The Ink Passes – on DTG printing – Part II

1 – In DTG printing, the multi-pass process is usually used.

It is typical for DTG printing that more passes are required for a covering white layer than for the colours after it.

The number of passes should be optimized for the application, otherwise, problems can occur. For example, applying too much ink can smudge the prints and also affect washability, aside from the obvious waste of ink and money.

Also, if too little ink is applied, this is often immediately visible: the colours look dull and lifeless or the white background is not opaque enough.

Print quality can also be affected by the number of passes. Print resolution can be increased by not shooting the ink droplets to exactly the same spot over multiple passes, but slightly offset. Many manufacturers who offer DTG printers with, say, 1200 DPI, but have only 300 or 600 DPI printheads installed, use this method to increase the resolution of their prints.


2 – Pass optimizations in DTG

At first glance, it looks like print passes are out of the user’s control, relying solely on the manufacturer’s specifications and default settings.

For example, droplet size, and thus the amount applied per pass, is defined by the manufacturer. Likewise, inks deliver different results – just as wall paint from different manufacturers does not cover equally well.

However, many factors can be controlled and adjusted by the DTG user himself. Especially if good RIP software is used.

For example, users can create their own print profiles in which the number of passes can be specified. This has the advantage that, with a little practice, it is possible to find the optimum point between the minimum number of passes (speed) and the ideal coverage (minimum amount of ink). This saves time and money.

Another factor is the drying or waiting time, which some manufacturers can set. For difficult, colour-intensive designs, it can often be helpful to manually adjust the waiting time between colour passes or even between white and set CMYK layers. This can prevent the design from bleeding. However, it is better to create an optimized print profile and avoid such problems in advance.

3 – Setting the Ink Passes Properly

As with so many factors in DTG printing, those who take the time will be rewarded with better results at a lower price.

A different number of passes can also be used to create printer profiles that can be used to exploit different market potentials.

For example, a profile can be created that uses fewer print passes and therefore applies less ink faster. This “budget printing” can be offered at a lower price. At the same time, another printer profile can be created that achieves higher quality. A higher price can be charged for these products.

However, proper training should not be forgotten. Creating a printer profile often exceeds the daily tasks of an operator. But it often pays off if these optimizations are not neglected.

4 – Conclusion

The ability to produce high-quality prints and save some ink (and money) will make you extremely competitive in the DTG industry. Although you have some trial and error to do in your print shop. And also with your own equipment. However, implementing the suggestions in this article can give you an edge over your competitors.

5 – How about a freebie?

Get your copy of DTGMerch’s Beginners Guide to DTG Printing. It is free for subscribers to our newsletter.

Also, have a look at our online course. Perhaps it can help you.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please write us a comment or e-mail us at:

And as always, all the best, take care and be good!

The DTGMerch Team