Is DTF Ink the Same as DTG Ink?

The abbreviations DTF and DTG are very similar, and both techniques use an inkjet printer with white ink. How are they different?

  1. The investment: DTF printing requires a very low investment compared to the cost of a DTG printer. A DTF kit costs almost one-tenth of the price of a DTG printer.
  2. Production time: DTF printing starts by printing a design on a film. You must then add DTF powder to it. The printed film will then have to be cured, and the design transferred from the film to the fabric. With DTG printing, the printer prints directly onto the garment, which reduces production time significantly compared to DTF printing.
  3. Print touch and finish: DTF has a slightly “plastic” finish, very similar to HTV or screen print transfers. However, the inks are very elastic, which prevents the print from cracking when the garment is stretched. With DTG printing, the ink is completely absorbed into the garment, resulting in a much finer finish and better integration with the fabric.
  4. White intensity and purity: in this case, DTG printing produces a purer and more intense white. In the case of DTF, white isn’t as pure and intense.
  5. Consumable costs: both techniques have low production costs. Although it may seem that DTF printing is more expensive because it uses more supplies in the printing process, the final cost of a T-shirt printed with this technique is slightly lower than that of a T-shirt printed using DTG printing.

DTG use white ink, we can choose to use a white mask as a substrate to ensure that the ink does not mix with the color of the media, although this is not always necessary (for example on a white substrate) and it is also possible to place white only in certain areas in order to reduce the use of this mask. DTF printing needs a layer of white ink is required, placed on top of the color layer. This is the one that is transferred to the fabric and used as the basis for the main color of the design. both technologies require a considerable amount of white ink to print, but using good software, it is possible to control the white layer applied in DTG, depending on the base color and thus greatly reducing costs.

DTF ink printing seems to be more popular than DTG, but in reality, they have very different applications and uses. For small-scale printing, where you are looking for good color results and don’t want to make such a large investment, DTF ink may be more suitable. But DTG now has more versatile and diverse presses with different plates and processes, allowing for faster, more flexible printing.  

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