DTF vs DTG: Which is the best alternative?
Since now, Direct-to-Garment (DTG) has been the main procedure used for printing T-shirts and small productions, but in recent months Direct-to-film or Film-to-Garment (DTF) has generated interest in the industry, gaining more and more followers. To understand this paradigm shift, we must know what the differences are between one method and the other.
Both types of printing are suitable for small items or personalization, such as T-shirts or masks. However, the results and printing process are different in both cases, so it can be difficult to decide which to choose for a business.
- Needs pretreatment: In the case of DTG, the process begins with pretreatment of the garments. This step is necessary before printing, as we will be working directly on the fabric and this will allow the ink to set well and prevent it from transferring through the fabric. In addition, we will have to iron the garment before printing to activate this treatment.
- Printing Direct to Garment: With DTG you are printing Direct to Garment, so the process can be shorter than DTF, you do not need to transfer.
- Using white ink: We have the option of putting a white mask as a base, to ensure that the ink does not mix with the color of the support, although it is not always necessary (for example in white bases) and it is also possible to reduce the use of this mask, putting white only in some areas.
- Printing on cotton: With this type of printing we can only print on cotton.
- Final pressing: To fix the ink, we must do a final pressing at the end of the process and we will have our garment ready.
- No pre-treatment necessary: In DTF printing, as it is pre-printed on a film, which will have to be transferred, it is not necessary to pre-treat the fabric.
- Printing on film: In DTF we print on a film and then the design has to be transferred to the fabric. This can make the process a bit longer compared to DTG.
- Adhesive powder: This type of printing will require the use of an adhesive powder, which will be used right after printing the ink on the film. In printers created specifically for DTF this step is included in the printer itself, so any manual step is avoided.
- Use of white ink: In this case, it is necessary to use a layer of white ink, which is placed on top of the color layer. This is the one that is transferred to the fabric and serves as a base for the main colors of the design.
- Any type of fabric: One of the advantages of DTF is that it allows working with any type of fabric, not only cotton.
- Film-to-fabric transfer: The last step in the process is to take the printed film and transfer it to the fabric with a press.
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Considerations when deciding which print to choose
- The material of our prints: As mentioned above, DTG can only be printed on cotton, while DTF can be printed on many other materials.
- The production volume: Currently, DTG machines are much more versatile and allow a larger and faster production than DTF. That is why it is important to be clear about the production needs of each company.
- The result: The final result of one printing and the other is very different. While in DTG the pattern and inks are integrated with the fabric and the feel is rougher, like the base itself, in DTF the fixing powder makes it feel more plastic, shinier and less integrated with the fabric. However, this also gives a feeling of higher quality in the colors, as they are pure, the base color does not intervene.
- Use of white: A priori, both techniques need quite a lot of white ink to print, but with the use of a good Rip software, it is possible to control the layer of white that is applied in DTG, depending on the base color and thus reduce costs considerably.
- In short, DTF printing appears to be gaining ground over DTG, but in reality they have very different applications and uses. For small-scale printing, where you are looking for good color results and don’t want to make such a large investment, DTF may be more suitable. But the DTG now has more versatile printing presses, with different plates and processes, which allow faster and more flexible printing.