While DTF might be an acronym you’ve heard before but in a much different context, I promise this is just heat transfer printing for all apparel decorator lovers. But yes it’s different than heat transfer vinyl (htv) or direct-to-garment DTG printing. I’ll explain all that a bit later on. And I’ll also include some DTF printing videos to better showcase the process. So what is DTF printing? The new wave of t-shirt design.
WHAT IS DTF PRINTING?
DTF or direct-to-film printing uses top notch ink jet printers to print your custom t-shirt design on the film. Special textile inks are necessary here to be able to adhere to the fabric for long-lasting results. Most DTF transfers will have easy to follow manufacturer instructions for the printer but basically your image will print backwards. This is so that the design will be placed the right way once flipped onto your blank tee. Now there are a couple different dtf transfers to choose from. These are either hot or cold peels. This simply refers to whether or not you peel off the backing when it’s cooled or still hot off the press.
Make sure to read the instructions to determine the type of transfer you have acquired, which will either be a “cold peel” (meaning you peel the backing off of the freshly pressed design once it has cooled) or a “hot peel” (meaning you peel the backing off the freshly pressed design quickly after pressing). The heat locks the design to the fibers, transferring the ink from the film backing, to the fabric of the garment. Afterwards, you can cleanly remove the film and dispose of it. Your heat press or iron will bond the transfer to your basic apparel.
This is a great tutorial from Silhouette School with Melissa Viscount explaining DTF printing.
Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) vs. DTF
Heat transfers and htv or heat transfer vinyl has been an incredibly popular means of t-shirt printing for a long time now. But why switch to DTF printing? HTV is a great choice for novice apparel designers because it’s super easy especially with vinyl cutters like the very popular Cricut machine. Don’t get me wrong, htv is great but if you are planning on printing very detailed or intricate images you might run into some problems. You essentially have to “weed” the art image to achieve the desired detail. This can be tedious and difficult depending on the artwork. And if you want various colors you will have to layer the vinyl which can cause peeling over a short period of time. Whereas when using DTF transfers you are using a high-quality ink jet printer which can create exceptional multi-colored images that are longer lasting than htv.
Recommended Heat Presses
No doubt if you have looked into buying a heat press you will notice a very wide range of prices. Expensive is not always better but when starting your own clothing line you will need a good one. The Cricut easy press is great if you are just starting out and don’t have bulk orders yet. But once you are trying to expand and level up your apparel business I would opt for at least the F2C which is readily available on Amazon and other retailers. But an even better one, but pricier, would be something like the Stahl’s Hotronix. When choosing the right heat press you need to consider the temperature ranges, pressure, types of material you will be using, and the colors of your business logo or design. Don’t be discouraged if your prints don’t come out well at first. You might have to experiment with different types of garments, inks, and heat presses until you find what works for your brand. But this is all part of the creative process don’t worry.
Best Places To Get DTF Transfers
Now let’s move on to obtaining the actual DTF transfers. You have a couple options. There’s many online sites that sell pre-made DTF transfers including Etsy. But if you want to customize and print your own I recommend a site like Kingdom DTF or DTF Superstore for a high-quality DTF transfer printer.
Check out this great tutorial from BestSub Sublimation.
Honestly with a DTF transfer printer you can apply these to almost any blank apparel garment you might need. Whether it’s 100% cotton, 100% polyester, rayon, triblends, nylon, blends etc., your options are almost limitless. But I would love to offer some high-qulaity recommendations for blank t-shirts and blank hoodies that work exceptionally well with DTF transfer printing.
If you need more tips on DTF transfers please comment below. We at Bulk Apparel wholesaler pride ourselves on not only exceptional products but also exceptional customer service. We want to help you and your small business thrive and become a not so small business. Hope you enjoyed my what is DTF printing? The new wave of t-shirt design blog.