DTF vs DTG printing

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.

Pros:

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.

Cons:

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!

20 Comments

  1. Valery
    November 19, 2020
    Reply

    Hello,

    can you please tell me how much CMYK, White ink and powder your DTF printer consumes per 1 cm2 of mage with 50% print density?
    Does RIP show ink consumption before printing particular image?
    If yes can you pls send sample print-screen for reference?

    • Hello Valery,

      Thank you for your interest. We do not provide RIP software. Ink and powder consumption will depend on your RIP settings as well as type of transfer film as some films hold more ink than others. With acrorip for example you can print with 10% white – 200% white and get acceptable results using both extremes. CMYK range is usually between 15-80%. The range is pretty wide so we can’t give you exact numbers. By the way, this is just a regular Epson L1800 printer with a few simple tweaks. You could try Epson L1800 technical specification for more details. We will try and weigh the ink + powder before and after printing using our preferred settings and we’ll get back to you.

      Best regards,
      Ilia

  2. miguel angel santana
    November 23, 2020
    Reply

    hola tengo una DTG ¿se puede imprimir con la tinta dtf indiferentemente sobre camiseta o sobre transfer solo utilizando la tinta dtf ?

    • Hola. Puede imprimir con tinta DTF en una impresora DTG como lo haría con una tinta DTG. Aún necesitará aplicar un pretratamiento y quizás ajustar los colores.

  3. name
    November 30, 2020
    Reply

    can you just place a DTF ink into your DTG printer, and do DTF printing and DTG aswell? does the idea of ink placing into garments are the same from dtg to dtf?

    • Yes, you can put DTF ink into a DTG printer and print both on DTF transfer film and directly onto t-shirts. You will still need to pretreat your t-shirts if you are printing on your DTG printer with DTF ink and you will be using a lot more white ink for the underbase. DTF does not use as much white ink.

  4. February 9, 2021
    Reply

    Can you print with DTG printer and DTG ink on a DTF transfer film?

    • You can but DTF ink is there for a reason. You are not going to get a good result with DTG ink.

  5. Mike
    March 25, 2021
    Reply

    Can I use dtf ink directly onto shirts like dtg ink?

    • Yes you can. During our transition period from DTG to DTF we were running flatbed DTG printers that printed on both the film and t-shirts directly using just the DTF ink.

  6. Mike
    March 25, 2021
    Reply

    Thanks dtf technology for the reply.

  7. Laura
    May 22, 2021
    Reply

    What about the quality of the print? If printed on a dark color – which is more brilliant?

    • You can just order a free sample and see for yourself. DTF does not beat a professional £13,000 – £250,000+ DTG printer. But then you’ll struggle to make a profit. I’d recommend DTF for small print shops and high end DTG for established businesses printing 100+ t-shirts per day.

  8. Hi, like dtg printers can i use only cmyk ink for white tshirt on on dtf printer, or we must use white ink for white tshiert too.

    Because im using dtg m2 only with cmyk ink without white ink, because my shop sell only white tshirt. Is it possible on dtf printer too?

    • Yes, you don’t have to use white ink for white shirts. You just need a thicker layer of CMYK so that the powder can stick to it.

  9. Thank you for eesponse, but i dont understand that part of your answer, “the thicker layer cmyk”, how reach to thicker layer of cmyk, over print the image whitout white ink? For example double print one image on film? Am i got the point?

  10. Thank you for eesponse, but i dont understand that part of your answer, “the thicker layer cmyk”, how reach to thicker layer of cmyk, over print the image whitout white ink? For example double print one image on film? Am i got the point?

    • You need to change rip settings and apply more ink. Depending on the rip software, you can either increase the ink % or the number of passes.

  11. September 16, 2021
    Reply

    Is normal epson damper good for dtf inks?? specially white ink. or is it recommended to upgrade to a dx5 damper with metal filter?

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