The evolution of digital apparel printing at ThreadlessThreadless has been printing T-Shirt designs submitted by our artist community since November of 2000. From 2000-2011, we relied 100% on screen printing to produce our products. We started researching more about digital printing in 2007 as the technology began to show a lot of promise. It wasn’t until 2011 that we felt the quality of direct-to-garment (DTG) printing was ready for primetime. In 2011, we began experimenting with offering some of our designs printed “on demand” through DTG printing. This allowed us to offer designs for sale without inventory sitting on a shelf, and without running out of stock of something our customers wanted to buy. Instead, when an item was purchased, it was made-to-order and then shipped to the customer. By 2015 we had shifted 100% of our production from screen printing to DTG printing. In doing so, we’ve also been able to launch a new platform called Artist Shops that allows anyone to set up their own online store where we handle all the operations like manufacturing, fulfillment, and customer service. Many industries have recently evolved from analog to digital. Using Music & Photography as examples, you can point to very specific changes in the technology that improved the quality to an inflection point. The compression algorithms changed for music files, the bit rates got better, there were more megapixels in the photo file, higher ISO settings became available, autofocus got better and faster, etc. You knew that when you download a music file, the quality depends on the file format and settings. When you buy a new phone, you know the camera quality is better because it has better hardware and software in it. There have been MAJOR improvements in digital apparel printing over the last 10+ years. However, the improvements are much more difficult to pinpoint as a consumer. Below, we’ll walk through some of the key places these improvements are found.