The textile industry has been growing rapidly in recent times, and many have started to opt for digital textile printing over screen printing. The use of digital printers provides ease, simplicity and, most importantly, a huge variety of colours on textiles, especially for small print runs of 10 or more per design.

Within digital printing there are several techniques:

  • Textile Sublimation
  • DTG (Digital Direct Printing)
  • DTF (Direct to Film)

In this article we will discuss DTF and its advantages and disadvantages compared to DTG, the star technique in the world of full-colour digital printing.

What is DTF?

As its name suggests, it is full colour printing on a sheet of film which is then applied to the fabric by heat transfer. It is a relatively new technique which is gaining ground within digital textile printing because it can be applied on any surface: cotton, polyester, blended fabrics, among others.

We highly recommend it for companies that want a durable print with good visibility on their uniforms. Also for clothing brands that need the versatility of vinyl or transfer, but with the durability of screen printing.

The feel is very similar to transfer or vinyl printing, but the advantage is that you don’t have to ‘chop’ the excess material, and it has better durability and rebound.

DTF Printing Steps

1. Printing on Film

In this step, instead of printing directly onto the garment, the printer prints onto a PET film. First the mirror print of the design is made and then another layer of white is printed on top.

2. Powdering

In this step, the hot-melt powder is applied to the printing film on the white side. It is applied to the film while the print is still wet. Once this step is finished, the excess powder must be removed from the film.

3. Melt the Powder

There are several ways to melt the powder. The most common is by using a curing oven, which should be at a temperature of 160 to 180 degrees Celsius. Depending on the equipment used to heat the powder this process can take between 2 to 5 minutes.

4. Pre-Press

This process helps the fabric to be well prepared for the transfer of the design, smoothes the fabric and ensures dehumidification, the process usually takes between 2 to 5 seconds.

5. Transfer

This is the most important step in DTF printing. This is where the film is transferred to the garment. First the film with the design is laid on the pre-pressed fabric inside the heat press to achieve a strong pressure so that the design is transferred correctly. This process is called “curing” and takes about 15 to 20 seconds at a temperature of 160 to 180 degrees Celsius.

6. Separate

It is very important to allow the fabric and film to cool to room temperature before separating and removing the film. Here it is important to check that the quality of the pattern, framing and adhesion to the fabric are optimal before proceeding with the rest.

7. Post-Press

This step is optional but gives a better finish and durability to the print. Basically it is to perform a second final pressing on the print and the fabric for about 10 to 15 seconds. A thin kraft paper should be used to ensure that the print is not damaged.

Advantages of DTF

  • No pre-treatment required on the garment
  • Colourful, saturated designs and unlimited colours
  • Application on cotton, polyester, blended fabrics and more
  • Versatility in printing position and placement of the design in difficult locations.
  • Pure, solid colour printing compared to DTG. Sharper white.
  • Pure, solid colour printing compared to DTG. Sharper white.
  • High level of detail
  • The best result on complicated garments such as sweatshirts, technical T-shirts, etc.

Disadvantages of DTF

  • Soft touch but can feel like soft plastic on the fabric.
  • It is not possible to make gradients to the garment colour. It is possible to work with dot weft
  • DTG can be more pleasant to the touch
  • Longer production time, therefore more expensive than DTG

Our Range Of T Shirt Printing Techniques

We use a complete range of t shirt printing and clothing embroidery techniques. We do everything from t shirt screen printing, vinyl print, heat pressed shirts, DTG printing, t shirt transfers, 3d print t shirt, embroidered t shirts, direct garment printing, sublimation t shirt printing and more. Our team has made sure that no matter what your t shirt printing or graphic design t shirt requirements are, we can meet them.


Direct to Garment Printing

Dye Sublimation

CAD Cut Vinyl Printing

Transfer Printing