Direct To Film (DTF) FAQ's

What are the benefits of DTF printing?

1. Apply your design to a wide variety of materials – While sublimation printing works best on 100% polyester, Direct to Garment (DTG) printing works best on 100% cotton, DTF works on many different garment materials: cotton, nylon, treated leather, polyester, 50/50 blends, and both light and dark fabrics. DTF offers a whole variety of merchandise and workwear for you to offer your customers.

2. No need for pre-treatment – If you already own a Direct to Garment printer, you are probably quite familiar with the pre-treatment process (not to mention the drying time). The hot melt adhesive powder that is applied to the DTF transfers bonds the print directly to the material, meaning no pre-treatment is necessary saving you both time and money.

3. Prints white ink – Unlike other printing processes such as sublimation printing DTF has white ink so you can offer vibrant colour transfers onto any coloured garment using white. The White Ink is a special component that lays out the white foundation of the print on the film and onto which the coloured design is printed.

4. Use less white ink – DTF requires less white ink – about 40% white versus 200% white for DTG printing. White ink tends to be the most expensive since more of it is used, so reducing the amount of white ink used for your prints can be quite a money saver.

5. Easy application – Printing onto a film transfer means you can place your design on hard to reach or awkward surfaces. If the area can be heated, you can apply a DTF design to it! Because all it takes is heat to adhere the design, you can even sell your printed transfers directly to your customers for them to transfer the design themselves.

Can I convert any Epson inkjet printer to use for DTF printing?

No, a DTF Printer is most commonly a converted six colour Epson inkjet printer. The Epson Ecotank printers are ideal as they have 6 colour ink tanks. This provides the convenience of operation as the CMYK DTF inks can go into the standard CMYK tanks whereas the LC and LM tanks of the printer can be filled with White DTF inks. We recommend using a brand-new printer and not attempting to convert an already used printer as the white ink lines need to be clean and not contaminated with previously used or different types of ink.

Which printer do you recommend for DTF conversion?

Ink Express recommend the Epson Ecotank A4 L805 or A3/A3+ L1800. These six colour Ecotank printers have been tested with DTF inks and perform well. This printer is well documented and has been used for DTF printing for many years. It is easy to convert and does not need any special parts.

Do you need specific software and why do I need it?

Yes, you will need to use RIP software. The software is an essential part of the DTF printing process. Raster Image Processing (RIP) software is a specialised print driver that allows you to have advanced control over the image and printing. The software has many capabilities. RIP software offers a variety of colour management controls and tools to ensure you have the best colour match and you can scale, resize, rotate, and invert images. It also handles the CMYK and white pigment ink allowing the printer to print in full colour with a white ink background. Ink Express use Acrorip as its easy to setup and simple to use. The software can be purchased from us in a DTF printer package or on its own.

What is the difference between DTF and DTG Printing?

Direct to Film (DTF) and Direct to Garment (DTG) printing similarly use digital inkjet technology to print their designs on substrates. The difference is that DTG prints directly onto the substrate, while DTF uses transfer films as a medium to transfer the design to the substrate. DTF printing’s main advantage comes from its cost-effectiveness. DTG requires a very expensive printer that is also quite bulky. DTF also uses less ink and therefore keeps your running costs lower.

Can I print on DTF film with DTG ink?

No, Direct to Film printing requires DTF pigment ink. Printing with DTG ink on DTF film will make the ink run and mix with white and CMYK.

Can I put DTF ink into a DTG printer?

Yes, you can print shirts on your DTG printer using DTF ink. However, It won’t work as well as specialised DTG ink and you will still need to pre-treat your garments.

Does DTF printing require much printer maintenance?

DTF printing requires similar maintenance to DTG, but not as often. The best form of maintenance is regular printing. If you print every 2 days, all you will need to do is shake the ink and run a printhead clean before printing to keep your printer in the best working condition. Just like other printers, prevention is better than cure. DTF printers are less maintenance than DTG printers as the ink does not clog up as frequently. The RIP software offers a cleaning feature, and we have a cleaning fluid should you need it.

What happens if I don’t print using my DTF printer for a long time?

Your DTF printer will clog up just like DTG or regular inkjet printers. If you plan on leaving your printer off for a few weeks or months we recommend flushing the lines, clean your printhead and leave it soaking in cleaning solution for a few days or weeks if you need to.

What is DTF washability like?

Washability is fine providing you use quality powder and follow correct application procedures. 40°C washing temperature is recommended.

What does the transferred design feel like on the garment?

The feel would depend on the type of powder you are using and the thickness of your ink layer. More ink will absorb more powder and make the overall result feel thicker. If you use a quality hot melt adhesive powder the transfers are durable, they wash well and are flexible – meaning they won’t crack or peel, making them great for heavy-use items such as workwear.

Is there any cutting or weeding involved in DTF?

DTF is different from using heat transfer vinyl because you don’t need to cut and weed your images, saving you both time and money.