DTF | Direct to Film

Direct-to-film printers create designs with bright colors and clear patterns, which end up looking similar to a traditional screen-printed shirt. The shirts have a nice texture, and the ink can generally hold up well on all kinds of fabrics.

Direct to Film printing, or DTF, is an emerging technology that allows users to print their custom t-shirt designs onto special films. It’s a unique process that lets you combine the best of digital inkjet printing and transfer printing. 

Considering how competitive the T-shirt market is today, customers are looking for bright, vibrant prints that “pop” and look great on all sorts of fabrics. Direct to Film does that and more.

Direct to Film Printers – The Advantages

DTF or Direct to Film also eliminates the need for the pre-treatment step that is one of the downsides to DTG printing.  No pre-treatment means you can simply grab a garment from the rack and throw it on the heat press with any number of pre-printed designs.


Direct-to-film printing is accomplished by using a direct-to-film printer on a special transfer paper.  Once you run the pattern or design through your printer, you will then coat the print with a unique hot melt adhesive powder on the back of the pattern of the printing film.  The last step is to put the fabric into the heat press for pressing.

The direct-to-film printer is controlled by specialized software that allows you to control each layer of the print, and the print is done in reverse. The fine adhesive powder is very clean and fast to apply.

Direct-to-film printing can also be printed clearly for tiny craft lines and small letters.  Direct to film printing also means you don’t have to worry about chromatic aberration and colorfastness. The ink, once cured, is locked in color and so you don’t have to worry about it changing color over time. The patterns and text printed by the direct to film printer are very clear, and the hot stamping prevents fibrillation that sometimes happens with traditional methods.

DTF (which is also referred to as Direct Transfer Film) works with all sorts of compatible fabrics. This includes cotton, leather, nylon, polyester, and tri-blends or 50/50. DTG technology traditionally works on cotton fabrics whereas DTF Printers work on a much wider substrate set, making them one of the most versatile digital printers in the market. You can print and transfer onto all sorts of colors of garments. All without requiring you to heat press on the costly A or B papers as in the case with white toner printers. This also cuts out a second step compared to other methods.

Direct Transfer Film printers combine reliability, quality, and high productivity. They can handle large production volumes, which is essential in this fast-growing industry.  For quality results, you will need DTF powder and DTF sheets to print transfer film, and of course, DTF Ink.

There is no question that the market, and especially the fashion industry, is focused on sustainability. Reducing the pre-treatment step is better for the environment, and by reducing overspray associated with other methods, purchasing a direct-to-film printer is something most t-shirt companies and clients will want to consider.

Direct to Film Education