Garment Printing with White Ink

White Ink T-Shirt Printing Machines

The Pros and Cons of Printing with White Ink on Dark Shirts with a T-Shirt Printing Machine

T Shirt printing machines, or DTG Printers, have forever changes the way we view t-shirt decoration. Once you’ve decided to purchase a t shirt printing machine or system, you are faced with not only a brand choice, but whether you want the ability to print on dark shirts. Do you buy a dtg printer that uses white ink or not? There are several pros and cons to printing with white ink. They range from the cost of the end result to the added maintenance and learning curve. But the real questions are – is the return on investment for a t shirt printing machine that will print on dark shirts high enough to outweigh the downsides? To learn more concerning Machine Embroidery in general click Me.

Digital Printing on Dark Shirts

If you have decided to add a direct to garment printer to your existing business, or even start a new custom t shirt shop based on a t shirt printing machine, one of the first things to consider is: “Who will you be selling to?” And “Will they WANT you to print on black garments?” For an easy answer if you’re just starting out, just walk into any t shirt shop in your local mall, or observe any collection of kids, high schools students, sports fans, etc. and pay attention to what they’re wearing. You will definitely find the vast majority that are wearing a t-shirt, are wearing a dark colored one!

What EXACTLY are the Pros and Cons of a DTG Printer that uses White Ink?


White Ink Prints cost more. TRUE. You will spend up to 3 or 4 times more on a shirt with white ink than on a light colored t-shirt without. Not only is white garment printer ink more expensive, but the way t shirt printing machines work is that whatever you print onto a dark shirt, you have to print the design first all in white. The idea is that the colors will be printing on the white “underbase” rather than directly onto the colored cotton of the t-shirt. So you’re printing on 2 layers instead of just one.


Even WITH the extra ink cost, it’s still cheaper for a short run of custom t-shirts to use your t shirt printing machine with white ink than the cost of separations, films, screens and set up associated with screen printing.


It’s harder to print with white ink. Technically TRUE. BUT, you also get the opportunity to create better images, and once you learn how to use the RIP software that comes with your t shirt printing machine, you’ll see it’s more than worth the effort.


Even though it is a little more work up front, it’s still not as hard as doing screen printing and much faster for short runs. Also, don’t forget that dark custom t-shirts can sell for MORE.

Should I buy a T-Shirt Printing Machine that Uses White Ink

The answer is almost always YES! Yes, because it gives you the option of printing on dark shirts. After all, you don’t have to even fill your white ink if you just want to print on white tees. You can always expand. If you buy one that doesn’t’ have dark shirt printing capabilities, you will be stuck. Yes, because one source indicates that only 30% of printed tees sold are white. Why restrict your business to 30% of the market? Yes, because it’s probably easier to maintain a digital t shirt printer than a screen printing set up. Yes, because it’s a profitable business to be in!   For more information about t shirt printing machines that print on darks, visit