Technology Comparisons


Which Printer Is Right for Me?

Digital apparel printing is one of several garment decoration technologies. There are several techniques that can make use of digital images to create an impression. (See What is DTG? for more info on garment decoration technologies.)

The Technology Comparison chart below shows the relative strengths and weaknesses of various “flat” finish garment decoration methods. Embroidery represents a separate use case. There is presently no way around the labor-intensive processes to create a sample or produce finished garments, but the raised finished hand is something that is very desirable.

Direct to garment is a wonderful natural complement for any garment decoration business precisely because it enables on-demand sampling, flat or “zero” hand, and full color digital impressions without any manual separations.

Technology Comparison


Direct To Garment Printing

Dye Sublimation

Thermal Transfer

Screen Printing

Basic Technology

Inkjet, direct on garment

Print images on a release paper, then transfer image to garment by heat press

Transfer preprinted images to garment by heat press

Screen printing directly on garment


Full digital color

Full digital color

Color separations

Color separations. 4-color simulated process approximates digital.

Technology History

10 years

50+ years

50+ years

100+ years

Supported substrates

100% cotton, high cotton blends, polyester, canvas, hemp, linen

100% white polyester

Synthetic, poly blends

Any fabric type

White ink supported (for impressions on dark or black shirts)



Not applicable


Ink and Environmental Concerns

Water-based pigment ink is environmentally friendly and non-toxic. No fumes.

Typically solvent-based ink. VOC and environmental concerns.

Ink is already on transfer paper.

Commonly plastisol ink with environmental concerns. Produces VOC and waste water problems. Water-based inks available but more costly. 

Printed Garment’s Tactile Feel

Soft and natural cotton feeling, depending on ink quality.

Natural feeling

Depends on the character of transfer paper used

Thick hardened plastisol. “Tarp” feeling.

Profitability of short runs




Not feasible, especially for multiple colors. Runs below 25 prints are cost prohibitive.

Capital Equipment Investment

$10,000 – $50,000

$2,000 — $10,000

$2,000 — $5,000

$5,000 — $250,000

Ideal owner profile

Professional commercial system, small scale commercial, hobbyist

Hobbyist or small scale commercial

Hobbyist or small scale commercial

Professional Commercial System

Shop footprint

50-100 sq.ft.

50-100 sq.ft.

50 sq.ft. (heat press only)

250 sq.ft. and up

Set-up time

2-5 minutes

2-5 minutes


2-4 hours, depending on many variables


Printer Model Comparison Matrix

Printer Model


mPower™ mP5i

mPower™ mP10i

White ink capability

Closed-loop ink delivery

Brilliant CMYK printing

Number of prints to ROI
(Typical retail pricing of $13-20 per shirt)




Hourly auto-maintenance


White ink recirculation


Automatic platen adjustment


Included RIP software

EK Print Studio, 3rd Party



Available integrated design interface


Spark for AnaJet

Spark for AnaJet

Speed - White Shirt
(Using a 12" x 10" color graphic)

60 seconds

40 seconds

20 seconds

Speed - Black Shirt
(Using a 12" x 10" color graphic)

2:40 minutes

1:30 minutes

:45 seconds

White shirt prints per hour
(Using a 12" x 10" color graphic)




Prints per day
(Using a 12" x 10" color graphic)




Supports METALfoil, EXTENDEDmedia, ARTprints applications

Platen size

12.5″ x 16″ – 200″ sq.

14″ x 18″ – 252″ sq.

14″ x 18″ – 252″ sq.

Ink channels and nozzles

8 channels, 1440 nozzles

6 channels, 1152 nozzles

12 channels, 2304 nozzles


80 lbs.

180 lbs.

180 lbs.


Which Printer Is Right for My Business?

Answer the following questions to help you determine which printer model makes the most sense for your business requirements. 

Printer Model


mPower™ mP5i, mP10i

I need to produce ______ prints every week for my business.

one to several hundred

one to a few thousand

My typical order amount is _____.

one to fifty pieces

one to several hundred pieces

My business plan is to ______.

stay small and stable

grow quickly

Portability: I need a printer that I can _______.

carry easily from site to site every weekend, OR leave in the shop

set up permanently in my shop

I need a digital apparel printer with a learning curve that is:

relatively fast

very fast

I am ready to run full maintenance on my printer _______.
(All DTG printers require minimum regular maintenance when inks are loaded.)

multiple times per week

weekly or less often*


Learn more about direct to garment printers: