Screen printing and digital printing have long been the cornerstone of the garment printing industry. These established methods, each with unique advantages, have proven invaluable in apparel design and production. In recent years, the development of hybrid printing systems, which harness the strengths of both techniques, has further revolutionised the industry, offering a range of new possibilities and efficiencies.
Curious about how these cutting-edge printing techniques can benefit your business? Click here to explore your options and discover the best printing solution for your needs!
However, since around 2020, a new player has entered the arena, sparking interest and challenging the status quo: Direct-to-Film (DTF) printing. This innovative technology has created ripples in the industry, introducing a fresh approach to garment printing and potentially reshaping the landscape of printing methodologies. As we delve further into this exciting frontier, it’s clear that the evolution and diversification of garment printing techniques continue to gain momentum.
DTF is a printing procedure that directly transferring a design onto a garment or other substrates. The transfer is accomplished by moving the design onto a unique transfer film and applying heat to the film and the desired surface.
DTF’s ability to operate on various substrates, including polyester, cotton, metal, and even ceramic, is a significant factor in its success. Want to print designs on containers in addition to t-shirts? This is possible with DTF prints!
Also Read: Your Guide to Heat Transfer Printing
Future of Garment Printing
Direct-to-film Transfers are a new method of decoration that you must be aware of if you want to stimulate end-buyers and overcome common decoration obstacles.
This innovative imprint method produces high-quality, colourful imprints and is more straightforward to implement than other popular methods, such as the famous and comparable direct-to-garment (DTG) technique.
Procedures Involved in DTF Printing
The procedure of DTF printing is relatively straightforward. Here is how it operates:
Step 1: Print Your Image on Film
Insert the PET film into the printer containers before printing your design or image. Print your image in white first, and then print it in colour over the white layer.
Step 2: Apply the Powder
You will now apply the hot-melt material to the printed film. Applying the powder as evenly as possible while the ink is still fresh is essential, and you should shake off any excess powder. You could use an automated agitator to ensure this is carried out correctly.
Step 3: Melt the Powder
Once the DTF powder has been applied to the film, it is time to dissolve it. Typically, this is accomplished by placing the film in a curing furnace and heating it for two to three minutes.
Step 4: pre-pressing
Ensure that your fabric has been pre-pressed with a heat press to obtain a wrinkle-free, smooth surface that is precisely prepared for your print transfer. This process will also help to dry the material thoroughly.
Step 5: Transferring Your Image
Even though you can store your DTF film transfer for future use, you can begin transferring your image to the fabric once you have completed the previous four stages. First, place the PET film with the image and powder fused onto the material into the heat press to ensure a strong bond.
Step 6: Peel
Please wait until the film has cooled to remove it from the fabric. You should avoid removing it directly from the heat press, as the hot-melt powder functions as an adhesive when it cools, ensuring that the ink adheres firmly to the fabric.
Step 7: The Final Press
This phase is optional, but you should likely perform it with wash and rub fastness for optimal results. First, transfer the fabric to the heat press and press it for 10 seconds more.
Benefits of using DTF Transfer
In contrast to other printing technologies, DTF does not require any pre-treatment of the fabric. Instead, you can transfer your design directly to the fabric, eradicating the time and expense of fabric preparation. Additionally, DTF is suitable for a variety of fabrics, thereby expanding your printing options, and is readily washable. It is also quicker than other procedures, such as DTG.
However, there are a few factors to consider before diving in.
First, the printed area tends to be more noticeable with DTF designs than subliminal printing. So, consider an alternative printing method if you’re attempting to accomplish a specific appearance or texture.
Second, DTF tends to generate colours with less vibrancy than other printing processes, such as sublimation.
Read more about dye sublimation: What is Dye Sublimation? The Future of Printing Technology
Despite all this, DTF printing has more advantages than disadvantages. It is an affordable, more efficient method of printing designs on fabric that requires fewer supplies.
Adaptability of Materials
DTF can be applied to various fabrics, including cotton, nylon, treated leather, polyester, 50/50 mixtures, and others (both light and dark fabrics).
Suggested Read: Fire Retardant Fabric: Everything You Need To Know About!
You can have up to 50% savings on white ink. Supplies are also substantially less expensive.
No Pre-treatment Necessary
If you have direct-to-garment (DTG) experience, you must be conversant with garment pre-treatment before printing. With DTF, pre-treating the garment before printing is no longer necessary. There are no A+B Sheets.
Since you eliminate a pre-treatment stage, you can expedite production.
Tests have shown that it is comparable to, if not superior to, traditional direct-to-garment (DTG) printing.
DTF makes it easy to apply artwork to complex or unusual areas of a garment or fabric. It has also high extensibility and gentle touch with no blistering.
Here are a few notable Facts on DTF Transfer!
- No pre-treatment is required, even for white ink.
- This is unlike DTG printing, which requires pre-treatments to reproduce delicate colours. This eliminates one colour consideration from your list of concerns.
- The powdered adhesive on the reverse of transfers cures rapidly when exposed to heat.
- There is no mess and no elaborate setup necessary. In addition, you can now complete orders quicker than before. Who wouldn’t enjoy this?
- Recommended for polyester and other fabric types
- While DTG printing is preferred for cotton, DTF provides a simple ink-based branding solution for polyester and other unique blends, expanding the opportunity to investigate Next Level Apparel’s (a/73867) extensive fabric collections and styles.
- This new decoration method combines well with a wide variety of polyester and non-cotton formulations, many of which are available from your favourite clothing suppliers. Let’s examine our top choices for Next Level Apparel apparel that can be decorated flawlessly using DTF transfers.
In the constantly evolving world of garment printing, Direct-to-Film (DTF) printing stands as an innovation that is changing the game. Its unique advantages, such as the broad range of materials it can handle, the cost-efficiency, its washability, and the fact that it doesn’t require pre-treatment, make it a versatile choice for many businesses. The process might need a bit of practice to master, but once it’s understood, it can open up a world of creative possibilities.
- Why You Should Use DTG Digital Printing | Printing Guide
- Iron-on Heat Transfer For T-shirts 
- Digital Printing vs Embroidery: Which Is the Right One for Your Workwear?
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