Direct-to-Film (DTF) is a method of creating heat transfer designs for textile printing. In this process, digital designs are printed onto clear polyester films using digital water-based inks, and a powder adhesive coating is added. The film is then cured, or heat-treated, to activate the adhesive and make it permanent. Once the curing process is complete, the transfer designs can be heat-pressed onto garments or other textile surfaces, using a heat press.
DTF or Direct to film is becoming increasingly popular for textile printing due to its high-quality output, versatility and ability to print fine details such as gradations and photographs. The process also allows for fast turnaround time and an efficient production, reducing the need for manual labor. DTF transfers are also highly durable and can be washed many times without losing the print quality.
It’s worth noting that, DTF transfers process is not suitable for all type of fabrics, Some fabrics such as nylon or silk may have difficulty accepting the transfer due to their unique properties.
HOW IS DTF DIFFERENT FROM DTG?
Direct-to-Garment (DTG) and Direct-to-Film (DTF) are both digital printing methods that can be used for apparel decoration, but they have their own unique pros and cons when compared to each other.
DTG, is a process where designs are printed directly onto garments using inkjet technology and water-based inks. The process is highly versatile, allowing for multi-color designs and low quantities, but it can have a steep learning curve and a complicated pretreatment process. Additionally, certain garment types may not be suitable for DTG printing and placement options can be limited.
DTF, on the other hand, involves printing designs onto clear polyester films using digital water-based inks and a powder adhesive coating. The films are then cured and the transfer designs are heat-pressed onto garments or other textile surfaces. DTF does not have the pretreatment process, but requires a curing process and is not suitable for all types of fabrics. However, it’s also a great option for printing fine details such as gradations and photographs and can be used to produce a high-quality print with a good durability.
Both DTG and DTF are more expensive than traditional screen printing and require more time-consuming learning curve and labor intense artwork preparation. However, they offer alternative options when screen printing is not suitable and the required print are not feasible with the traditional method.
COMPARING DTF to OTHER TRANSFERS
DTF transfers are a different type of heat transfers, when compared to traditional heat transfer vinyl (HTV) and other types of digital transfers, such as sublimation transfers, DTF transfers has it’s own unique advantages and disadvantages.
DTF transfers are similar to traditional heat transfer vinyl (HTV) in that they both use heat to apply designs to fabrics. But DTF transfers require no cutting or weeding of images, as the designs are printed directly onto film. DTF transfers are also more cost effective than traditional HTVs, especially when there are multiple colors in a design and the quantities are low.
When compared to other types of digital transfers, such as sublimation transfers, DTF transfers offer similar artwork flexibility but with a few key differences. DTF transfers, unlike sublimation transfers, can be printed on fabrics other than polyester and can be used to print on dark or light colored shirts. Additionally, DTF Transfers produces crisp, defined edges and fine lines, making it ideal for designs that have floating text or thin lines.
It’s worth noting that DTF is not as widely used as traditional HTVs and other types of digital transfers, and not all heat press machines are capable of using DTF transfers. But for small quantity orders and user-friendliness, DTF transfers is a great option to consider.