How to Make DTF Transfers for Better Printing Results

DTF (Direct to Film) printers provide users with an innovative and convenient method for transferring images. In traditional screen printing, you use a mesh to transfer the pattern onto the fabric, which can be costly and time-consuming.

With Direct to Film printing, DIYers and hobbyists use PET films instead. These films have a thickness of around 0.75mm, allowing for better image transfer across fabrics. It also helps that these materials come in cut sheets for home use and rolls for commercial purposes. Additionally, PET Films come in two varieties, cold-peel and hot-peel films.

In this blog post, we will discuss everything from what DTF printing is and how it works to tips on making outstanding transfers with great results. Read on and learn how simple it is to make amazing DTF transfers.

DTF Transfers

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What You Need for DTF

In this printing method, your number one supply is a DTF film transfer sheet.

DTF Printer

This direct-to-film printer can print on a specific film, which is often a PET type. The PET films used in DTF printing are different from the ones used in screen printing. Since these films have a thickness of about 0.75mm, they are more capable of accurately transferring even small details from designs.

Moreover, you can find them as cut sheets for individual projects or as rolls for commercial setups. Also, PET films come with two temperature classifications — cold-peel and hot-peel. The cost of this equipment may start at under $1,000.

How to Make DTF Transfers

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When it comes to DTF (direct-to-film) printing, specialized RIP (raster imaging processor) software is important. Not only does this software determine the print performance, but it's also in charge of profiling the colors. This software helps you manage ink levels and droplet sizes, and other integral steps for attaining optimal print quality.

It's critical to select software that services your particular type of printer. With the right software, you can get better results and make changes to white and CMYK colors as needed. Unfortunately, most DTF printers don’t have built-in RIP software but can support it. So, make sure you choose the best option.

Adhesive Powder

DTF Adhesive powder is white and granular. It helps your prints by keeping the colors from smearing or fading away as it permanently binds them to a substrate surface. This makes it especially useful for printing media such as fabric, metal, wood, and more.

Since this material is incredibly versatile, it's important to know the difference between its different grades which range from 0.5 to 50 microns in size. This grade separation makes them suitable for many distinct projects and tasks. With its longevity and reliability, this hot melt adhesive powder is an important addition when printing DTF transfers.

DTF Inks

You can print DTF transfers using specialized inks with exceptional quality for a wide range of printing needs. The inks used are exclusive pigments carefully produced in five colors (cyan, yellow, magenta, white, and black). White serves as the base layer. The machine will print the design in colored pigments over the white layer. It ensures that the colors turn out as vivid as it is imagined. The price for each bottle of ink may start at USD80.

DTF Inks

Image source: Pixabay

Curing Oven and Heat Press

A curing oven is a small industrial machine used to melt DTF powder on a transfer film, which can then be transferred onto any surface or fabric. An alternative option is to use a heat press machine, but some DIYers encourage curing in a no-contact mode for best results. A curing machine may cost USD 450 and up.

Then, you’ll need heat press machines to complete the transfer of DTF films onto virtually any fabric or surface. Having an efficient and reliable curing oven or heat press machine becomes crucial when producing high-quality prints with minimal hassle.

Steps in DTF Transfer Printing

So, how do direct-to-film transfers work? In this section, we will discuss the printing process using a special inkjet printer.

Creating and Printing Your Design

We have mentioned earlier that the right RIP software can make or break your design. So, make sure your software provides high-quality tools for efficient color profiles and an intuitive interface to configure these settings quickly. With the right software, you can perform color profiling.

After printing your image in CMYK on PET film, you then need to print white over the entire image. White is printed behind the actual image for a successful outcome. Depending on your desired results, different types of PET film can be used such as gloss or matte, hot or cold peel.

When you want to make the fabric look like your desired image, you must have a mirror image of it ready before printing. The white ink serves as a base for the adhesive powder that will be applied for the next step in this process. Taking care to adhere to these steps ensures that you obtain the highest quality results.

teckwrap vinyl

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Powdering and Curing

Powdering is an integral step in creating high-quality DTF prints. It involves the application of hot-melt powder on the film with a printed image. While different printers may use different grades of powder, ranging from small microns to larger particles, experts in DTF printing transfers opt for an automated powder shaker to get a uniform amount of coating over the image. This contributes greatly to the print's fabric compatibility, feel, and overall durability when done right.

After the powder has been applied correctly, the next step is to cure it. During this step, the curing oven melts the powder to help it stick to the fabric or other surface materials. Curing sometimes varies between different equipment.

Bigger printer operations will normally use curing ovens or dryers, while smaller setups may opt for a heat press instead. Whatever tool is used, curing the transfer is an essential part of the process to ensure that it can ship and stack properly. A cured transfer can withstand high temperatures during its application onto a garment.

Powdering and Curing for DTF

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Heat Pressing

After you have printed your designs on a film and cured the powder, the next step is to heat press the transfer onto your garment. Heat presses range from 300-350F depending on the DTF transfer used. This process can take anywhere from 10-20 seconds. Low-temp DTF transfers are also available for application at 280-290F for 12 seconds with medium pressure. Additionally, you can remove the film immediately after heat application.

Now, you have an idea of how to print design using the direct-to-film method. How does it compare with other printing methods? Which one is better?

DTF vs Sublimation Printing

Direct-to-film printing and sublimation printing are two different methods of creating custom apparel and accessories. Both offer businesses a budget-friendly way to create specialized items with a professional look. The primary difference between the two is the dye used. Sublimation uses special inks that are transferred to fabric, while direct-to-film uses a special film that can hold inks.

Both require a heat press and have similar setup requirements and costs, but the outcome can be quite different. Direct-to-film prints offer longer-lasting designs due to their heavier ink deposit, while sublimation provides more vibrant colors with better washability. Depending on your needs, either one of these options can provide you with high-quality results at an affordable price.

DTF vs Screen Printing

Direct To Film and Screen Printing enable customers to customize items with graphics, logos, colors, and more. While each method has its advantages, there are key differences that users should understand before choosing a printing technique for their projects. One big difference between DTF and Screen Printing is the materials used.

DTF requires special self-adhesive film sheets loaded into a printer, whereas screen printing uses inks mixed with chemicals that are pushed through a woven mesh stencil onto fabric or other material. Both approaches can produce vibrant colors.

However, screen printing generally offers more detail due to the weave of the mesh material surrounding each color area. Ultimately, it all depends on what your needs are.

DTF vs Direct to Garment Printing

Direct-to-film and direct-to-garment (DTG) printing are both popular techniques used for printing designs onto different fabric surfaces. While their main purpose of creating a printed design on a textile is the same, there are many key differences between the two processes.

The primary difference between the two is the production process. DTG involves directly printing the design onto the garment, whereas DTF requires a film, a powder, a curing oven, and a heat press to complete a design in transferring onto garments.

Furthermore, DTG is faster and more cost-effective but also produces much less vibrant colors than direct-to-film. DTF results are vibrant with excellent image quality and crisp color reproduction.

Both methods have advantages and disadvantages that should be considered when deciding on what type of printing is best suited for your needs. Regardless of which one you go with, at least you can rest assured that your prints will come out looking amazing.


DTF vs Direct to Garment Printing

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Direct to Film Printing vs Heat Transfer Vinyl

When it comes to custom printing on fabric, two popular methods are direct-to-film printing and heat transfer vinyl (HTV). Each method has its unique benefits and drawbacks. Direct-to-film printing can create complex and intricate designs due to the high resolution of digital images it uses but is more costly as a result.

On the flip side, HTV is cost-effective but generally limited to small-scale prints. It also allows for more versatility with its ability to be applied to various fabrics such as viscose and cotton blends. As you can see, both methods are useful for different reasons. But you should always carefully consider factors such as price and the size of your desired print before deciding between them.

Tips and Tricks for Optimal Results

Direct-to-film printing is a great way to produce vivid and rich prints quickly without the hassle of dealing with inks, lacquers, or plates. There are a few tips and tricks that can help you get the most out of your direct-to-film printing requirements.

First, make sure the shooting resolution is high enough. Otherwise, pixelation may occur when enlarged. Second, pay attention to the printer settings such as toner concentration and blade angle to achieve the best colors, sharpness, and quality.

Third, always use high-quality glossy photo paper or polyester films if you want impressive results. Finally, test print on a small sample first before proceeding with production printing - you can verify if saturation levels need adjusting or if other corrections need to be made before going large scale.


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DTF printing is surpassing other printing methods for specific applications. It doesn’t need a pretreatment process, which is often needed in other transfers.

Additionally, DTF transfers work by printing your design on a film, powdering the film, curing it, and heat pressing it on your chosen fabric. The DTF process is an excellent but a bit expensive one because of the equipment and specialized RIP software.

Still, when compared to a DTG printer, it’s a lot cheaper. Lastly, it works on cotton fabrics, polyester, cotton-blend t-shirts, and treated leather.

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