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Best of Both Worlds: Digital Hybrid and Variable Data Printing

(April/May 2019) posted on Fri May 24, 2019

Combining digital and analog garment printing techniques opens up a plethora of possibilities.


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By Michelle Moxley

Digital hybrid printing is a union between analog screen printing and digital direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, two of the most common embellishment technologies in use today. Essentially, a hybrid line consists of an automatic screen-printing press with a CMYK digital printer located on one of the print stations, with the ability to combine screen- and inkjet-printed graphics on each garment. 

DTG and screen printing each have their own unique strengths. DTG is capable of printing short-run quantities with minimal make ready, while screen printing offers rapid print speed with price-competitive consumables that make it the ideal choice for high-volume production. Additionally, with screen printing, any ink color and almost any fabric including polyester can be printed easily, and an unlimited range of special effects can be achieved. 



The hybrid approach is designed to provide a digital enhancement to screen printing. Through the digital CMYK unit, users can decrease setup times and achieve image and color consistency. As with DTG, the printer can offer customers variable data options, but a unique advantage of hybrid is the endless number of customizations that can be created because of screen printing’s capabilities. Analog screen-print setups can be costly and time consuming, requiring high print volumes to absorb the expense. In today’s market, run sizes are trending smaller, requiring more efficiency to amortize setup. Hybrid printing harnesses the strength of both print technologies to create a unique capability for short- to medium-volume production.   

What Makes Hybrid Unique?

Hybrid printing has a number of advantages over traditional DTG and screen printing. Color calibration systems in hybrid lines anticipate and assign CMYK builds to reproduce a gamut of color that includes most photorealistic images, but when a color is out of gamut, users add a screen to achieve it; additional stations on the press are open for special-effect applications that can’t be done via inkjet. 


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