DTF (Direct to film) is quickly becoming a brilliant new DTG (Direct to garment) alternative. But is it actually a perfect solution? I have had a lot of experience in both and I believe there is time and place for each printing method. Lets look at some pros and cons.
DTF printing is more accessible compared to DTG printing. You can easily convert a conventional desktop inkjet printer such as Epson L1800 or R2400 to be used as a DTF printer. The only other piece of equipment you will need is a heat press and you are ready to go. DTG printers on the other hand are very expensive and often bulky. A popular reliable Epson SureColor SC-F2100 DTG printer could cost you upwards of £13,000 whereas a brand new L1800 as well as a heat press could be purchased for under £1000. You will recoup your investment in no time.
DTF printing is cheaper because it does not require pretreatment and it uses a lot less ink. (For those of you who are acrorip users, DTG printing is usually done at 80% color ink and 200% white ink. DTF printing only needs 60% color ink and 40% white ink. Because white ink tends to be the most expensive, it adds up to a huge saving). Lets not forget the cost of time. It takes a few seconds to apply the powder to DTF film but how long does it take you to pretreat and dry a shirt? 5 minutes? 10 if you are pretreating manually with a spray bottle and a roller. It might not seem like much but if you can save 5 minutes per shirt that’s a lot of saved time per day.
Because DTF does not require pretreatment there is no vinegar smell or pretreat boxes to deal with.
DTF printing is very versatile. You can print your transfers in advance and press them when required. You can sell your transfers the way they are and easily ship them to your customers in regular letters who can then apply the transfers themselves to whatever garment they like. DTF transfers can be applied to many different surfaces and items that would otherwise be very awkward to print on. Can your DTG printer print on luggage?
DTF requires less maintenance because DTF white ink does not clog up the print heads as much as DTG white ink does.
DTG is still the king of great soft feel. Even though DTF feels a lot better than laser heat transfers, it is still not as soft as good old DTG printed shirts. Thankfully, you can use DTF inks in your DTG printer so if you already own a flatbed, you can do both!