Are you searching for a printing technique that will give you exceptional hues and tones, allowing you to elevate your product line? Look no further. Direct-to-film (DTF) printing might just be the perfect solution for your online store.
In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the many different use cases of DTF printing, and how you can leverage it to expand your catalog of customized merchandise. Follow along as we explore the implications of this incredibly efficient technology, and how you can harness it to push the boundaries of what's possible.
What is Direct to Film (DTF)? 🖨️
DTF printing is a process in which custom-made apparel is produced by printing images or graphics directly onto film. This has revolutionized the world of ecommerce by allowing online businesses to manufacture high-quality, custom-designed products with more detail than traditional printing methods.
How does Direct to Film (DTF) work? 🤔
It first involves using a DTF machine to print designs or artwork onto a piece of specially-coated film (called PET film). Water-based inks and adhesives are applied to the film, and it is then transferred onto the clothing item of your choice by using a heat press.
While the film is being prepared, the fabric receiving the design gets dehumidified and pre-flattened. This helps facilitate a seamless transfer, and results in detailed, intricate designs with colors that pop.
After the film is successfully applied to the clothing, it is carefully peeled off and removed. The garment is then pressed a second time. This makes the final product less likely to fade and wash away, so you can rest assured that your merchandise will remain durable and withstand the test of time.
Direct to Film (DTF) Pros ✅
- Ideal for bulky outdoor items like sweaters and jackets
- Consistent and accurate color reproduction
- Faster turnaround time than traditional printing methods
- No need for printing plates or screens, reducing setup requirements
Direct to Film Cons (DTF) ❌
- More suitable for short-run or on-demand printing
- Requires maintenance and calibration to maintain quality
- Crispness of image depends on capabilities of DTF printing machine
- Consistency across multiple prints is not always guaranteed
What's different about Direct to Film (DTF)? 🎨
Unlike many other printing tactics, which involve several time-consuming steps, DTF printing allows for the entire graphic to be printed onto a piece of transparent film at once. This results in a higher level of precision in the image, making it perfect for creating unique, one-of-a-kind designs that really stand out from the crowd.
In our experience, the level of detail you get from DTF printing is unmatched. If your logo or graphics have multiple components and colors, it is the preferred way to go given the amount of granularity it can capture.
DTF printing is also incredibly versatile, and can be used to create a wide range of apparel products. From hoodies with uneven surfaces to baseball caps and tote bags, DTF printing can be relied upon to achieve dynamic and eye-catching designs.
But beyond creating merchandise that engages and turns heads, DTF printing also produces apparel that is highly durable. The inks used are formulated to be long-lasting, which means that they are more resistant to fading. Your designs will look as vibrant and fresh as the day they were printed, even after many washes and wears.
Direct to Film (DTF) FAQs? 🙋
Is Direct to Film better than sublimation?
Sublimation is a popular printing method due to its ability to transfer dye from paper onto materials using heat and pressure. It takes much longer to complete than DTF printing, however. Also, it's primarily used for polyester and polyester blends, whereas DTF printing supports more fabric types.
Is Direct to Film better than DTG (Direct to Garment)?
DTG works by spraying ink directly onto the fabric, but a pre-treatment solution has to be applied first, meaning it is not as efficient as it sounds.
Additionally, DTG printing is mainly used for cotton products, so if your items contain other types of fabrics, direct-to-film is better. DTF also enables a higher level of accuracy, allowing more intricate designs and details to be printed.
How does Direct to Film compare to screen printing?
Screen printing and direct-to-film printing are very distinct in their approach. While screen printing involves pushing ink through a mesh stencil, resulting in a thicker feel on the fabric as more design components are added, DTF printing uses a single transfer film to create a more uniform finish, regardless of design difficulty.
This makes DTF printing better suited for patterns with multiple elements, while screen printing works well for simple, solid designs. Additionally, DTF printing does not require a separate stencil for each design layer. All that's required is a printer, transfer film, and a heat press.
How does Direct to Film printing crack?
The cracking of DTF prints can occur for a number of reasons, such as improper handling or storage, exposure to extreme temperatures or humidity, or malfunctions when adhering the ink to the film.
Final Thoughts 🕵️♀️
DTF printing is a great way to scale your catalog to include many different types of apparel–no matter the fabric or design components.
One of the key advantages of direct-to-film printing is its ability to accurately print on a wide variety of materials. This allows you to make a vast selection of items with high-resolution, full-color graphics.
Another advantage of direct-to-film printing is its speed and efficiency. Simply put, it allows you to manufacture in the kind of volume that a rapidly growing ecommerce store requires.
There are many on-demand printing platforms that you can connect to your Shopify store, and that make use of a variety of printing techniques to fulfill your orders. Printful is one such company. They currently use DTF printing on select products like their unisex denim t-shirt, and their recycled tracksuit jacket.
To find out more about how you can use Printful to deliver customized apparel to your customers, you can read our in-depth review of the tool here.