Tag Archives: T-Shirt Printing

How to Calculate Pricing on Your DTG Print Orders

The pricing structure at IR-Tees is designed to be accessible to anyone; all of our clients should have the freedom to quote orders to their own clients, without worrying about contacting us for current price information.  By evaluating what you would like to order, you can quickly and easily figure out your cost on any order by following a set of simple instructions.  When calculating pricing on any DTG orders, there are a number of factors that must be considered:

  • The style and type of product that is to be printed – we offer a number of product options from a number of manufacturers, and each one will be priced differently.
  • The color of the product that is to be printed will help determine whether we use the Light Garment DTG price list or the Dark Garment DTG price list.
  • The total quantity ordered for each design will determine which level discount will be applied from the appropriate price list.
  • The number of print locations, as well as the size of each print location will affect the total cost.
  • If any of the print locations cross over seams, zippers, collars, etc. (“Specialty Prints”)


Before determining a price for your order, we have to know which garment you intend to print on – we have a number of local suppliers who offer a wide range of manufacturers and styles to choose from.  While we cannot list every product we have access to, we do try to keep a list of our most popular items, along with individual unit pricing.  Keep in mind that our local supplier can change prices at any time without notice, so we must always verify pricing before accepting new orders – we try to update our numbers as often as possible, but they will not always be completely up to date.  Follow the link below to check recent pricing for many of our popular items: Blank Garment Pricing   2. DETERMINE WHETHER THE GARMENT IS CONSIDERED LIGHT OR DARK

While seemingly straightforward, there are certain factors that can affect whether or not an image is printed as a “light” or a “dark”.  First, we must determine what is considered a “dark” garment; these are typically any garments which have a white ink layer beneath or in combination with the CMYK layer.  Since the water-based CMYK inks used for DTG printing are translucent by nature (allowing them to mix and combine into the myriad of colors you see on the printed garment), they appear most vibrant against a solid white background.  This can be an actual white colored garment, or a layer of white ink printed onto a dark garment to allow the CMYK inks to appear at their brightest.  It takes very little background color to affect the look of the CMYK layer (generally causing it to look darker and less visible, until it eventually disappears against colors such as black or dark brown), so any shirts colors aside from white will cause the printed image to look considerably different – for best results, we recommend printing a white under base layer on all other colors. The exception to this general rule of thumb is any time you are printing dark colored ink against a light garment background; for instance, printing black ink onto a kelly green shirt would not require a white ink under base, and would therefore be considered a “light” garment print when calculating the price (regardless of the fact that the garment itself is a darker color).  If the ink color itself is darker than the garment color, you would not necessarily need a white ink under base and you can save some money by omitting it.  However, we must recommend that you evaluate both methods of printing, as it becomes a very subjective matter when determining whether or not to use white ink.  Once you decide which method you want to utilize, check out our DTG print prices for both light and dark garments on the following page: DTG Print Prices At IR-Tees, we offer a variety of ways for you to place your orders – you can e-mail a representative directly with order details, bring them to us in person, call us over the phone or log into your account and build the order in our innovative Product Lab.  By ordering online, you will receive our lowest print prices (which are reflected on the DTG price list page, linked above) – otherwise, your pricing would be determined by the “When ordered through representative” grid.


The more times we have to pre-treat, heat press, load, print and cure a print location on a garment, the longer it takes to manufacture and the greater the ink cost, which of course means an increased cost to the end user.  One of the easiest ways to save money on orders is by limiting the overall number of print locations, since this is where the cost often adds up the most; although it might seem like a great idea to add a small print on the sleeve to add some style, keep in mind it could increase the overall cost of each garment by up to several dollars (depending on other factors) – try combining that text with the main print on the garment, and you could easily lower your bottom line.  Always remember that it is the responsibility of the client to tailor their order to fit their budget and expectations!


The quantity of each order will typically affect how much you will be charged for each individual print location.  Once you know which price grid to look at (“through a rep” or “online”, plus dark or light garment printing) you should then reference the appropriate column in that particular grid to determine your printing cost for a “standard” sized print, an additional “small” sized print or an additional “standard” sized print; although we have no minimum orders for DTG printing, the prices for each print location will reduce slightly as you increase the volume of your order.   Add up the total cost(s) for each print location, and combine this with the cost of the blank garment you selected earlier – we’re almost done!


 Aside from the number of print locations on a garment, the size of each individual print location is also an important factor; the larger the print, the longer it will take to manufacture and the more ink it will consume.  Therefore, larger images will obviously cost more to print!  Our pricing structure often refers to “standard size prints” – these are any prints that exist within a 144 square inch area (measured from the widest points of the image, as well as the tallest points of the image), and are often approximately 10.5″ x 12″ in size.  ”Small” print locations are considered anything less than 16 inches square (or approximately 4″ x 4″) – keep in mind we offer a discounted price on “small” print locations only when they are in addition to a primary print location; the first print location on any garment is priced as a “standard” sized print, regardless of size.  There are three types of print locations on each of the price grids:

  • 1st Standard Print – 10.5x 12 - includes any primary print location, up to 10.5″ x 12″
  • Additional Print – up to 4 x 4
  • Additional Print – Standard - often we provide a small price break for additional, “standard” size print locations (by the time you get up to larger quantity orders, the price for a primary print location is about the same as an additional print location)

Each price grid assumes your print location is a standard size, however we have the ability to print up to 17″ x 42″ – if you scroll toward the bottom of the DTG Print Costs page, you will see an additional price grid labelled “Additional Printing Services / Options”, which details the cost adjustment for larger sized prints (add these costs to the base print cost for each up-sized location).  For images larger than 15″ x 20″, please contact us directly for a quote.


Most clients choose to have their print locations placed on the front center chest, or perhaps centered on the back; some like to add a small left chest print, while others feel as though the right chest area is where the print should be.  Most print locations will fall under the normal price guidelines, but there are a few exceptions – any print locations that warrant an additional cost is considered a “specialty print”, and some examples of these are listed below:

  • Any prints that cross over seams of a garment
  • Any prints that cross over a zipper (such as the front of a zippered hoodie)
  • Any prints that cross over the collar of a garment
  • Any prints that require special setup and considerations, thereby slowing down production and increasing manufacturing costs
The process of loading a garment on to the platen (shirt board) should be a quick and easy transition while the machine is running in the background; when a client requests that we print across seams, zippers, etc, it requires a great deal of special setup and extra care to ensure that the raised portions of the garments are not hit by the fast-moving print head, which could potentially cause hundreds of dollars in damage to our equipment.  In order to make this viable, we construct special shirt boards to raise the printable areas of the garment, while allowing seams and whatnot to sit harmlessly below the level of the print head; while we certainly don’t mind going the extra mile, understand that there will be additional charges for any “specialty prints”, which you can read about under “Additional Print Services / Options” on the DTG Print Costs page.

In addition to the standard printing services, we also offer a wide range of additional services to help you grow your business.  For instance, we offer a wide range of Fulfillment Services including blind drop-shipping and more, which (if selected) could affect the final cost of your order; of course, we also offer the option for you to pick up the printed garments to be shipped by your own staff, if you prefer.  Examples of some of the additional services available include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Blind Drop-Shipping and Fulfillment Services (including custom flyer inserts, packaging options and more)
  • Custom Relabeling / Tag Printing
  • Light Garment Pretreat Option for Brighter Colors
  • Post-Process Garment Steaming to Reduce Pretreat Residue
  • Post-Process “Chemical Free” Wash

If you have a DTG order that doesn’t quite fit within these parameters (we don’t run into those situations very often), please let us know and we would be happy to put together a custom quote for you!  Contact Us today to find out how we can help, or log in to your account through our innovative online Product Lab to start designing your products now!

What is DTG Printing, and Why is it So Awesome?

The days of simplifying your artwork to meet your budget are over!  No longer do the general masses have to settle for “dumbed down” versions of their incredibly crafted designs, and no longer do they need to order a hundred shirts (or more) to be taken seriously!  DTG printing arrived on the scene in its infant stages over 6 years ago, and has spent the last several years being tweaked, prodded and modified until it was finally manifested in a form that offered top level competitive quality, excellent durability and reliable manufacturing practices.

If you thought you knew all about DTG printing, check again!  There have been plenty of advances and improvements that have made the process not only viable, but also highly sought after by major clothing brands and online retailers all across the globe.

DTG printing stands for “Direct To Garment” printing, which refers to the process of jetting water based ink directly onto the surface of a printable substrate, rather than printing a transfer which would then be heat pressed onto the substrate.  DTG printing equipment is similar in many ways to the type of desktop ink jet printers which can be found in most homes and offices; utilizing a small selection on ink colors (typically Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black and White), the printer is able to dynamically mix the process inks “on the fly” as it prints, recreating a myriad of colors and effects as it goes!

The printers are generally much larger than most home or office printing systems, and the drive mechanism has been modified to feed blank t-shirts rather than paper or other flat substrates.  By eliminating the need for expensive and time consuming screen setup, as well as the mess and the costs that go along with the traditional screen printing process used by most print shops, we are able to use the process of DTG printing to create beautiful, full color designs with almost no setup, allowing us to offer full color custom garment printing with NO MINIMUM ORDERS and NO SETUP FEES!  Essentially, if you can create it on the computer, we can reproduce it on a t-shirt.

When compared to traditional decoration techniques, such as screen printing, the quality of a DTG printed garment is unrivaled – the print details, gradients and print accuracy will beat out almost any other garment decoration technique available (sublimation is another “digitally printed” option which offers a fairly competitive option for decorating garments with beautiful full color designs, however sublimation is limited to polyester garments and there is no white ink, meaning it can only be used on white or light colored garments – it cannot really compete with DTG printing when dark garments or 100% cotton is concerned).


The process of DTG printing involves several steps, which can be loosely summed up as follows:

    Before any ink can actually be printed on the garment, the fabric must be prepared with a liquid pre-treatment chemical, designed to create a bond between the ink and the garment itself.  Without this pre-treatment fluid, the ink would simply absorb into the porous cotton material and appear very poorly (if at all).  Pre-treatment is absolutely required for any dark garment printing (any time white ink is involved, either as an under base or a highlight layer), although it is entirely optional when printing on light colored garments.  If pre-treatment fluid is applied to the light garment prior to printing, the ink will remain on top of the fabric (rather than soaking in) and will appear more vibrant, while providing superior wash-fastness over the life of the garment.  If no pre-treatment is used on light colored garments, the print will still look good but you will notice that it simply doesn’t “POP” like it would have with the pre-treatment.  The pre-treatment is applied either manually or via an automated pre-treatment unit, depending on the situation – after the spray is applied, the garment is then brushed with a fine Wooster brush to press the fibers down (reducing the effects of fibrillation, especially on non-ringspun garments) and then heat pressed to seal the pre-treatment to the garment – once this is completed, the garment is ready for printing!
  2. PREPARING THE ARTWORK FOR PRINTING: Although we can certainly load up any artwork file and press the print button, it is important to understand that proper artwork preparation is vital to the successful recreation of complex DTG prints – there is no magic involved in the printing process that will turn “adequate” artwork into “amazing” artwork…. The better the initial artwork file is in terms of quality, color saturation and vibrancy, the better the final printed t-shirt is going to look.  You can read more about artwork prep and file format options by visiting our Artwork Information page.
  3. LOADING THE GARMENT ON THE DTG PRINTER: While this may seem like one of the easiest steps, it can actually become quite tricky when trying to reproduce complex specialty prints that cross over seams or collars, as well as when trying to print odd shaped or odd sized garments (such as onesies, or printing on sleeves and whatnot).  We use a series of “loading boards” called Platens to keep the garments pulled flat and smooth for the printing process, and we will often set up custom spacers to allow us to print on a variety of alternative substrates and print locations.
    Once everything is prepped and ready to go, we simply load up the artwork file in the specialized RIP software we use (RIP stands for Raster Image Processor, by the way) and press the print button!  The printer will travel the entire length of the garment print area, spraying ink as it goes – when it is done we are left with an incredibly detailed, vibrant print that will impress even the toughest critics.  For dark colored garments, the machine will first print a full pass of white ink (as an under base to the colors), then it will return for a second pass that will complete the image with the color layer.
  5. CURE THE INK: Since water based inks remain “water soluble” until they are permanently heat-set, it is important to press the garments after printing to ensure that the design does not come off in the wash!  For light garments, this generally involves direct exposure to high pressure and heat for around 90 seconds, while dark garments get the same treatment for at least 180 seconds; it is important to select garments for printing that are able to withstand the arduous manufacturing conditions involved with DTG printing water based inks.

While this may seem like a lot of steps, most people would be blown away to find out everything that goes into the process of traditional screen printing – relatively speaking, DTG printing involves far fewer steps.  In addition to taking less time for the overall setup / print cycle when compared to traditional decoration methods, DTG printing also involves far fewer chemicals and consumables, none of which contain the level of harsh and abrasive chemicals found in many screen printing products.

DTG printing is perfect for short run or full color printing – with a little creativity, you can recreate some incredible effects that will leave most screen printers in the dust, without breaking the bank in the process!  Contact us today to find out what we can do for you, or browse our website for even more information before you get started.


Fine Detail even with Gradient Screens.

Selecting the Proper Garments for DTG Printing

Aside from the quality of the original artwork file, the most critical factor in achieving top quality products with DTG printing is the actual garment that is being printed on.  Variables such as cotton content, weight, knit, texture, unique post processing chemical treatments and much more can ultimately effect the results we see on DTG printing, so it is important to select garments that are best suited to this unique method of decoration.


  • Garments with a high cotton content print best - try to avoid 50/50 cotton / polyester blends, as the water based inks used for DTG printing do not adhere well to polyester.  Additionally, the dyes used to color polyester garments tend to “migrate” into the printed image during the curing stage, causing the image quality to be negatively effected.  100% cotton garments are going to provide the best results, but if you cannot find a suitable 100% cotton option (which is often the case when printing on fleece hoodies) then look for the next best thing, which is typically 80% cotton / 20% polyester.
  • Ring spun cotton prints better than standard cotton - the better (smoother) the print surface, the better the end results will be; this is typically true of any type of printing method.  Even with your desktop printer at home, you will achieve varying results when printing on standard paper, when compared to the same print on high quality glossy photo paper; the simple truth is that a better printing surface will almost always yield a better print.  The softer, finer weave of the ring spun cotton provides a more ideal printing surface for the DTG printer inks, creating a more stunning print that will hold better on the garment during repeated wash cycles.  Whenever possible, it is recommended to use ring spun or combed ring spun garments for most DTG printing applications.
  • Ribbed texture / patterns can ruin a DTG print - the nature of ribbed fabrics allows for greater stretchability due to the inherent weave of the cloth; for most purposes, this is ideal and does not pose any sort of problem.  For DTG printing, on the other hard, this can cause the printed image to break apart at the vertical “channels” that are present in the fabric – this effect cannot be controlled so it is important to test and verify ANY ribbed garments before offering them to your clients.  It is your responsibility to select garments that meet your unique expectations and requirements.  Since many women’s style garments are naturally ribbed, it is especially important to ensure proper selection of the women’s products; if you cannot find a suitable solution from the list of products that we offer, we invite you to bring your own preferred brand for us to print on, and you will only be charged for the actual decoration of the garments.
We tend to select brands and garment styles that are highly compatible with the DTG process – not only do we look for garments that print and wash well, but we must also ensure that our products can withstand the intense heat and pressure that our garments are exposed to during the printing and curing process.  Once we have found garments that we like, we try to evaluate how consistent they are between batches to even further refine our selection of preferred blank garments (we have found that the same brand tee produced at a different factory location can sometimes yield different levels of print quality and overall consistency).
The Blank Products page of our website provides a searchable list of items that we are able to provide for our customers; we will be continuing to add and amend this list as we go, and we will strive to update the product prices on a regular basis (please keep in mind that we cannot always keep up with the ever changing prices at our suppliers, so the prices listed on our website may sometimes change without notice).  We will also be adding an overall rating system to show our clients which products work well with DTG printing, and which ones work well with sublimation or screen printing – check back often for updates, including the forthcoming product images for each of the garments in our list.

Welcome to the NEW IR-Tees website!

In our tireless effort to provide you the very best in service, product quality and options, we have once again spent countless hours revamping our website to make it easier and more powerful for you, our awesome clients!!  We will continue to add new articles and tips in the coming days and weeks, and we will offer additional information for you to make the entire process easier for everyone.