors to consider when choosing between sublimation and DTG printing is the color vibrancy and range. Sublimation printing offers a wide range of vibrant colors that can be achieved on various fabrics.

The dye sublimation ink used in this process produces vivid and long-lasting colors with excellent color reproduction. With sublimation, you can achieve intricate designs and gradients with ease, making it ideal for detailed artwork or photographs.

On the other hand, DTG printing utilizes direct inkjet technology to spray ink onto garments. While it also allows for high-quality prints, the range of colors may not be as extensive as in sublimation printing.

DTG printers typically use CMYK ink cartridges, which limits the color gamut compared to sublimation’s special dye-based inks.

When aiming for vibrant and eye-catching designs, especially on polyester fabrics or blends favoring synthetic fibers, sublimation printing has an advantage over DTG printing due to its superior color vibrancy and wide-ranging options.

Production speed and cost

In terms of production speed, sublimation printing generally takes longer compared to DTG printing. This is because sublimation involves a two-step process: first, printing the design onto special paper, and then transferring it onto the garment using heat and pressure.

On the other hand, DTG printing is a direct method where inkjet technology sprays ink directly onto the fabric. This makes DTG much faster as there are no additional steps involved.

When it comes to cost considerations, sublimation may have higher upfront costs due to the need for specialized equipment such as heat presses and sublimation printers. Additionally, sublimation inks can be more expensive compared to DTG inks.

However, when producing larger quantities or intricate designs with multiple colors, sublimation can be more cost-effective as it allows for full-color printing without any limitations.

It’s important to keep in mind that both production speed and cost should be evaluated based on your specific needs and requirements. Assess factors like volume of orders, customization options needed, budget constraints, and long-term business goals before deciding which method suits you best.

Sublimation vs DTG: Which printing method to choose?

When it comes to choosing between sublimation and DTG printing, factors such as fabric suitability, print quality, production speed, and cost need to be considered. Understanding these differences can help you make an informed decision for your t-shirt printing needs.

So, let’s dive in and find out which method suits you best!

Factors to consider

When choosing between sublimation and DTG printing, there are several factors to consider that can help guide your decision. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Fabric Compatibility: Sublimation printing works best on polyester fabrics, while DTG printing is primarily used for cotton applications. Consider the type of fabric you’ll be printing on and choose the printing method accordingly.
  2. Print Quality and Durability: Sublimation printing offers vibrant colors and high-resolution prints that are long-lasting and fade resistant. On the other hand, DTG printing allows for more detailed designs and can produce photo-quality prints with a softer feel.
  3. Color Vibrancy and Range: With sublimation printing, you can achieve a wider color gamut and vibrant prints due to the dye being infused into the fabric. DTG printing may have limitations in terms of color vibrancy, especially when it comes to dark or black garments.
  4. Production Speed and Cost: DTG printing is generally faster than sublimation as it doesn’t require additional steps like heat pressing. However, sublimation offers bulk production capabilities, making it more cost-effective for larger quantities.
  5. Application and Customization Options: Sublimation allows for all-over printing on garments, including hard-to-reach areas such as seams and collars. DTG printing offers flexibility in customization options like individual names or numbers on each garment.
  6. Budget and Volume Requirements: Consider your budget constraints and the volume of orders you expect to receive. While sublimation printers may have higher upfront costs, they can be more cost-effective in the long run for larger production runs.
  7. Long-Term Business Goals: Think about your business’s future growth plans and target market. If you specialize in polyester apparel or promotional products, sublimation may be the better choice. If cotton garments are your focus or you prioritize customization options, then DTG may be more suitable.

Application and customization options

As a sublimation maker, I know that one of the key considerations when choosing between sublimation and DTG printing is the range of application and customization options each method offers.

With sublimation printing, you have the advantage of being able to print your designs onto the entire fabric, allowing for more creative freedom. Whether you’re looking to create vibrant all-over prints or intricate patterns on polyester garments, sublimation can bring your ideas to life.

On the other hand, if you mainly work with cotton fabrics or prefer a more traditional look for your designs, DTG printing might be a better fit. Keep in mind that while DTG can handle blended fabrics as well, colors may appear differently compared to sublimation.

Budget and volume requirements

When considering which printing method to choose, budget and volume requirements play a crucial role. For sublimation makers, it’s important to assess the cost-effectiveness of each option.

DTG printers tend to have a higher upfront cost compared to sublimation printers, but they offer more flexibility in terms of printing on different fabric types. On the other hand, sublimation printing requires special ink and paper, which can increase the overall cost per print.

When it comes to volume requirements, DTG is ideal for small batch orders or custom one-offs due to its quick setup time and minimal production time. Sublimation printing, on the other hand, is more suitable for larger quantity orders as it allows for faster production speeds once everything is set up.

Long-term business goals

When considering the long-term business goals as a sublimation maker, it’s essential to take into account factors that can impact your success and profitability. One key consideration is the versatility and range of printing options available with sublimation.

Unlike DTG printing, which is limited to cotton applications, sublimation allows you to print on a wide variety of polyester garments. This opens up opportunities for catering to different markets and expanding your customer base.

Additionally, sublimation offers vibrant colors and excellent print durability, ensuring that your designs stand out and last longer. By investing in a sublimation printer and mastering the technology, you can not only meet your immediate needs but also position yourself for long-term growth and diversification in the textile printing industry.


1. Is sublimation better than DTG?

As a sublimation maker, you may be wondering if sublimation is better than DTG printing. Well, the answer depends on your specific needs and preferences. Sublimation printing offers vibrant colors and excellent durability, especially on polyester garments.

It allows for full-color designs that cover the entire fabric. On the other hand, DTG printing works great on cotton fabrics and provides detailed prints with high resolution.

When it comes to versatility, sublimation takes the lead as it can be used on various materials such as ceramics and metal surfaces in addition to textiles. However, keep in mind that sublimation is limited to polyester or polymer-coated items.

Unlike traditional screen printing methods, both DTG and sublimation offer quicker turnaround times for small or custom orders since they are digital processes that eliminate the need for setup time.

2. What lasts longer sublimation or DTG?

In terms of longevity, sublimation printing tends to outlast DTG (Direct-to-Garment) printing. Sublimation uses a special type of ink called dye sublimation ink, which undergoes a chemical process that permanently binds the ink to the fabric fibers.

This means that the design becomes part of the garment itself and will not fade or crack over time. On the other hand, DTG prints may fade with repeated washings or exposure to sunlight.

While both methods can produce high-quality prints initially, sublimation offers greater durability in the long run.

It’s important to note that proper care and maintenance play a role in determining the lifespan of printed garments regardless of the printing method used. Following recommended washing instructions and avoiding harsh detergents or bleach can help extend their longevity even further.

3. Can both sublimation and DTG be used on all types of fabrics?

Sublimation works best on polyester-based fabrics as it requires a specific type of material that can absorb the dye through heat transfer. On the other hand,

DTG can be used on a wider range of fabrics including cotton blends as long as they have been pre-treated with a suitable coating to ensure proper ink absorption.


In conclusion, when it comes to choosing between sublimation printing and DTG printing, there are several factors to consider. Sublimation printing offers vibrant colors and durability on polyester fabrics, while DTG is ideal for cotton applications.

The decision ultimately depends on your specific needs, budget, and long-term goals. Both methods have their own unique benefits and considerations, so be sure to weigh them carefully before making a choice.

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