Same day screen printing?

DTG is the solution if you want tee shirts fast.

DTG solves the problem on short delivery time. At Northwest Apparel we invested in two state of the art Kornit digital printers. The reason we did this is that our customers are asking for faster delivery on their orders.

Fast and quick delivery is now becoming the norm.

When we first started Northwest Embroidery two weeks delivery was fantastic. We have now changed our name to Northwest Custom apparel and our delivery time can be as little as 6 hours. Speeding up our delivery options meant we had to change our name and rebrand the company. We are now Northwest Custom Apparel.

Millennials demand service

Doing business in a millennial environment means we have to meet the demand.  The internet doesn’t allow customers to wait two weeks they need it now.

Northwest Custom has invested in two state of the art Kornit digital printers. These printers are state of the art. We use water based inks which allow us to deliver shirts that are soft to the touch.  The old method of screen printing is actually environmentally unacceptable. The new consumer protection laws and regulations prohibit selling shirts with carcinogenic inks to children younger than 12 years old.

Because we specialize in Direct to Garment printing we meet all the environmental regulations. Our shirts are safe for the youth market.

When it comes to delivery we can offer same day printing. This is because if we have camera ready art work with all images 300 dpi or better we are ready to print.

We had a customer come in yesterday who was entertaining a group from Switzerland and wanted to give them a memento of their visit. He showed up at our office panicking because he forgot to put the tees in his things to do list. The Swiss Sportmen’s Club of Tacoma was so happy we could accept this order.

Fortunately we had excellent art work on file and we were able to go in our warehouse pull from our inventory and print the multicolor shirts in less than four hours. Because of our DTG printers we were able to create a raving fan who will spread the word about Northwest Customs customer focused service.DSC02717

Being located in Milton Washington we are able to service the greater Seattle area with our fantastic service.

DTG is better than Screen Print

The question is now is what is better Direct to Garment printing or Screen Print printing.

Direct to Garment often referred to as DTG printing is new and entering the production shops of decorators around the world. The reason for this evolution is that companies want a system which is easy to learn, operate and is environmentally friendly.

Most DTG systems are a four step process.

The first step is to pre-treat the garment with a pretreatment machine to apply the pretreatment solution to the garment.

Then setting the pretreatment with a heat press machine.

Step 3 print the garment

Step 4 back to the clam shell heat press.

This complicated process takes at least 10 minutes per item.
The heat and pressure is done with a clam shell heat press.
Decosource has a totally different and efficient process operating the Kornit DTG printer to print their shirts. The Kornit system eliminates the manual pretreatment process.
The system Decosource uses is a two step process.

Step 1 is load the garment on the printer platen, push the start button and


The pre-treatment is self contained in the Kornit printer and speeds up production by eliminating the pre-treat step of all other machines on the market.
Step 2 The final step is to remove the garment from the Kornit printer run through the dryer and then fold and finish.
The positive features of DGT printing is the finished product. The end result is a garment with a soft feel. The plastisol ink used in screen printing leaves a hard finish which is annoying to women. The plastisol ink also has carcinogenic compounds which have proved harmful to humans. This problem will eventually be addressed and screen print shops will start to come in compliance with the consumer protection laws.
Another positive feature of DTG printing is set up time. All you have to do is download your artwork click the green button and print. This process will print and infinite number of colors.

Screen printing we know takes a separate screen for each color. This eliminates the ability to print small orders with no screen set up and clean up.3966
To summarize DTG is faster, time efficient, cleaner, exact design matching and easy to use.

DTG printing is much better than Screen Printing.

DTG is much better than screen printing

The answer is send it to Decosource.  Decosource has two state of the art Kornit printers which are groomed for small order production. With Kornit all we ask of our customer is to bring us good art. We prefer EPS to make our life easier.

Lets think about the time of DTG vs a screen print order with 6 colors. One screen is necessary for each color and one extra screen for the white under base. Inks have to be mixed to meet the color requirements. Then comes the press check and we hope everything is done correctly. If not we go back to the drawing board.Jim Oktoberfest

Assume we did a decent job printing the 6 colors.(actually 7 because we have to print a white undercoat.

No mess with DTG

Now the clean up begins. Add another hour or two to the order to clean up the mess.

The order was for 6 colors and a lot of printers are not equipped to print 6 colors assuming the seventh color is white undercoat.

It’s coming and we have to aware that traditional plastisol inks contain carcinogenic Studies have been done which show these inks are harmful to children under the age of 12 years. The consumer protection act even states these chemicals are harmful.

Now let’s examine direct to garment printing.  This is commonly referred to as DTG printing.

DTG process

The process for DTG printing is have good art work. Good art work means easy set up. The computer is going to do everything.

Good art work means it’s time to point and click. All that is necessary now is to load the computer which drives the Direct to Garment printer. Time taken is less than 30 minutes.

Printing is a snap. The computer tells the printer what to print and it is as easy as one, two, three.

Erik Mickelson
Erik Mickelson showing off the multicolor design.

Loading printer is fast and saves a tremendous amount of labor. DTG set up compared to traditional screen printing is a breeze. (actually Kornit has a printer called the Breeze)

Good artist is all you need

To conclude all you need for DTG work is a good artist. Their productivity will increase when doing DTG art because there are not screens to set up. Check out the colors on this shirt. The setup was $40.00 for everything.

Deco Source History

  • Northwest Embroidery was the first commercial embroidery company in the Pacific Northwest. We opened our doors in Oct 1977. We are celebrating our 40th anniversary.
  • During those days we supported some major companies such as Nike, Eddie Bauer, Britannia jeans, REI, and Columbia to name a few. We had the market locked because we were the only company of size who could do embroidery.
  • Life was good until our government lowered the duty on imported decorated garments. The duty used to be around 28% on apparel with any decoration. Northwest at the time was able to do the embroidery for less than the 28% duty. But, our government lowered the duty with some nudging from some of the major apparel players at that time.
    With the duties lowered the manufacturing slowly started to shift to the far west. Hong Kong and Taiwan were the first big players to have factories and solicit this manufacturing business. It was a slam dunk the selling price would remain strong in the US and the cost of goods manufactured would go down. It takes a fool not to realize what was happening.
  • Seattle at one time was the leading manufacturing center for outerwear in the United States. Rainier Valley was a cluster of contract sewers who fed the retail industry. Northwest Embroidery was able to take advantage of this because of the fact that embroidered logos enhanced the perceived value of the finished
    The market during this period (1977-1985) was strong for everyone. But the majors wanted more bang for their buck. They started to turn to the Far East or far west if you are in Seattle to out source their manufacturing.
    Cascade Manufacturing just down the street from us was a prime contractor for Columbia and LL Bean. They had over 600 sewers in Puyallup and Seattle. This was no small operation. Today the property hosts a large apartment complex.
  • Northwest Embroidery saw the handwriting on the wall and turned outward to becoming a retailer selling logo merchandise direct to the end user. This proved to be even better than trying to hustle orders from the majors. Companies like San Mar, JM Products, Winkler Northwest were born. These companies were actually distributors who imported directly and marketed to the decorated apparel industry
  • .
    The decorated apparel industry was starting to take off in 1980. Logo apparel was just getting popular. A cottage industry was growing selling decorated apparel.
  • The industry has changed astronomically since 1977. In 1985 we bought our first fax machine and for $3.57 a page we could throw away our telex machine and communicate with the far west without having to send DHL packets. Our orders really flowed smoothly.
  • After the fax machine came the internet and the whole world opened up.
    Some of the new innovations which are coming to market are Digital to Garment printers which print directly from a computer to a garment.


  • There is no setup involved and the quantities can be as little as one. This is a labor killer which addresses the must have now generation.
    This little brief can give you an overview of who Deco Source is and how we started out as a small embroidery company who is the leader in the decorated apparel in the Pacific Northwest.

Embroidering on leather

Leather can be somewhat tricky to embroider on. It always presents a challenge but to a brave embroiderer it can be done.

The level of difficulty always depends on the grade of the leather. Heavy leather is always a problem. At Decosource we have honed our skills and at times will accept leather for embellishment on a cost vs worth basis. We will not do one jacket because of the potential loss.

Easy to work with

Natural leather is very easy to work with because it does have a soft hand. The hand of the leather depends on the tanning process. There is oak-tanning, bark-tanning or vegetable tanning. This type of tanning involves the use of tannic acid. This is where we get the term “tanning.”

Another type of tanning is referred to as chrome-tanned. Chrome tanned leathers are soft to the touch and easy to work with.

One important item to consider is the various types of leather which include Cowhide (one side is suede and the other is smooth)

Split cowhide results from the hide actually being split in the finishing process and both sides of the leather are suede. Stay away from this type of leather

Deerskin is the favorite of all hunters. Sportsmen love to get a jacket made out of their trophy and embellished with a custom logo. This is a great background for embroidery.


Leather varies in thickness. It is best to stay away from thick leather unless you want to become a specialist. The cowboy boot manufacturers will give you all the work you can handle. Jim Yates of Yates Embroidery made a good living doing single color boot designs.

Its best to use a backing with leather work. At Decosource we found that the backing will actually protect your hooks form debris getting clogged in your machine. Some companies even use newspaper just to give the leather some stability. You can also use wax paper or a light weight iron backing.

Use a thick backing for soft leathers so it will hold the stitches. Thick leather you can use anything.

You should always use a sharp needle for soft leather and a ball point for thick  leather. Ball points will always leave a smooth finish.


robison-anton-polyesterThe best thread is a 40 weight with a loose density in the design. You must give your needle penetrations some space. This can be done in the digitizing.

When programming us a longer stitch and a loosed density. The objective is to not stitch so close that you  punch a hole in the substrate.

Is summary experiment with a scrap piece of leather before taking the big step.

Small order Screen Printing

Small order printing

Small order screen printing is a market most screen printers will not undertake. The problem with small orders is the preparation, set up involved and clean up.


Small order challenge

Decosource has accepted this challenge by investing in two Kornit direct to garment printers. We made the decision to go this route because of the following comparisons we make before our purchase.

Set up time

For example setting up a 4 color project takes time. The art has to be completed; the screens have to be made. One screen is necessary for each color and one extra screen for the white under base. Inks have to be mixed to meet the color requirements. A press check is necessary first before the printing can start. At this point in the process the design is tweaked to make sure all colors are correct.
Once the printing is completed it is clean up time. All the screens have to be washed and made ready for the next job.

Multi color designs

Another major problem with screen printing if there are a lot of colors in the design it is might take more screens than the screen printer has in inventory. The majority of screen printers have carousals that have less than six color stations. Multi color jobs at times are lost.
Another draw down for screen printing is that the inks do contain carcinogens. There have been studies done which indicate these inks are harmful to children under the age of 12 years.

Compare DTG to Screen Print

Now let’s take a look at direct to garment printing. This is commonly referred to as DTG printing.
The process for DTG printing is first prepare good art work. This can be done and reviewed on your computer screen. Tweaking is easy using adobe illustrator or photo shop.

Ridgeline Girl's Basketball with Coach Daniel J. Helms
The ‘s Basketball Team went undefeated for the 2015-2016 Season. Coach Daniel Helms from Yelm lead the way

When art is approved it is time to point and click. All that is necessary is to click and load in the computer which drives the Direct to Garment printer.
Printing is very simple. All the hard work is done in the art department. The DTG printer can print as many colors as needed. Clean up when done is just a wipe down of the platen.

Load design in minutes

Orders can be set up and loaded in minutes which save a tremendous amount of labor. When you compare the set up for a screen print order to a DTG order it is a no brainer. The result is more money to invest in a good artist.

Purchase a Kornit

To summarize when using a DTG printer hire a good artist. Invest in a name brand printer (Kornit) and you are on your way to having a successful business.

Direct to garment sales tips

Selling Direct to Garment is easy

Selling Direct to Garment printing is so much easier than selling custom screen print apparel. The reason is that you are not limited by detail and colors. Screen printing is difficult to do if there are more than six colors in the design.23298-rollie-tavern-swGet your customers to switch

Getting your customers to switch from screen printing to digital printing can be real easy once you explain the benefits of digital printing. Rollies Tavern is a good example of a multi color design

The most important benefit is that the ink used in digital printing is not toxic. There is no cancer carrying cacogenic compounds in the ink used for digital printing. Digital apparel printing uses water based ink which is chemical free.

Digital is a clean environment

Digital print shops are clean and the air is chemical free. The work environment is pleasant.

Soft hand

Digital ink produces a softer hand or touch. Screen print ink is hard and rough to the touch. The screen print ink is not absorbed by the garment and it lies on top of the material giving a harsh feel to the garment. Women often complain of rubbing next to the skin with a screen printed garment. You will never get this with digital inks.

Art work is easier to reproduce using digital printing. There is no limit to the amount of colors you can use when going digital. Screen printing uses a spot color technique. Each color has to be printed separately. It is a slow and tedious effort to bring a screen print design to life. With digital no separations are necessary it is just scan and print.


Rush delivery

Digital set up takes less time which allows for rush orders to be done in a short span of time. Digital orders can be done in as little as one hour when necessary. We have customers bring us camera ready art and we can be printing right away.

Decosource specializes in fast turn around and small orders. We can also do fill ins as small as one piece. Try this with screen printing especially multi color jobs.

DTG pre treating in one cycle

Pre treating for digital to garment printing

There are several pre treating systems available for direct to garment printing. All work but not all are efficient. Some pretreat systems take as long as three minutes which is time spent even before the garment is run through the printer.

The basic process for Digital Printing using an inexpensive printing generally involves pre treating the garment in a solution to make the ink adhere to the garment.  There are different ways to apply the pre treatment. The simplest is a Wagner hand sprayer and applying the pretreatment solution. After giving the garment a good spray the next step is to dry tine solution by using a clam shell heat press to set the pretreatment solution.

This video tells it all.

Next step is to print the garment. This generally takes 3-5 minutes in the printer.  When done printing it is back to the clam shell heat press to set the ink and complete the cycle. Time in the clam shell 45 seconds. This completes the cycle of directly printing to the garment.

Decosource uses a completely different system where we combine all the above steps into one cycle.

The first step is what we call click and print. The design is entered into our DTG printer computer then we press the button to pre treat and print in one cycle.

All our pre treating is done in one cycle on our Kornit printers. The Kornit has a patented pre treat process which allows for 100% increase in productivity.  No Wagner sprayers or pretreatment tunnel.  The Kornit has a wet on wet system which allows the application of pre treatment and the actual printing in one cycle. Once the cycle is complete the garment is run through a dryer and the cycle is complete. Total time printing and pre treating is less than three minutes. Having a efficient dryer we can do up to 30 dark shirts and 60 white shirts per hour.

St. Patrick's Day Irish Pub Shirt Customized with your last name created by NW Custom Apparel. This t-shirt is 100% cotton.

To sum it up if you want speed use a printer which does the pre treatment and printing in one cycle.

DTG printing leads the way

Digital to Garment printing

Digital to Garment printing is coming to the market faster than expected. It is a whole new process for decorating apparel. The ease of entry is unreal. All the training necessary is to learn how to point and click. The design shows up on a computer screen and it is good to print.

DTG is superior

DTG is actually superior to screen printing for small orders. It still is cost effective for large orders to be done by the traditional screen printing method. Anything less than 48 pieces is a slam dunk for DTG printing.

Fast set up

The advantage of digital to garment is the set up. If good vector art is available the set up can take 30 minutes or less. If this is a re-order the time to click and go is less than a minute. check out our you tube

The more colors the better for DTG work. Comparing a six color design to screen print vs. DTG the set up for screen printing can take at least 3 hours or more. Burning a screen for each color is not economical for small orders because it will drive the cost through the roof.

Clean up time

Clean up time for digital to garment is nil. Clean up time for screen printing is about10 minutes each screen or color. A six color print will take an hour to clean up. There is essentially no clean up for DTG. It’s move on to the next order and push the print button.

Set up cost

The cost for set up is always less compared to a multi-color screen print. It is simply from the computer screen to the printer. Average cost which is one time is usually $40.00 often referred to a rip charge. There is never a charge for re-order setup. 19948-harley-ride-for-autism-sw

Small multi-color orders are best addressed by DTG printing. When time is the relevant factor the order can be in before 10 and delivered by 5 the same day.  Unreal.