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The New Digital Era: DTF Printing

Sep. 22, 2022

Direct to Film Printing

This is the revolutionary style of printing in the garment decoration industry. It provides a more modern alternative to the existing methods of  DTG printing, screen printing or sublimation. Direct To Film is taking the industry by storm as it delivers a printing service that gives the advantage to any person to print digital transfers to decorate dark and light t-shirts on cotton, polyester and all kind of blends without expensive equipment. Also known as direct transfer film, this technology can help you print on denim, polyester, silk and cotton, among many other options. Thanks to the many different advancements in the DTF printers and technology as a whole, you are able to print any image you want on a variety of garments. Thanks to heat pressing, the DTF transfers are fast, efficient and you can obtain some incredible visuals whilst maintaining outstanding quality. 


 The New Digital Era: DTF Printing


What do you need for DTF printing?

The first thing you would need is the hardware/software. Start with the DTF printer. Then you also need PET coated transfer films, and you also need rip software (CADlink), adhesive powder, DTF ink and a heat press machine. In some cases you may need a curing oven, instead of the heat press machine.


DTF Step by Step

Here’s how the DTF process works:

1. Prepare artwork at 300 dpi and on a transparent background. Next, a channel must be created for the white layer.

2. Send the artwork through the RIP software. There are several RIP software options beyond those that come with the DTF machines, including — but not limited to — Cadlink, Wasatch and Flexi.

3. The artwork is printed with an inkjet printer using pigment-based inks CMYK+W onto a clear PET release film.

4. After printing, the film travels over a heated platen on its way to an adhesive powder bath. The powder only sticks to the wet ink.

5. Any powder left in the non-image area is then shaken off by the shaker on the way to the tunnel oven.

6. The tunnel cures the ink and melts the adhesive powder, leaving an “orange-peel” appearance when properly cured.

7. The film travels past cooling fans on its way to be wound.

8. The printed transfers can be applied at 275˚F-295˚F for 10-15 seconds.

9. Depending on the film used, the transfer can be peeled hot or cold. A hot peel produces a matte finish, whereas a cold peel produces a glossier finish.


(Please be aware this is a very basic explanation of how DTF printing works and it will vary depending on your film, powder and printers!!!) As you can see this is a much more detailed process and unique in its own way. 


Flexibility and Speed

DTF is much more similar to dye sublimation in that the printing process doesn’t occur directly on the fabric. Sublimation has the ability to harness a clean printing environment compared to DTG printing.

However, DTF printing offers more flexibility than dye sublimation because the film transfers are stable and can be stored for extended periods of time without dye migration or moisture impacting the transfer during storage. This is another unique factor that gives the DTF concept long-term appeal for retailers seeking smaller inventory and greater flexibility.

DTG platforms have been addressing speed for some time and it is now one of the major factors affecting the platform in which decorators choose to invest. However, regardless of speed, DTG printing still puts the output at or near the end of the production process.

This is where DTG printing and DTF printing will be contrasted most often going forward. DTF printing is essentially a print-on-demand application for which the market will determine the right product mix. It offers the optimal attributes of the plastisol-transfer world combined with the dynamic customization that DTG technology has build its marketplace around.

DTF technology allows decorators to produce transfers that can be applied to almost any untreated substrate under the sun. This is possible because of mechanical powder adhesives. These powders block migrating sublimation gases, provide an extremely smooth hand and allow the transfer to stretch beyond the ability of any other digital-decorating technology. There are more than 300 types of powder adhesives — including the low-temperature variety that can be used at temperatures as low as 225˚F — that are used in a broad range of applications.

Other powders melt and transfer at higher temperatures and provide better washability, making them ideal for the uniform industry and its elevated wash standards. Powders for leather, polyester, nylon and more also are available on the market.

Innovation will continue to grow when it comes to DTF technology. Think different film textures, “hands” and looks that can be compatible with different powders.


Tips for DTF printing

● Make sure that you invest in the best materials. You must have high quality DTF ink, DTF powder, DTF printers and anything in between. InkMall can guarantee your DTF transfers will be done right and that the output is the best it can be.

● STORE YOUR INKS PROPERLY! Ink must be kept at room temperature, therefore storing your ink/printer in a garage will not do your DTF products any good. This is because cold weather can change the temperature of the room and cause the ink to freeze. If it does it will disrupt the stability of the ink and ultimately block printheads. 

● You must make sure to let the film cool after pressing it before peeling. This is because our products are designed for cold peel. Do not peel straight away. 

● ALWAYS AGGRIVATE YOUR WHITE INK. White ink needs to be kept moving as white ink always settles and could ultimately cause a block in the printhead.


If you have any other questions, just call us on +86 75589215002 or email info@inkmall.vip.