DTF Printing vs. DTG Printing: Let’s Compare
When it comes to garment printing, DTF and DTG are two popular choices. Consequently, some newbies get confused about which option they should choose.
If you are one of them, read this DTF Printing vs. DTG Printing post till the end. We will do a comprehensive analysis of both printing techniques considering different aspects.
After going through this post, you can choose the best printing procedure based on your requirements. Let us first learn the basics of these two printing technologies.
DTG Printing Overview
DTG or Direct-to-garment printing enables people to print straight onto a substrate. The technology was introduced in the 1990s. However, people started using it commercially in 2015.
DTG printing applies ink straight onto the textile that goes into the fiber. DTG printing is carried out in the same manner as printing a document on a desktop printer.
First, you prepare the design on your computer with the help of software. Thereafter, a RIP (Raster Image Processor) software program translates the design image into a set of instructions a DTG printer can understand. The printer uses these instructions to print the image on the textile.
In DTG printing, the garment is pretreated with a unique solution before printing. It ensures bright colors while preventing ink absorption into the clothing. After pretreatment, the garment gets dried using a heat press.
After that, that garment is placed onto the plate of the printer. Once the operator gives the command, the printer starts printing using its controlled print heads.
At last, the printed garment is heated once again with a heat press or drawer heater to cure the ink.
DTF Printing Overview
DTF or Direct-to-Film is a revolutionary printing technology, introduced in 2020. It helps people print a design onto a film and then transfer it to garments. The printed cloth could be cotton, polyester, blended material, and more.
DTF printing comprises the following steps:
Preparing a design
First, you prepare a design on a computer system with the help of software like Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.
Printing Design onto the PET Film
The built-in RIIN software of the DTF printer translates the design file onto PRN files. It helps the printer to read the file and print the design onto the (polyethylene terephthalate) PET film.
The printer prints the design with a white layer, helping it to be more noticeable on t-shirts.
Transferring the print onto the garment
Before transferring the print, the pet film is powdered and heated. This process helps the design adhere to the garment. Next, the pet film is placed on the garment and then heat-pressed for about 15 to 20 seconds. As soon as the cloth is cool, the PET film is peeled off gently.
DTF Printing vs. DTG Printing: Comparison As Per Different Aspects
For some people, especially newbies, the startup cost might be the main determining factor. Compared to the DTF printer, the DTG printer is more costly. In addition, you will need a pre-treatment solution and a heat press.
To accommodate bulk orders, you will also need a pre-treatment machine and drawer heater or tunnel heater.
On the contrary, DTF printing involves the use of PET films, a powder shaking machine, a DTF printer, and a heat press. The cost of a DTF printer is lower than that of a DTG printer.
So in terms of startup cost, DTG printing is expensive.
Cost of Ink
The ink used in direct-to-garment printing is comparatively expensive. The price for white ink is higher than others’ inks. And in DTG printing, white ink is used as a base to print on black textiles.
On the contrary, DTF inks are cheaper. DTF printers utilize around half of the white ink as DTG printers do.
Time of Production
DTG printing is flexible and ensures quick output when you make samples. The process for DTG printing starts with creating a design on a computer with the help of software like Photoshop, illustrator, etc. Thereafter, the garment is prepared for printing by spraying a pretreatment solution. Once the cloth is pretreated, it is put into the printing platform of the printer to initiate the printing process. After the printing command, the machine starts printing. Once the garment is printed, it is cured with a heat press at 150-160°C for about 2 mins. So it’s like to have finished the DTG sample within 5mins. (1min for pretreat+ 1m~2min for printing+ 2min heat press)
The DTF printing process involves inserting the PET film roll into the printer tray to print the design on the film. After that, hot melt powder is applied to the film using a powder shaking machine. Subsequently, the powder is cured in the curing oven. Next, the operator cuts the essential part of the film from the roll required for printing. To run a whole process for DTF will take 15mins or more time. Cuz it has to run from the printer to powder shaking machine. Small printer & big printer has different length for processing in powder shaking. So the operator needs to wait till it’s ready for a roll-up.
Quality of Prints
DTG printing is known for generating prints having a better hand feel. The DTG printer prints high-quality designs at a decent speed. It is easy to print complex designs with multiple colors.
Moreover, the printed garments remain breathable as inks do not clog up the garment fibers.
Direct-to-film printing gives a plastic-like feel when you touch the print. It happens because the design is printed on a PET film and then heat-pressed onto the garments.
DTG printing is suitable for cotton and certain cotton-blend textiles, such as hemp and canvas. The printing method uses pigment ink which is quite stable water-based ink. It is suitable for cotton textiles having low stretchability.
DTF printing allows you to print on silk, nylon, polyester, and more. You can even print specific parts of your garments made of different materials, such as collars, cuffs, etc.
Washability and stretchability are two primary factors that decide the durability of the print.
DTG printing is direct printing on the garment. If DTG prints are properly pretreated, they can last up to 50 washes easily.
DTF prints, on the other hand, are good at stretchability. They do not tear apart and get stretch marks easily. After all, DTF prints are affixed to a cloth using a melting adhesive.
If you stretch DTF prints, they return to their shape again. Their washing performance is slightly better than DTG printing.
Both DTG and DTF printers are easy to maintain. Regular cleaning and maintenance ensure good print quality and performance. Operators are advised to clean the nozzles of the ink system frequently to prevent clogging. Also, keep the circulation system turned on when using the printer.
If you are working with the right supplier, you can easily tackle issues related to maintenance.
Which Printing Method Should You Opt for?
Both printing methods are excellent in different ways. The choice depends on your business. If you get small printing orders for cotton textiles with complex designs, DTG printing is ideal for you. On the other hand, if you accommodate medium-to-large printing orders for multiple textile types, DTF printing is worth investing in.