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What is DTF printing?

impresión DTF

Today we wanted to make a very informative article in which you know everything about DTF printing, what it is, what its characteristics are, the materials used, its advantages, disadvantages and differences with respect to other types of printing.

We are sure that this article will be very helpful in making decisions when starting a business or requesting a dtf printing service on t-shirts or, in general, any textile.

What is DTF printing?

DTF printing is a revolutionary and modern technology that allows direct printing on a film that, after going through a curing process, can be applied to t-shirts or cotton or polyester fabrics of any color.

The acronym DTF stands for Direct Transfer Film or direct printing on film (conveyor belt).

This technique allows the customization of t-shirts with many advantages over other direct printing techniques that we will describe below.

What is required to achieve DTF printing?

In order to use the DTF printing technique, it is necessary to have the elements and process that we will describe below:

Printer for DTF

The main element of this printing technique is the trick printer or dtf printer with a piezoelectric head and 6 channels.

In order to print an image on PET film, the dtf printer requires that the formats for printing the designs be: eps, ps, pdf, bmp, tif, jpg, png and psd.

Additionally the image must be printed in mirror mode.

Inks for DTF

The dtf printer requires special inks that are quite flexible and elastic to prevent the print from cracking when the fabric is stretched once printed.

So don’t forget to buy the DTF inks that you will need to personalize your t-shirts with the designs that you like the most.

Transfer film

The paper for dtf is the support where the printing is made, that is, the image is printed on a PET film or non-absorbent substrate, where the ink remains wet on its surface for approximately 5 or 10 minutes maximum.

Adhesive powder or polyamide

An adhesive or polyamide powder must be added to the transfer or PET film that acts as a glue to fix the printed inks on the support or film and the cotton fibers.

This powder is available in black and white to be used according to the color of the fabric where the design will be printed.

Heat press or oven

The heat press or oven will serve to transfer and cure the printed design. Ideally, an iron or heat press with a top plate that descends vertically is recommended so that the hot plate is at the same height on the entire surface.

Once the polyamide is crystallized, the film is placed on the garment to make the print; This is ironed and the film is removed once it is cold, in this way the design will be stuck to the garment.

How is DTF printing different from other types of printing?

This type of printing has some differences compared to other types of direct printing on textiles such as DTG, screen printing or printing with white toner. 

Here we will mention some of them:

  1. One of the big differences from DTF printing is that it uses white ink
  2. Additionally, it can process color and white inks at the same time, which makes the technique easier compared to white laser toner.
  3. This printing technique is more affordable than other current direct printing techniques such as DTG textile printing, screen printing or white toner printing.
  4. Only the design (pigment) is transferred without requiring any vinyl or other material, since the elasticity of the dft ink is much higher.
  5. Time and labor are saved as the design is not required to be cut at its periphery.
  6. Print quality is much higher
  7. Additionally, in small batch production, the output and production costs are more competitive than other types of direct printing.

DTF printing vs. DTG and white toner

Possibly you want to delve a little more into which is better dtf or dtg? or between dtf and white toner?

Well, we tell you that dtf printing is a hybrid or mix between dtg printing and white toner, for which there are advantages and disadvantages.

First let’s do the flip between DTF vs. DTG

  1. DTG printer costs ten times more than DTF printer
  2. The production time using the DTG technique is much less than with the DTF technique
  3. The finish and feel of the print is much finer with the DTG technique since the ink is completely impregnated into the fabric. With DTF printing the finish is more plasticized.
  4. With the DTG technique, a greater purity and intensity of the white color is achieved than with the DTF technique.
  5. The final cost of the printed t-shirt or fabric is lower with the DTF technique than with the DTG.

Now it’s time for the DTF vs. white toner

  1. The DTF printer costs half as much as a white toner laser printer.
  2. The printing process is easier with DTF than with white toner since white and color are printed at the same time.
  3. With the DTF technique, transfer peeling is not required, which does represent time and costs with white toner.
  4. The finish in both techniques is very similar, although dtf inks avoid cracking and are more resistant.
  5. The white toner technique produces a deeper, purer white than the DTF technique.
  6. Production costs with DTF are approximately 50% less than laser white toner.
  7. The laser with white toner allows a greater variety of materials to print unlike the DTF that only allows working with textiles.

As you may have noticed, the DTF printing technique has advantages and disadvantages compared to other direct printing techniques.

We hope that you have more clarity to make the best decisions in your printing projects and that you can offer the printing service in dtf.

You can start a t-shirt customization business with a low investment, or if you already offer other sublimation services, DTF printing can perfectly complement your business and generate profitability.

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