Direct to film (DTF) printing is a versatile technique that involves printing designs onto special films for transfer onto garments. Its heat transfer process allows similar durability to traditional silkscreen prints.
How does DTF work?
DTF works by printing transfers on film that are then heat pressed to various garments. While DTG (direct to garment) technology works only on cotton fabrics, many more materials are compatible with DTF printing. DTF printers are affordable compared to DTG or screen printing technologies. DTF powder, printable two-sided cold peel PET film (for printing transfer film), and high-quality DTF ink are required for best results.
Why is DTF growing in popularity?
DTF printing offers greater versatility than other printing technologies. DTF enables printing on various fabrics, including cotton, nylon, rayon, polyester, leather, silk, and more. DTF printing has revolutionized the textile industry and updated textile creation for the digital era. The process is straightforward: digital artwork is created, printed on the film, then transferred onto the fabric.
More advantages of DTF printing:
• It’s easy to learn
• Pretreatment of fabric isn’t required
• The process uses about 75 percent less ink
• Better print quality
• Compatible with many types of material
• Unmatched quality and high productivity
• Requires less space than other technologies
DTF Printing is Ideal for Small and Medium Businesses
The DTF process enables creators to get started more quickly than DTG or screen printing technologies. From there, the easy DTF four-step process results in fabrics that feel softer and offer greater washability:
Step 1: Insert the PET film in the printer trays and print.
Step 2: Spread the hot-melt powder on the film with the printed image.
Step 3: Melt the powder.
Step 4: Pre-pressing the fabric.
Designing a DTF printing pattern is as easy as designing on paper: your design is sent from the computer to the DTF machine, and the rest of the work is done by the printer. While DTF printers look different from traditional paper printers, they function much like other inkjet printers.
In contrast, screen printing involves dozens of steps, which means that it’s typically only cost-effective for the simplest designs or for printing a large number of items. Although screen printing still has a place in the clothing industry, DTF printing is more affordable for small businesses or textile agencies that want to make smaller orders.
DTF Printing Offers More Design Options
It isn’t feasible to Screenprint complex patterns because of the amount of work involved. However, with DTF technology, printing complex and multi-colored graphics is different from printing a simple design. DTF also makes it possible for creators to make DIY hats, handbags, and other items.
DTF Printing is More Sustainable and Less Expensive
With the fashion industry’s increasing interest in sustainability, another advantage of DTF printing over traditional printing is its highly sustainable technology. DTF printing helps prevent overproduction, a common problem in the textile industry. Additionally, the ink used in the digital direct injection printer is water-based and environmentally friendly. DTF printing can realize one-off designs and eliminate the waste of unsold inventory. Compared with screen printing, DTF printing is less expensive. For small batch orders, the unit printing cost of DTF printing is lower than the traditional screen printing process.