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What is DTF Printing? | Direct To Film Printers Explained



An increasing number of businesses are switching to DTF printers, contributing to the printing industry's recent boom.

To that end, you may be wondering, "What is DTF printing, what is a DTF transfer, and why have I been hearing about it everywhere?! In this context, "DTF" is a form of heat transfer that has become popular with garment decorators. How is it dissimilar from direct-to-garment printing (DTG) and heat transfer vinyl?

In order to obtain ease, convenience, and consistency in performance with a vast array of colors, DTF Printer is ideal. Moreover, DTF Printers are now dependable and inexpensive machines.

Now, let's get down to brass tacks and see what benefits Direct to Film Printer offers.

Introduction to DTF Printing:

Most of you might be questioning what is DTF Printing? Short for Direct To Film printing, is a modern digital printing technique on Hanes 5250T that has gained popularity in recent years. It involves transferring designs directly onto a thin film using specialized DTF printers. This customization method from VeeTrends offers several advantages over traditional printing methods, making it a preferred choice for many businesses. To understand DTF printing better, let's delve into its concept, advantages, benefits, and the diverse range of industries that have embraced this innovative printing technology.

Also, check out the Guide to buying Next Level Customized Apparel. 

Understanding the Concept of DTF Printing

DTF printing is a process where designs are printed onto a thin film and then transferred onto various plain t shirt wholesale. Unlike other printing methods, DTF printing doesn't require a separate transfer paper or special inks. Instead, it uses a combination of digital printing technology and heat to create high-quality prints. The designs are first printed on a transparent film using specialized DTF printers, and then heat is applied to transfer the design onto the custom cotton Polo shirts. This direct transfer process eliminates the need for complex steps and simplifies the overall printing process.

Advantages and Benefits of DTF Printing

DTF printing offers several advantages and benefits that make it to style Jerzees 995M. Firstly, it allows for high-resolution prints with vibrant colors and fine details. The direct transfer process ensures that the designs are accurately reproduced on various substrates, including fabrics, plastics, and metals. DTF printing also offers excellent T-shirt styling options with durability and washability. It makes a great ideal for items such as clothing and accessories. Additionally, it enables quick turnaround times and cost-effective production, making it a viable option for both small-scale and large-scale printing projects.

Also, check Why Hoodies are the Best Branding Options.

Applications and Industries Utilizing DTF Printing

DTF printing has found applications in a wide range of industries, thanks to its versatility and capabilities. The t shirt wholesale outlet industry utilizes DTF printing for customizing clothing items, including t-shirts, hoodies, and hats, with intricate designs. It is also popular in the promotional products industry in bulk T-shirt purchases. It allows businesses to create personalized merchandise such as bags, mugs, and phone cases. The home decor industry benefits from DTF printing by offering unique and customized designs on various surfaces like pillows, curtains, and wallpapers. Additionally, DTF printing is employed in the signage and advertising industries for producing eye-catching displays and banners.

Also, you must check Wholesale T-Shirts for Your Clothing Line.

DTF Printing: What Is It?

In printing, "direct-to-film" or "DTF" refers to the use of film as the printing medium. Exactly how do these direct-to-garment (DTF) transfers get from a film and ink cartridge to a one-of-a-kind tee? Initially, a high-quality inkjet printer is used to print the design onto the film. Professional textile inks come to life by binding to fabrics in a manner as close to permanent as possible, making them vastly superior to the conventional inks used for printing high school research papers.

Printing the design backwards on the film will result in the image being upside down on the garment. Supplier instructions are typically a part of the manual with DTF transfers. In order to know whether you have a "cold peel" transfer (where the backing is removed from the freshly pressed design after it has cooled) or a "hot-peel" transfer, it is important to read the instructions (meaning you peel the backing off the freshly pressed design quickly after pressing). By applying heat, the ink transfers from the film backing to the cloth, permanently adhering the design to the fibers. Thereafter, the film can be easily peeled away and discarded.

What Exactly Is A DTF Printer?

A direct-to-film printer does exactly what its name suggests: prints directly onto a film that one can easily transfer onto the desired surface (in this case, fabric). The flexibility offered by the DTF printer means it can be used with virtually any substrate.

The DTF printer technology makes it simple to print on a wide variety of fabrics, including natural fibers like cotton t-shirts and synthetics like polyester t-shirts and silk. DTF printers can also print on both dark and white fabrics without resorting to the use of more expensive A&B paper.

How Does a Direct-to-Film (DTF) Printer Operate?

To start, there is no need to go into debt to use printer DTF in your printing business. Consider giving these printers a closer look if you are just starting out in the printing industry or if you want to adapt DTF t-shirt printing to grow your business.

Regularly, DTF-altered printers have more than one color ink cartridge. The tanks make it easy for printers to use CMYK modes. DTF printer ink serves this very exact purpose.

Moreover, the DTF procedure did away with the rollers that would otherwise cause the page to slide. If your white layer print has any lining, this will fix it. So, if you want a printing method whose designs always look great and accurately reflect the image you want to see on the fabric, DTF is the perfect choice.

DTF Printing Process Explained

The DTF printing process involves several steps to transfer designs onto various fabrics such as cotton short sleeve t shirts. Firstly, the design is created or imported into a digital design software. Then, the artwork is printed onto a specialized transparent film using a DTF printer. Once the printing is complete, a layer of adhesive powder is applied to the printed design. The excess powder is shaken off, leaving the design covered in a thin layer of adhesive. The film is then placed on the custom ringer shirts, and heat is applied using a heat press machine. The heat activates the adhesive, causing the design to transfer onto the custom shirts. Finally, the film is peeled off, leaving behind a vibrant and durable print.

Step-by-Step Guide to DTF Printing Process

Follow this step-by-step guide to learn the printing process and try it on your favorite wholesale tank tops for printing.

1- Prepare the Design: 

Create or import the design you want to print onto a substrate. Ensure that you know how to measure a shirt so that the design is in a suitable file format. Additionally, you can adjust its dimensions if necessary.

2- Set up the DTF Printer: 

Install the required ink cartridges and ensure that the printer is calibrated and ready for printing.

3- Load the Film:

Insert a transparent DTF film into the printer. Make sure the film is properly aligned and secured in place.

4- Print the Design: 

Send the design file to the DTF printer and initiate the printing process. The printer will transfer the design onto the transparent film.

5- Apply Adhesive Powder: 

Once the design is printed, carefully remove the film from the printer and lay it on a flat surface. Apply a layer of adhesive powder evenly across the entire printed area of Gildan G540L shirts, ensuring complete coverage.

6- Shake Off Excess Powder: 

Gently shake the film to remove the excess adhesive powder. The powder will adhere only to the printed design over Comfort Colors C6014 due to the presence of the adhesive layer.

7- Cure the Adhesive:

Use a heat press machine or a specialized curing unit to heat the adhesive powder on the film. This will activate the adhesive and bind it to the design of Port Authority S608.

8- Transfer the Design: 

Place the film with the adhesive side down onto the custom sweatshirts where you want to transfer the design. Ensure that it is aligned correctly and press it firmly onto the substrate.

9- Apply Heat and Pressure: 

Using a heat press machine, apply heat and pressure to the film and custom toddler sweatshirts. The heat will cause the adhesive to melt and bond the design to the slub fabric of sweatshirts.

10- Peel off the Film: 

Once the transfer process is complete, carefully peel off the film from the sweatshirt. The design will remain on the custom school sweatshirts,  resulting in the most amazing customized art.

11- Post-Processing: 

Depending on the specific requirements of your print, you may need to know how to stretch a shirt. Further, perform additional steps such as curing the print further or applying protective coatings for enhanced durability.

Also, read Art of Purchasing Wholesale A4 Apparel.

Equipment and Materials Required for DTF Printing

To perform DTF printing on Flexfit 6277, you will need the following equipment and materials:

  • DTF printer

  • Transparent film

  • Adhesive powder

  • Heat press machine

  • Substrates

  • Design software

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Preparing Artwork and Designs for DTF Printing

Before starting the DTF printing process, it's essential to prepare the artwork and designs properly. Besides, pre-order garments from wholesale t-shirts bulk supplier to eliminate any false print. This includes creating or importing high-resolution designs into a digital design software. Ensure that the designs are in the correct format and color profile suitable for printing. Adjust the design dimensions according to the desired size of bulk hoodies for printing. It's also crucial to consider any necessary adjustments for color vibrancy and saturation, as the transfer process may affect the final appearance. After preparing the designs, you can print them onto the transparent film using the DTF printer to initiate the DTF printing process.

Also Read: Polo-Shirts Online Will Save Your Time and Money.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Using a DTF Printer

Is a Direct-to-Film Printer a good investment, then? Let's begin by weighing the benefits and drawbacks of this groundbreaking innovation in printing technology.


  • It doesn't need any special preparation.

  • It's versatile enough to be used on a wide variety of materials and fabrics.

  • It will still have some of the texture of the material it was printed on. The fabric will have great wash resistance after printing.

  • Compared to other printing technologies, like DTG, this one is much easier and faster to implement.


  • When compared to subliminal printing, the printed area is slightly more obvious.

  • When compared to sublimation printing, the colors could be more vivid.

Where Do I Go To Get DTF Transfers?

You may be wondering where to buy these transfers if you need the means to print them yourself. Whether you're looking for a supplier on Etsy, which has a ton of them, or in one of the many online t-shirt decorating groups or forums, you're sure to find a helpful person and show your appreciation for small business ownership.

Do your homework before purchasing a DTF transfer printer to ensure you get one that meets your specific needs. Kingdom DTF, DTF Superstore, and ColDesi are just some of the places you should check out. This is a great option for anyone looking to print their own shirts quickly and easily with DTG while also selling DTF transfers to other apparel decorators.

Choosing the Right Direct To Film Printer

Selecting the appropriate direct to film (DTF) printer is an important aspect for achieving high-quality prints on oversized t shirt wholesale. Consider factors such as printing requirements, budget, and desired features of Bella Canvas 3001. It's essential to choose a reliable and reputable brand like VeeTrends that offers excellent customer support and a track record of performance. Research different models, read reviews, and compare specifications to make an informed decision.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a DTF Printer

Several factors should be taken into account when choosing a DTF printer. Firstly, assess the printing volume and speed required for your specific Gildan G180. Consider the type of top 3 Gildan shirts you'll be working with and ensure compatibility with the printer. Evaluate the print quality and resolution capabilities. Additionally, factor in the cost of consumables, maintenance, and overall investment in the printer.

Just have a look at How Bella Canvas Elevate Fashion.

Features and Specifications to Look for

When evaluating DTF printers for Port Authority S608, there are key features and specifications to consider. Look for printers with high-resolution printing capabilities to ensure sharp and detailed prints. Check the printer's color management system for accurate color reproduction on Port Authority L100. Consider the printer's connectivity options, user interface, and ease of use. Take note of the printing width and media compatibility to ensure it meets your desired printing requirements.

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Recommended DTF Printer Models for Different Needs

For small clothing business or beginners, the 3D printer offers an affordable entry point with decent print quality on Edwards 1505. The Epson SureColor P800 is a reliable choice for professional-grade prints with its advanced color accuracy and wide color gamut. For high-volume production, the Brother GTX pro B offers impressive speed and efficiency of prints on Fruit of the Loom 3931. We recommend the Roland Texart RT-640 for textile printing due to its exceptional color vibrancy and fabric compatibility. Ultimately, choose a DTF printer that aligns with your specific printing needs and budget constraints.


DTF Transfer Printing Instructions

The white ink layer is produced at the same time as the colored inks, which is a major benefit of this method. As a result of this, it's a convenient replacement for time-consuming approaches like using white toner.

If you're using DTF, you should know that eps, PS, pdf, BMP, tif, jpg, png, and PSD are all acceptable file types for printing your designs.

How Can I Print DTF Transfers?

Now that you understand DTF printing and its potential, you may be asking what kind of equipment is necessary? Well, no worries. We got you!

First, I'll run down the list of tools and machinery you'll need:

  • Six-color inkjet printer with special modifications for direct-to-fabric printing 

  • DTF inks are specially formulated to be exceptionally elastic inkjet inks, so the print won't shatter when the garment is stretched after printing.

  • DTF film is the substrate on which your artwork will be printed.

  • DTF powder is used to bind the ink to the cotton fibers.

  • Given that the printer has been updated and, therefore, cannot print the CMYK and white layers in the correct order by itself, RIP software is required.

  • To expedite the curing process of the DTF film, we advise using a heat press with a vertically lowering upper platen.

Best T-Shirt and Hoodie Designs for Flawless Printing

If you have been looking for some high quality and print friendly t-shirts and hoodies, then luckily you’re at the right place. Here are some of your top recommendations that you can easily at Veetrends:

Highest Quality T-Shirts for Printing

Next Level 3600, Gildan G640 Soft style, District DM130DTG

Premium Hoodies for Screen Printing

Jerzees 4997 Super Sweats NuBlend, Bella + Canvas 3719 Sponge Fleece, Hanes P1607 EcoSmart Fleece

Comparing DTF Printing with Other Printing Methods

When comparing DTF printing with other methods, it can be seen that it offers advantages. For example, high-resolution prints over Hanes 5596 and Bella Canvas 3001 shirts, vibrant colors, and fine details. Compared to screen printing, it simplifies the process and provides versatility. For doing this method, you must know how to iron a picture on a shirt. In comparison to DTG printing, it offers compatibility with various substrates. When compared to sublimation printing, DTF supports a broader range of materials and allows for sharper details.

Also, see Tips for Buying Comfort Colors Apparel in 2023.


DTF Printing Vs. Screen Printing

DTF printing and screen printing services are both popular methods for transferring designs onto various surfaces. Although, there are many differences among each other:

1- Process: 

In screen printing, a stencil is created, and ink is forced through the stencil onto the substrate. DTF printing, on the other hand, involves printing the design onto a transparent film and transferring it directly onto the substrate using heat and adhesive powder.

2- Complexity: 

Screen printing vs embroidery requires the creation of separate screens for each color in the design, which can be time-consuming and expensive. DTF printing simplifies the process by directly printing the design onto the film, eliminating the need for multiple screens.

3- Color and Detail: 

DTF printing offers higher color vibrancy and finer detail reproduction compared to screen printing. The digital printing technology used in DTF printing allows for precise and intricate designs.

4- Versatility: 

DTF printing is compatible with a wide range of clothing fabrics of Flexfit 5001, including fabrics, plastics, and metals. Screen printing primarily uses fabrics and flat surfaces, limiting its versatility in terms of substrate options.

5- Set-up and Production Time: 

Screen print t-shirts at home require more time for set-up, including screen preparation and ink mixing. DTF printing has a faster set-up time as designs for Bella Canvas 3413C can be directly printed onto the film. It also allows for quicker production since there are no complex steps involved.

Also learn some Tips to Buy Hoodies for Customization.

DTF Printing Vs. DTG Printing

DTF printing and DTG (Direct-to-Garment) printing are both digital printing methods, but they have some notable distinctions:

1- Printing Process: 

DTG printing involves directly printing the design onto fabric of custom raglan shirts using specialized inkjet printers. Here the question arises: what is a raglan shirt? A t-shirt whose sleeves extend to the neckline. On the other hand, direct-to-garment transfers the design from a film to the substrate using heat and adhesive powder.

2- Color and Detail: 

Both DTF and DTG printing offer excellent color reproduction and detail, but DTF printing often achieves higher vibrancy and sharpness. DTG printing may face limitations in printing on dark or colored garments of Port Authority L317. On the other hand, DTF printing can handle a broader range of colors and materials.

3- Versatility: 

DTF printing can be used on various substrates beyond fabric, such as plastics and metals. Printing on garment dyed t shirt is mainly suitable for fabric applications.

4- Production Time: 

DTF printing generally has a faster production time since it doesn't require pre-treating garments or the same level of ink curing as DTG printing. However, the speed may vary depending on the specific equipment and setup.

5- Washability and Durability: 

Both DTF and DTG prints can withstand regular washing of Port Authority W808. However, DTF printing often offers better durability due to the heat-activated adhesive that helps bond the design to the substrate.

Also, read Adam Hats Comprehensive Buying Guide.

DTF Printing Vs. Sublimation Printing

Direct-to-Film printing and sublimation on shirts printing are both popular choices for creating vibrant and long-lasting prints, but they differ in several aspects:

1- Printing Process: 

DTF printing involves directly transferring designs using heat and adhesive powder, while sublimation printing uses heat to convert dye into a gas that permeates the Flexfit 6533 surface.

2- Color and Detail: 

Sublimation printing often produces vivid and continuous-tone designs with excellent color vibrancy. DTF printing can also achieve vibrant colors, but it may offer sharper details and finer line reproduction.

3- Substrate Compatibility: 

Sublimation printing is primarily used for polyester-based substrates, as the pigment dyed t-shirts requires a polymer surface to bond effectively. On the other hand, DTF printing offers the flexibility to apply it to a wider range of materials, including cotton, blends, plastics, and metals.

4- Production Time: 

Sublimation printing typically has a longer production time due to the additional steps involved, such as printing the design onto transfer paper and then transferring it to the substrate.

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DTF, DTG, and White Toner Printing Differences

DTG printing using white toner is conceptually similar to DTF printing. Because of this, drawing parallels between them can be a bit murky. Let's break down the distinctions between these methods so you can pick the one that works best for you.

DTF Printing VS DTG Printing

  • Both DTF and DTG involve the use of an inkjet printer that uses white ink, hence the similarity between the two abbreviations. Just what are the distinctions between them?

  • DTF printing is a low-cost alternative to direct-to-garment printing. In comparison to the cost of a direct-to-garment printer, the DTF kit is much more affordable.

  • In DTF printing, production time begins with printing a design onto a film. You then need to mix in DTF powder. After the printed film has been cured, the pattern can be transferred to the fabric. Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing eliminates the need for intermediate substrates and dramatically shortens the production time compared to direct-to-fabric (DTF) printing.

  • DTF has a slightly "plastic" finish, very similar to that of HTV or screen print transfers in terms of touch and appearance. On the other hand, the inks are very elastic, so the print doesn't crack even if the garment is stretchy. Direct-to-garment (DTG) printing is preferable because the ink soaks in entirely by the garment, creating a smoother finish and a more seamless appearance.

  • DTG printing results in a brighter, purer white in this scenario. When dealing with DTF, white loses some of its brilliance and clarity.

  • Inexpensive manufacturing costs are a result of the low consumables that are a part of both methods. Despite the fact that more materials are a part of the DTF printing process, the final cost of a T-shirt printed using this approach is actually lower than that of a T-shirt printed using the DTG printing method.

DTF Printing VS White Toner

  • The two processes are comparable since both require printing the design before transferring it to the T-shirt. There is a striking resemblance in the final product's texture, too. Let's compare the quality of DTF printing to that of cheap white toner for custom T-shirt production.

  • The initial outlay is smaller with a DTF kit as compared to a laser printer; in fact, it's roughly half the cost of a laser printer from Uninet or OKI.

  • DTF is easier to use than white toner because the white layer is alongside the color layer throughout the printing process (compared to low-cost white toner systems).

  • Texture and feel are nearly the same across the two printing methods. DTF inks are textile inks, meaning they are more flexible and resistant to wear.

  • Pureness and brightness of white color are two aspects that white toner improves.

  • White toner requires both toner and NO CUT transfer papers, which significantly increases the cost of printing compared to direct-to-fabric (DTF) printing. Producing a custom T-shirt with a DTF printer is 50% cheaper than producing the same shirt using white toner.

  • While direct textile printing (DTF) is only ideal for textiles, white toner laser printing is great for a variety of applications. Colorful rigid item customization is an option in addition to this category of goods.

Troubleshooting Common Issues in DTF Printing

When encountering issues in DTF printing, it's important to identify and address them promptly. Some common problems include poor ink adhesion, image quality issues, and printer malfunctions. To resolve ink adhesion problems while printing on Next Level 3600, adjust curing settings, use recommended ink and substrates, and consider pre-treatment if needed. Blurry prints can be improved by adjusting print resolution and ensuring proper placement of Next Level N6210 t-shirts. Color inaccuracies can be addressed through printer calibration and using color management tools.

Nevertheless, regular maintenance, such as cleaning print heads, knowing how to distress a t-shirt, and checking ink flow, helps prevent problems. In case of printer errors, updating firmware, power cycling, and contacting technical support may be necessary. Following manufacturer guidelines and seeking professional assistance when needed can help overcome these challenges.

Also, check out How to Style with Blank Apparel

Identifying and Resolving Ink Adhesion Problems

Issue # 1: Poor ink adhesion, leading to smudging or flaking.

Solution # 1: Ensure proper curing by adjusting heat and pressure settings. Use recommended ink and substrate combinations and try not to ruin Jerzees 29L. Pre-treat substrates if necessary for better ink adhesion.

Issue # 2: Ink bleeding or spreading beyond the desired print area.

Solution # 2: Check ink viscosity and adjust accordingly. Ensure proper drying time between layers of 54500 Hanes Teal. Use appropriate print settings to control ink flow.

Also Read: Guide to Buying Gildan T-Shirt.

Dealing with Image Quality Issues

Issue # 1: Blurry or distorted prints.

Solution # 1: Check the print resolution and adjust settings for optimal clarity. Ensure the Sport Tek PST74 shirts are flat and properly positioned. Clean the printer heads and perform maintenance regularly.

Issue # 2: Color inaccuracies or inconsistent color reproduction.

Solution # 2: Calibrate the printer to ensure accurate color output over Sport Tek ST350. Use color management software and profiles. Check ink levels and replace cartridges if needed.

Maintaining and Calibrating DTF Printers for Optimal Performance

Issue # 1: Printer jams or misfeeds.

Solution # 1: Clean the printer rollers and ensure they are free from debris. Adjust the paper or film alignment. Use proper tension settings for smooth feeding.

Issue # 2: Uneven ink distribution or banding in prints.

Solution # 2: Perform regular maintenance, including cleaning the print heads and ensuring proper ink flow. Calibrate the printer to achieve even ink distribution all over Gildan G200 t-shirts.

Issue # 3: Printer errors or malfunctions.

Solution # 3: Update printer firmware and drivers. Reset the printer and power cycle if needed. If this issue is not resolved then Gildan G240 shirts can be ruined by ink all over the body. Contact technical support for further assistance.

Regular maintenance, proper calibration, and following manufacturer guidelines can help prevent ink bleeding over Gildan G500 shirts. Moreover, it can resolve common issues in DTF printing. Troubleshooting techniques may vary depending on the specific printer model and ink system. Refer to the printer's manual or seeking professional support is recommended when encountering persistent problems.

Also Read: Secrets to Buying Wholesale Hanes Apparel.

What The Future Holds?

As one of the most rapidly expanding avenues for embellishing garments, it's a fad that would benefit from early adoption. It also provides more options, as you can print designs for both yourself and others. In case you're already using direct to Film printing, please describe the tools you've found most useful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Direct To film is an abbreviation for the process. This method allows you to print your design straight onto a film and then transfer it to a white T-shirt made of cotton, polyester, or a blend of the two.

Anyone in the cotton or polyester (and their blends of any color) textile company who wants to expand into custom T-shirt printing (or the printing of pillow covers, masks, bags, hoodies, etc.) will find DTF printing to be an ideal way to do so at a cheap initial cost.

DTF is the ideal supplementary technique to dye-sublimation printing if you're already familiar with the former.

Let's take a look at how much money you'll need to start using DTF printing for your T-shirt customization company. One of the many benefits of this customization method is the low initial expenditure to purchase a full kit (printer + consumables) to set up in your workplace and start making money almost immediately.

When compared to other methods of clothing embellishment, DTF printing's versatility in transfer substrates is a major plus. It is a great method for printing on such fibers:

  • Cotton

  • Polyester

  • Rayon

  • Cotton/poly blends

  • Triblends

  • Nylon

  • Silk

  • Leather

Yes, DTF prints are durable and can withstand washing and regular use. When properly cured and applied manufacturer's guidelines, DTF prints exhibit excellent wash and care fastness and color retention. It is important to use high-quality DTF ink and ensure proper curing methods to ensure long-lasting and resilient prints.

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