If you are an avid crafter or a shirt decorator, you have probably stumbled across a post or video about DTF printing.
What is DTF printing? DTGPro explains it like this..."DTF is also referred to as Direct Transfer Film, and it works by printing transfers that are heat pressed to a variety of garments (and other substrates). There are many compatible fabrics including cotton, nylon, leather, polyester, and 50/50 blends. This is unlike DTG technology which only works on cotton fabrics. This therefore means that this printer works on a much wider substrate, making it the most versatile digital printer in the market. DTF printers work on both white and dark garments and can get the job done without requiring you to press on costly A+B paper, as is the case with the white toner printers.
Direct Transfer Film printers also combine reliability, unmatched quality and high productivity. They can handle large production volumes, which is essential in this fast-growing industry. Unlike DTG technology, DTF printers are preferred by most people because they are affordable and require no pre-treatment. For quality results, you will need DTF powder and DTF sheets to print transfer film, and of course, DTF Ink.
Another advantage of DTF printing over traditional printing is that it is highly sustainable. There is no question that the fashion industry is increasingly focusing on sustainability."
But...Is DTF right for you? Let's take a look at what it takes to get into DTF printing.
To help you understand the cost, I'm going to share what I paid, which is the very low end of the cost to start DTF printing.
- Printer that has been or can be converted for DTF printing. (list of printers)
- Rip software for printing. (for more info, google rip software)
- DTF Ink
- Refillable ink cartridges and syringes
- PET film to print on
- Adhesive powder
- Heat source to cure adhesive powder
- Heatpress to press finished transfer onto garment.
*Printer...I purchased an Epson Artisan 1430 on ebay for $193.50 with shipping.
*RIP software....I purchased AcroRIP 9. It's an older version, but newer printers will need the newer version of AcroRIP 10. I paid $99. You can purchase it for $85 from McLaud Technology. (And the computer to load the software onto, which I am assuming you already have)
*DTF inks, film and powder....I purchased the starter bundle from DTFsuperstore for $225 with shipping.
*Refillable cartridges for the DTF ink...I purchased 2 sets of 6 from ebay for $47.90. I also bought 6 syringes with long needles from Amazon for $6.99
*Heat source for curing...I tried the hover method on my heatpress, but it didn't work for me. My heatpress is cheap and has cold spots. I spent $21.25 at Walmart.com for a Wagner Furno 300 Heat Tool. It has worked very nicely.
*Heatpress...I have had my heatpress for several years. I bought it on ebay for about $180 I think. New ones are selling for around that price now. The smallest you really want to go is 15x15.
So...for the grand total of $773.64($593.64 if you already have a heatpress), I have a printer and the needed software and supplies to print full color DTF transfers. No matter the size, the color or the quanity, I have what I need. No weeding and no additional inventory. However, keep in mind, I went the cheapest route I could. Your costs may be higher based on availablity of products due to increasing demand.
What are the drawbacks? Well, the Artisan 1430 is very big. Any printer you find that will print large format is going to be big. You are taking a chance when you convert that it's not going to work. My printer is older and used. Who knows how long it will last. Once you introduce non-oem ink into the printer, you void the warranty. There are modification that need to be made to the printer to avoid "pizza cutter" lines through your prints. Once you convert to DTF, there may be no going back to regular printing.
What are the positives? Well, as I mentioned above, no additional inventory, like heat transfer vinyl. There is no substate limitation. What does that mean? You can press it on practically any material. Cotton? Yes. Canvas? Yes. Polyester? Yes. Blends? Yes. Did I mention no weeding?!?! Which allows for some very small designs! Check out these shoes I did!
The emblem on the back of the shoe is 1.5" tall and very detailed. Imagine trying to layer that? I know it can be done, but the time it takes to weed and layer has just been cut down by at least 75%.
Finally, durability. I have done a few practice shirts, that I continue to toss into the washer and dryer with each new load. After at least 10 full cycles, I have not seen any deterioration of the transfers so far. I have not been turning the shirts inside out as recommended and I am putting them in the dryer on low heat, which is my normal. Hang drying is suggested.
So, what is the conclusion? Well, you'll have to decide for yourself if DTF is the future for you. Maybe you would like to try it out before you go all in! If that's the case, contact me for a great deal on a DTF transfer to try!