A Guide to Direct to Film Printers


In the fashion industry, the only thing which has never gone out of style is printed T-shirts. Many people love to wear printed t-shirts so that they can express their opinion and personality more visually. Moreover, custom printed T-shirts are a popular fashion choice among Gen Z, wherein they get prints of their favorite band, album covers, slogan, superheroes, and much more.

Besides being loved by the fast fashion industry, many companies also print their custom t-shirts and caps for their employees to wear. This helps promote brand awareness and is a potent marketing strategy.

To meet the rising demand for custom printed apparel, the printing industry has undergone a technological revolution. Now a high volume direct to film printer can produce a much better output than the regular direct-to-garment printers more effectively.

Using a DTF printer, one can print on any garment of their choice and produce a wide color gamut with only ten seconds of press time.

Features of a Direct-to-film Printer

  • High-quality printhead

A high-quality printhead produces multiple layers of color prints on a garment for a more clear look. A printer with a dual printhead can lay down the CMYK color palette and the white colors separately. CMYK colors refer to a subtractive model for a layman that includes the primary RGB colors and Cayan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (black).

In a dual printhead setup, the printer first lays the CMYK colors, wherein the white colors are laid down afterward to match the print’s alignment and prevent any white color from peeking out.

Since the alignment of the white color palette is made on a film instead of the fabric directly, it creates an accurate design without any wrinkles.

This is so much better than regular screen printing and DTG printers, as in those printers, the print is laid on the fabric directly, which may cause an inaccurate print.

  • Print optimizer software

DTF printers come with proprietary software that can be installed on any PC and give you full control over the printing process and the design layout on the fabric. One can even blend colors and use unique colors by putting in a hex code.

Besides controlling the fabric’s design layout and placement, you can even control the ink flow.

So, if you wish to print multiple colors, you can increase the ink flow, whereas if you are only printing a single color, you can restrict the ink flow.

The ability to control the ink flow helps prevent any wastage of ink and prints more vibrant colors by using minimal ink.

  • Application of Adhesive

Unlike regular screen prints that are rough to the touch, DTF prints are exceptionally smooth and feather-soft. The ability of DTF printers to apply powder adhesive coating enables the print to be smooth as butter compared to the basic thick transfer films or vinyl prints.

In addition, the process is straightforward as it only involves two components, the ink and special coating of powder adhesive. The powdered adhesive is designed to stick to moisture, so it chemically bonds with the ink on the fabric.

It is safe to say that DTF printers are a boon for the custom-printed clothing industry.

Advantages of using DTF printers

  • You can increase your overall production output with a high volume direct-to-film printer as it is a much faster machine than normal DTG printers.
  • DTF printers can print on any type of surface, so even if you have a cotton T-shirt or a canvas material, you can print the design of your choice on them.
  • The double printhead technology helps produce more vibrant colors and crisp designs, owing to separate printheads. There are separate white ink channels that allow for better ink control.
  • The print is highly durable and lasts for a long time.
  • With its unique features, a DTF printer can produce HDR and beautiful gradient prints.
  • The DTF printer software allows the user a greater degree of control over the designs, layout, color selection, and ink flow.
  • The printer uses ink glycol-based water inks that are runnier, which causes fewer clogs in the printer head.
  • It is easier to find replacement parts for DTF printers, and since the printers are larger, they are easier to open up and clean.
  • No fabric pretreatment is required when using such printers. On the other hand, you need to treat the fabric while using the traditional DTG printing method. This eliminates a step from the whole manufacturing process and increases the production capacity.

How does it work?

Here are some of the key steps of transferring images from a printer to the fabric of your choice.

  • Preparation of the print design

A good printer comes with its own raster image processor or commonly known as RIP software. The software will help to optimize and control the ink flow and other metrics to get the desired print.

  • Print the design

After the design is finalized and processed in the RIP software, it will then be printed onto a PET film.

  • Adding the adhesive powder

After printing the design on a PET film, the user needs to apply a special adhesive powder. Many high-quality DTF printers have automated this process, but you might need to apply the adhesive powder manually if you have an old version.

  • Apply heat

After applying the powder, the user must transfer the PET film print and the fabric to a heat press.

  • Remove transfer

Herein, you need to remove the white transfer film by peeling it off the fabric.

Fabrics that are compatible with DTF printers

  • Different types of cotton, such as spun cotton, combed cotton, and organic cotton, are compatible with DTF printers.
  • You can print on wrinkle-free material like polyester as well.
  • Blended fabrics are also compatible with DTF printers.
  • Fabric for sportswear such as Polyester-spandex can also be printed-on.

A high volume direct-to-film printer can change the way the merchandise is printed and produced. The printing method streamlines the process by eliminating some steps in the assembly and printing process. Using such printers, one can make custom T-shirts, Polos, Backpacks, Aprons, and a lot more and give you cost and time-effective results.

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