Quick Guide to DTF(Direct to Film) Printing

Quick Guide to DTF(Direct to Film) Printing

DTF (Direct to Film) printing, is a digital process where the artwork printed onto special film and then Glue is applied, cured and then the transfer is fitted to the T Shirts and apparel. You may not have heard of DTF(Direct to Film) printing, as this is one of the newer Printing Methods that is becoming popular. DTF (Direct to Film) is the perfect option for print-on-demand business where you have your own Designs and fit them as you sell them. Let’s take a look at DTF (Direct To Film) advantages, disadvantages.
Direct-to-film printing uses a printer that is very similar to the inkjet printer that you currently use to print onto paper. The main difference is that you are printing onto transfer paper and applying Glue to the ink. DTF was created to be a quicker option and cost effective to screen printing and DTG with the option of easily printing full colour and fit to most T Shirts and Apparel. DTf is a great method to print onto t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, and other apparel. Perfect for 100% cotton, 100% polyester and blends, making DTF a very versatile printing method.
This Print method is a digital process, so you print from an electronic format that is loaded into a RIP Software that then processes the image and sends it to the printer. The printer will then print the image directly onto the film, once the film is printed it will need to have a glue applied, this is a special power that you purchase from the film sales outlet. After applying the glue the transfer will need be heat set to a grainy finish, and not as far as an orange peel finish. Once the transfers have been set they can be fitted to the T Shirts and apparel using a heat press. Obviously the ink used in the printer is specially formulated to work on fabric garments, it is water-based ink that is normally eco friendly, but this may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. The film can be purchased in different peel temperatures, Cold, Cool, Warm and Hot Peel.  

Some of the benefits of DTF are.

  • Relatively Low setup cost
  • Fast print time on low volume jobs
  • Easy maintenance, easy cleaning
  • Print directly from photos and digital images
  • Perfect process for Print on Demand Business.
  • Can print onto materials that are difficult for other process to do, eg Polyester Garments.
  • Lower ink cost compared to DTG.
  • No pretreatment is required

Some of the setbacks of DTG are.

  • A special setup is required.
  • Ink Cost is high compared to screen printing
  • Slow print speed compared to screen printing on volume jobs
  • Dependant on the Printer set-up it can be slower and has mer steps than DTG
  • Speciality Film, ink and powders are required.

One of the factors that can have a big effect on DTf Print quality is the quality of the materials that you purchase, cheap powder and film can lead to poor quality prints and washability.

One of the big pitfalls that we are talking to a lot of printers about is the use of cheap Chinese set-ups (and when we say cheap this can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. A lot of these setups do not have colour profiles setup in the rip software to suit the printer, and this can need to be done, this can also be a very expensive process, we strongly recommend doing a lot of homework prior to purchasing this type of setup. We also strongly advise against purchasing a Paper printer that has been retrofitted to print DTF, as you will in our experience be buying a lot of heartache.

If you just want to buy and fit DTF T Shirt Transfers yourself we recommend checking out DTF Transfers Australia, you can buy the transfers ready to fit.

If you are looking to move into the DTF printing we recommend talking to ADZON or GJS as they will both give great advise about purchasing equipment that will do what you want.

We hope this general overview helps.

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