Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Transfer (DTF) - The Only Guide You'll Need

You may have heard of a new technology recently and its many terms such as, “DTF”, “Direct to Film”, “DTG Transfer”, and more. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll be referring to it as “DTF”. You may be wondering what is this so-called DTF and why is it getting so popular? Here we’ll do a deep dive on what DTF is, who it’s for, benefits and drawbacks, and more!

Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Transfer (also known as DTF) is exactly what it sounds like. You print an artwork on a special film and transfer said film onto fabric or other textiles.


Benefits

Versatility on Materials

  • DTF can be applied on a wide range of materials including, cotton, nylon, treated leather, polyester, 50/50 blends and more (light and dark fabrics).

Cost Effective

  • Can save up to 50% white ink.
  • Supplies are also significantly more affordable.

No Pretreat Required

  • If you are coming from a direct-to-garment (DTG) background, you must be familiar with pretreating the garments before printing. With DTF, you no longer have to worry about pretreating the garment prior to printing.

No A+B Sheets Marrying Process

  • If you come from a white toner laser printer background, you’ll be pleased to hear that DTF doesn’t require the marrying process of expensive A+B sheets.

Production Speed

  • Since you essentially take out a step of pretreating, you’re able to speed up production.

Washability

  • Has been proven through testing to be equal to if not better than traditional direct-to-garment (DTG) printing.

Easy Application

  • DTF allows you to apply the artwork on difficult/ awkward parts of the garment or fabric with ease.

High Stretchability and Soft Hand Feel
No Scorching

Drawbacks

  • Full size prints don’t come out as great as direct-to-garment (DTG) prints.
  • Different hand feel compared to direct-to-garment (DTG) prints.
  • Must wear a mask when handling the DTF adhesive powder.
  • Must keep the DTF adhesive powder in a cool temperature. High humidity can cause quality issues.

Pre-Requisites for Your First DTF Print

Like we mentioned above, DTF is extremely cost-effective and therefore, doesn’t require a sizable investment.

Direct to Film Printer

  • We have heard from some of our customers that they use their direct-to-garment (DTG) printers or modify a printer for DTF purposes.

Films

  • You will be printing directly on the film, hence the process name “direct-to-film”. DTF films are available in either cut sheets and rolls.

Software

  • You are able to use any direct-to-garment (DTG) software. However, the Kothari Neo Rip allows for additional benefits, which will make your life much easier. You will be able to adjust the white levels on your prints, so you’ll be left with a soft hand feel without sacrificing quality.

Hot-Melt Adhesive Powder

  • This acts as the “glue” that binds the print to the fabric of your choosing.

  • Has been proven through testing to be equal to if not better than traditional direct-to-garment (DTG) printing.

  • A curing oven/ dryer is optional to melt the adhesive powder to make your production even faster.

Process

Step 1 - Print on Film

  • You must print your CMYK down first, then your white layer afterwards (which is the opposite of direct-to-garment (DTG). This can be done easily with the Kothari Neo Rip software in one pass. Other softwares will require you to run the print twice to accomplish this.

Step 2 - Apply Powder

  • Apply the powder uniformly while the print is still wet to ensure it sticks. Carefully shake off the excess powder so there’s no remaining other than the print. This is extremely important as this is the glue that holds the print to the fabric.

Step 3 - Melt/ Cure the Powder

  • Cure your newly powdered print by hovering with your heat press at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 minutes.

Step 4 - Transfer

  • Now that the transfer print is cooked, you are ready to transfer it onto the garment. Use your heat press to transfer the print film at 284 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds.

Step 5 - Cold Peel

  • Wait until the print is completely cooled off before peeling the carrier sheet off the garment or fabric.

Overall Thoughts

  • While DTF is not positioned to overtake direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, this process can add an entirely new vertical to your business and production options. Through our own testing, we have found that using DTF for smaller designs (that are difficult with direct-to-garment printing) works best, such as neck labels, chest pocket prints, etc.
  • If you own a direct-to-garment printer and are interested in DTF, you should definitely give it a try given its high upside potential and cost-effectiveness.

For more information on any of these products or processes, feel free to check out this page or to give us a call at 714-576-2900 – be sure to check out our YouTube channel for walkthroughs, tutorials, product spotlights, webinars and more!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published