Direct-to-film (DTF) is a unique printing method that includes printing designs onto special films before applying them to products. It is a heat transfer process that has the potential to outlast conventional silkscreen printing. 


But how does this technique work, and what are its advantages, especially compared to DTG and other printing options? Here are eight benefits of DTF technology you should consider when choosing a printing method for your clothes.

What Is DFT Printing?


While digital printing includes spraying designs straight onto the garments, with DTF, your image is first pressed onto a film (or foil). This process allows you to use precise ink amounts, resulting in opaque whites, vivid colors, and astonishingly crisp and delicate edges. High degrees of detail and color gradients are also not an issue because DTF foil absorbs basically every bit of color.


After the printing process is over, the film is given a coating of adhesive before being pressed onto the item, which is positioned in a pressing machine. Because of this, DTF printing is perfect for both dark and light products. In the end, the print becomes as flexible and durable as the material itself.


Although DTF might look like a variation of transfer printing, it requires a desktop inkjet printer with textile inks specifically made for DTF printing. If you’re interested in using this method, keep in mind that the following file types are acceptable: psd, png, jpg, tif, bmp, pdf, ps, and eps. 


8 Benefits of DTF Printing


1. It Doesn’t Require Pretreatment


If you are accustomed to DTG printing and have opted for this method before, you are probably already familiar with the pretreatment procedure (and the long drying time as well). However, with DTF, there’s no need for pretreatment because the hot melt powder used in DTF transfers directly attaches the print to the material. 


2. It Is Suitable for Various Materials


While other printing methods, like DTG printing, work best with 100% cotton, DTF is compatible with a wide range of fabrics. For example, we can freely apply it to polyester, treated leather, nylon, silk, rayon, cotton, 50-50 blends, and both dark and light materials. What’s more, we’ll be able to cover various surfaces, such as metal, wood, glass, shoes, and luggage, with these transfers. That means we can print your designs on an array of different products and surfaces.


3. Better and Longer Lasting Results Compared to DTG


DTG has many benefits. For instance, it results in a barely-there, soft hand feel because the ink is transferred directly to the fabric. 


On the other hand, DTF transfers are more durable but do not offer the same plush hand feel as DTG. At the same time, direct-to-film prints are excellent for heavy-use objects because they are flexible. They also wash well and won’t peel or break easily. In other words, the prints will last longer and look amazing for years to come.

4. DTF Uses Less White Ink


Compared to DTG printing, which uses 200% white ink, DTF printing uses roughly 40% white ink. That makes DTF a more affordable printing method, considering the fact that white ink is usually the most expensive because it is used more frequently. In other words, switching to DTF will reduce the amount of white ink you need for printing your designs, which will save you money in the long run. 


5. Increased Production Speed


As we discussed before, DTF allows us to skip pretreating and long drying your printed apparel. That means we will significantly reduce the production time, making your order ready sooner.


6. Easier Application


Printing onto a film transfer allows us to apply your design to awkward or difficult-to-reach surfaces. In fact, we can use a DTF design on any area that can be heated. 


That also opens up different possibilities. For instance, we can now print just your design transfers. After receiving them, all you need to do is apply them to any item or surface using heat. There’s no need for additional tools!


7. It Helps You Keep Your Stock Ready and More Diversified


Generally speaking, it is not practical to print a stockpile of your most popular designs by printing them onto every color or size of your apparel. However, with DTF printing, we can print your most wanted designs in advance and store them using very little space. That way, we will always have the best-sellers printed and prepared to be applied to any clothing.


8. Easier Maintenance


Larger DTF systems make routine maintenance easier because printers aren’t crammed into a tight space. In addition, since the majority of DTF systems use OEM print heads, they are not considered proprietary technology. That means it will take little effort to find replacement parts.


Another important thing to notice is that DTG and DTF both use glycol-based, water-soluble pigment inks. However, DTF inks are more fluid which helps you avoid head clog issues. 


Which Products to Use DTF for?


Due to the reasonable pressing temperatures, direct-to-film printing is appropriate for a wide range of textiles, including fine, coarse, and mixed kinds. Baseball caps, headgear, totes, and backpacks are examples of the more rugged fabrics you can utilize. However, this technique also works nicely on finer materials, particularly polyester fibers, T-shirts, hoodies, and similar clothing. Furthermore, DTF prints are great for sports and work shirts since they protect delicate fabrics.

Final Thoughts


DTF printing is perfect for anyone wishing to add T-shirt customization or any other textile item (cushions, masks, sweatshirts, bags, etc.) into their printing business without having to invest a lot of money. This method will produce fine-looking, detailed, and striking prints that will last longer. Your designs will wash well and won’t crack even after years of use. 


If you are already experienced with dye-sublimation printing, DTF is an excellent supplementary technology. In addition, it is faster and more affordable. So, if you decide to try it out for your designs, you definitely won’t be disappointed. In fact, you will end up with high-quality and eye-catching prints.