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There's a bit to learn about DTF printers, DTF inks, DTF film and DTF powder.  

So let's get started with some help and guidance.       DTF is an acronym for Direct-To-Film.    There are some other uses..... but we won't get into that on this page :o)  

Direct To Film printing has totally revolutionised the heat transfer printing business by:

  • Reducing the labour cost (no cut lines, no weeding & no transfer film application)
  • Boosting production speed (some brands offer high speed printing)
  • Reducing consumable costs (consumable products for some brands are relatively inexpensive)

 

Mimaki TfX150 DTF printer

The DTF printer shown above is the Mimaki TxF150.   This very well know and respected Japanese brand was introduced into the US and European markets first and then introduced to the Australian market in late 2023.

How Does the DTF Process Differ From Print-And-Cut Vinyl?

DTF printing requires much less labour input to produce heat-press-ready transfers.

You simply load a print ready image into the RIP software then set the quantity required and start printing.

The DTF film has a special coating which helps to dry the water based DTF ink quickly so that the ink doesn't run and so that the colour layers dries quickly enough for the white layer to be printed on top without the colour and white ink bleeding into one another.

The printer has heated beds which also helps to dry the ink more quickly.    Now when I say dry, what in fact happens is that the ink is semi-dry as it leaves the printer.    This is really important because if the ink is too dry, the adhesive powder won't stick to the printed areas and then the logos won't adhere to the fabric.

OK so after printing the film passes into what is commonly called "the shaker".    The name comes from the action required to sprinkle fine adhesive powder onto the printed surface and then to move the powder around on the prints to make sure that there is good powder cover on all printed areas.

After the DTF powder has been applied, the film passes over a beater-bar, which beats the back of the film to shake off any powder that might remain on unprinted areas of film. 

More on DTF the printing process.

The printed film with adhesive powder passes into the heat chamber where two important things happen.

  1. The DTF ink is fully dried and cured for maximum stretch and wash-fastness
  2. The DTF powder is melted.\

As the finished film passes out from the heat chamber it is cooled and can either be cut off in sections for immediate use or for longer production runs, the film can be automatically re-wound onto a cardboard tube.

Last-but-not-least - the sheet is cut up into individual logos and applied to the garment or fabric using a heat press.

  • Pre-press the garment for 5 seconds to flatten and remove moisture
  • Place the logo and press for approx. 10 seconds at 160 deg. C
  • Peel the transfer film
  • Optional - re-press for 5 seconds

What kind of products can DTF heat transfers be used with?

  • Product must be able to withstand heat pressing at between 130 to 160 deg C
  • The products should have a porous surface like fabric or cardboard

Hard surface products and fabrics with water repellant coatings are not suitable for DTF.

How Does DTF Compare With DTG?

DTG printers are designed specifically for use on cotton garments like T shirts

DTG Printers like the Brother GTX Pro Pouch and GTX Pro Bulk are extremely easy to use and do an excellent job on cotton garments like T shirts.   No surprise - that's why so many custom T shirt print shops use the brother GTX.

DTG printers produce prints with some qualities and effects that cannot be reproduced with DTF.  That's because a DTG printers print ink directly onto fabric

  • Prints on white and very light coloured garments are very soft to touch.   Dark garments require a heavier layer of white ink, which tends to give the finished prints a little more of a hand.
  • Special effects like drop shadows and fade-outs like flames and smoke effects can be achieved easily with DTG printers
  • One-off prints are easy and relatively quick

DTF heat transfers have a wider field application but there are some limitations as compared to DTG

DTF heat transfer are similar to vinyl transfers in that the printed logo sits on the surface of the fabric and is adhered to the fabric by a heat activated adhesive.

DTF prints can be stretched and last very well in repeated wash & wear cycles.  They can also be used on multiple fabric types.

The benefits of DTF are:

  • No need for pre treatment of the garment prior to printing.
  • Prints can be used on a wider variety of fabric types and some non-fabric products like cardboard
  • Prints can be produced and stored for future orders and need only a 10 second heat press

 

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Embroidery Source
Melbourne Embroidery Showroom & Warehouse
205 Fulham Rd, Fairfield, VIC 3078
Melbourne Printing Showroom & Warehouse
37 Steane Street, Fairfield, VIC 3078
Tel: 1800 137 670
Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 8:30am - 5:00pm 
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