What is DTF Printing? Direct to film printing steps

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What is DTF Printing?
2022-08-04 14:56:38

As the name suggests, DTF printing involves transferring print onto fabric, sewn into clothes. The most recognizable attribute that makes this process worthy of use across a larger number of people is the freedom to choose almost any fabric. Aside from the ability to fabricate a custom concept and deliver it on time, DTF printing is also cost-effective. The usage of DTF printing for on-demand clothing has been increasing as more consumers seek personalized outfits.

What do You Require for DTF Printing?

DTF printing requires little investment on the user's part, with the only requirements being a DTF printer, Films, Software, a Heat Press machine, and a few other accessories. The following is a complete list of elements that you need to consider when setting out on your digital textile journey:

Direct to Film Printer

A direct-to-film printer can print on a variety of different fabrics, thereby enabling the user to create a wide range of customizations. The direct-to-film printer makes it easy for you to print on any substrate, directly or indirectly. DTF printers feature six-color inkjet tanks, allowing you to create exceptional quality and clarity designs.

PET Films

PET films are a popular choice for DTF printing. Unlike screen printing films, PET films have greater thickness and excellent clarity.

Software

Most DTF printers come with software that guides the user through printing. This software customizes background colors, graphic layers, and other print options. An optimized print requires specific color restrictions, which can be achieved using the software. The software further enhances customizability, allowing you to alter the size of your design.

Hot-Melt Adhesive Powder

Printing powder serves as an adhesive between the film and the fabric. It would help if you used a high-quality printing powder so that the adhesiveness between your fabric and print is consistent.

DTF Printing Ink

It would be useless for you to go for a DTF print without using DTF printing ink. DTF printing ink works as a dye that fits snugly on the surface of the PET film. You can use ink to create images and patterns from a wide range of subjects, providing limitless options.

Automatic Powder Shaker

The automated powder shaker spreads the printing powder evenly across the substrate.

Heat Press Machine

This machine presses the materials together after transferring your DTF design onto them. You must ensure that the press machine you choose has a relatively high heat range to obtain optimal adhesion.

Direct to Film Printing Process Steps

1. Print on Film

You first have to print out your image on PET film in white. After that, adjust the color settings on your printer to print your desired image on top of the first layer. This first layer serves as a foundation. It is crucial to remember that the film image must be a mirror representation of the actual image.

2. Powdering

After the initial printing, you apply the hot-melt powder directly onto the film's surface. You can use an automated shaker to ensure the powder is evenly spread across the surface. In addition, the powder is normally applied when the film is still wet from ink.

3. Melt the Powder

The curing oven then melts the powder, ensuring you get a uniform result from powder application.

4. Pre-pressing

Flattening the fabric involves a pre-pressing procedure where the fabric is pressed between heat and press platens. The resulting temperature paired with the flattened fabric ensures that the image is transferred properly onto the fabric.

5. Transfer

A transfer is central to the DTF printing process. Once the fabric has been heated between the platens, the PET film is pressed against the fabric. The process is conducted at a temperature of around 170 degrees Celsius for a short span of around 20 seconds, after which the film is firmly stuck onto the fabric.

6. Cold Peel

As the name suggests, cold peeling involves slowly removing the film from the fabric, and the result is a stable print with clear and intricate details. However, the process must be conducted after the fabric has cooled down to room temperature.

7. Post-pressing

Although optional, post-pressing is a procedure that is highly recommended. This is done to ensure that the print remains textured, creating a customized and original design.

Pros and Cons of DTF Printing

Pros

  • Suitable for all fabrics: PET printing is suitable for all kinds of fabrics, whether cotton, silk or any other type of fabric.
  • Good quality: the double printing or transfer printing process ensures print quality. Colour fastness is also guaranteed.
  • Reassurance: the design is printed first on paper and then on fabric, making it easier for us to print with confidence. Before printing on the fabric we can check the print. Printing defects on the fabric can be reduced.
  • No paper cutting required: the design can be applied to the fabric without the need to cut paper.
  • Easy to handle: PET film transfer is not a complicated process. It is simple to learn and does not require much maintenance.
  • Environmentally friendly technology: many new contributions have been made to make it more environmentally friendly.
  • Varied choice: the most important area of concern when choosing the desired printing technique is the colour limit. In PET film transfer, there is no limit to the number of colours that can be used, making it a better choice.
  • Less ink used: Much less ink is used for printing than in other printing methods. White and coloured inks are used less frequently.

Cons

  • The print feels somewhat plasticised, similar to the feel of a screen print transfer or HTV.
  • The printing process is more complex than other techniques such as sublimation or DTG.

Difference Between DTF and DTG

Both types of printing are suitable for small items or personalization, such as T-shirts or masks. But the results and printing process are different in both cases, so it's hard to say which one is better.

DTG Printing

  • It needs to be pre-treated. DTG printing needs to start with the pre-treatment of the garment. This step is necessary before printing because we will be working directly on the fabric, which will allow the ink to be well fixed and avoid transfer through the fabric. In addition, we need to heat the garment prior to printing to activate this treatment.
  • Direct printing onto the garment. DTG does not require transfer and is printed directly onto the garment, so the printing process is shorter than DTF.
  • The use of white ink. We can choose to put a white mask as a base color to ensure that the ink does not mix with the color of the media.
  • Printing on cotton. This type of printing can only be done on cotton garments.
  • Final pressing. To fix the ink, we have to do a final press at the end of the process and our garment is made.

DTF Printing

  • No pre-treatment is required. In DTF printing, there is no need to pre-treat the fabric since it is pre-printed on the film which will be transferred to the fabric.
  • Printing on film. In DTF, we print on film and then transfer the design to the fabric. This can make the process a little longer compared to DTG.
  • Gum Powder: This type of printing requires the use of gum powder, which needs to be added once the ink has been printed on the film. On printers created specifically for DTF, this step is included in the dithering machine, so you can avoid any manual steps.
  • Use white ink. In this case, it is necessary to use a layer of white ink, which is placed on top of the color layer and serves as the basis for the main color of the design.
  • Any type of fabric. one of the advantages of DTF is that it allows you to use any type of fabric, not just cotton.
  • Transfer from film to fabric. The final step in the process is to transfer the printed film to the fabric using a press.

Why Should You Choose a DTF Printer?

DTF printers are characterised by fast print times, the ability to print on a wide range of different fabrics, the durability of the print and the low cost per print. In addition, DTF printers are small and lightweight, making them easy to move around.

Direct-to-film printing is a reliable and cost-effective method that can create small or large orders without sacrificing quality. Customers can enjoy the thrill of getting a shirt that bears their name or initials in the form of a customized design. Many customers often opt to purchase multiple shirts bearing the same design. This means a business firm can generate higher profits than expected in a short period.

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