MAKING DTF TRANSFERS as a Small Business

Printers have come a long way from only a basic black-and-white functionality option to being able to print complex, colorful designs. And the fantastic bit is that you can now transfer these spectacular designs onto a range of materials, from cups and T-shirts to key chains and mats.

This brings us to the concept of DTF transfers – an incredible printing technology and exciting addition to the much sought-after inkjet garment decoration process. In a few simple steps, even amateurs can make some stunning transfers without any hassles.

What is a DTF print transfer?

DTF, or Direct to Film Printing, is an exceptional printing technology that enables you to transfer stunning designs onto special films. The films are then used to transfer the designs onto garments using a unique adhesive. It is a heat transfer procedure with the ability to sustain as long as traditional silkscreen prints.

The transfers are made using a digital inkjet process, eliminating the need for pre-treatment. You do not need to fret about the number of colors or the set-up time either. 

A specific type of water-based printing ink is used to print a film transfer which is then left to dry. Next, powdered glue is applied to its back and then heat-cured, which you can either store for later or use immediately.

Quick steps to make DTF print transfers

One of the highlights of this type of printing process is that it is suitable for all kinds of fabric. With ease, you can use it on polyester, silk, cotton, or synthetic materials such as terrycloth or rayon. And since it is a heat transfer process, you will need a heat press and a quality printer to get the job done.

The following are the working steps involved in making such types of print transfers onto various fabrics.

Step 1: Create your image

The very first step in the print process is to create a unique image. You can also draw inspiration from popular art and make a custom design that no one has seen before.

Step 2: Send it directly to your printer

Once you have the design in your hand, you must send it to your printer so that it can be printed on film. Remember to use PET film and not ordinary paper. 

First, use the appropriate color settings in the machine to print the design onto the film entirely in white. Then you can change the color settings and print different shades on top of the white layer.

Step 3: Apply Hot Melt and Shake

The powder is typically melted in a curing oven. But in the absence of one, you can place the film in a heat press, allowing the top to come close but without actually touching it. Then, the design is transferred to the garment from the film.

Step 4: Dry

Hot melt powder acts as the binder, ensuring the ink is firmly planted onto the fabric fibers. So, always allow the film to dry and cool down before peeling it off. 

What kind of printer to use?

To truly enjoy the process of seamless DTF printing, you will need a DTF printer. However, there are a variety of these printer models, and you should pick one after careful consideration. For instance, consider the fact that machines differ mainly on the size of transfers, speed of printing, and the level of automatic functioning.

Most DTF printing machines are modified versions of Epson inkjet printers and work with six colors. But while this may be a plus point, there may be drawbacks to the machines as well. Firstly, you may need to manually apply the hot melt powder after you have printed it onto the film, which can be a waste of time, especially if you are dealing with higher volumes. 

Also, modifying the Epson printer will void its warranty, so you may not be able to get adequate technical support when you need it. 

Finally, such printers are not ideal for high-volume printing due to their slow speed – they can print about one sheet at a time. 

High-volume DTF printer 

For a higher volume printer, you can consider one like the Digital Heat FX 24H2. It is a large machine that brilliantly prints on 24” rolls of translucent PET film that allows you to see the design underneath when you heat-press it on garments. The PET film is an excellent component because its thickness of approximately 0.77mm enables pro-transfer characteristics.

Reasons such transfers are the best in the market

There are many reasons why DTF transfers are among the most preferred and best ones in recent types. Some of the critical ones are listed below.

  • They are super-easy to use and maintain

It takes a mere fifteen seconds of heat press to apply the print, and even amateurs can quickly learn to do it. Moreover, since most DTF printers don’t need to work in tight spaces, maintenance is that much easier.

  • They can be done on any fabric

One of the primary reasons most entrepreneurs prefer these types of transfers is because they are incredibly versatile. They can be done on polyester, cotton, treated leather, nylon, blended materials, and more.

  • You can transfer them onto T-shirts or sell them to someone else who can

Many people make custom designs to sell on a large scale for a considerable profit. But if you do not wish to make the film transfer yourself, you can always sell them to someone else for a fair price. 

  • They can last through multiple washes

An amazing thing about DTF prints is that they withstand several washes comfortably, just like screen printing. You will be able to enjoy wearing your DTF-printed T-shirt for a reasonable amount of time before having to replace it.

  • They do not fade or crack due to the wash

These types of prints are very solid and will rarely fade or develop cracks as a result of washing. The garment may become older and fade over time, but the print will remain for considerably longer on the material.

  • No color restrictions

DTF printing can be done on both light and dark-colored clothes with the same amount of effort. Several people use them to make innovative designs apt for athleisure and sportswear.

Besides the incredible reasons mentioned above, one of the top things that makes DTF print transfer highly sought-after is its affordability. A minimum upfront investment will allow you to create at least a hundred pieces on order a day. This way, you can make back your initial investment and start enjoying the profits in no time.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.