How Long Do DTF Transfers Last?
The newest and most popular trend in decorated apparel is direct to film (DTF) printing, a transfer technology that allows users to print designs onto polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film using water-based pigment inks. Since it is a transfer technology, the design is printed in reverse order compared to traditional digital printing. The CMYK colors are printed first, followed by the white ink; the image is reversed so that its orientation is mirrored. The wet ink is powdered with a hot-melt adhesive and then cured. Once cured, the image can be transferred to an apparel item using a heat press.
So why has DTF boomed? When compared to direct-to-garment (DTG) printing, DTF offers the ability to avoid fabric pre-treatment, which is often required when printing with DTG. DTF will also work on fabrics like polyester and nylon, which are often difficult (if not impossible) for DTG. There is a much lower learning curve for printing DTF transfers compared to DTG. When compared with dye-sublimation, DTF offers the user an ability to decorate a wider range of fabrics and fabric colors. Not to mention DTF is more cost efficient compared to other transfer technologies like heat-transfer vinyl, as there is no cutting and weeding with DTF, saving time.
As with other digital print technologies, DTF is great for full-color, photorealistic images. Color is only limited by the gamut of the inks being used. Special RIP software is also needed to create a white print layer and to mirror the image so the transfer prints in the correct orientation.
in just over two years, DTF has emerged as an all-for-one technology. It provides the ability to decorate a wide range of fabrics, does not require fabric pre-treatment, is durable with great elasticity and stretchability, and is a cheaper and faster alternative in many cases.
This year, digital decorators will have many options on the table when it comes to decorating technologies. Expect the market to be a bit disorganized in the beginning. By the second half of 2022, however, we should see several large players enter this market and bring reliability and structure to the DTF product category.
DTF printing is perfect for anyone looking to include T-shirt personalization, or any other textile product (cushion covers, masks, bags, sweatshirts, etc.) into their cotton or polyester business (and their blends of any colour), with a low starting investment.
If you’re already familiar with dye-sublimation printing, DTF is the perfect complementary technique to increase your performance and make your business even more profitable.