DTF vs DTG – Direct to Film Transfers vs Direct to Garment

In the world of custom apparel, there are companies and manufacturers constantly on the hunt for innovative ways to provide higher quality service and results by speeding up production and reducing costs. Digital printing is one such technology. This is composed of Direct to Garment (DTG) Printing and Direct to Film (DTF) Transfer. (Graphic Impact has made certain improvements to DTF and this is known as Digital Fusion.)

When it comes to Direct to Film vs. Direct to Garment, DTG has been the “go to” digital process for some time. However, DTF is rising in popularity and has become highly recommended by those within the industry.

So, which is better, DTG or DTF? 

In this article we define each of these processes and highlight the differences between them and explore all aspects of DTF vs DTG.

What is Direct to Garment?

Direct to Garment (DTG) printing is the use of a specialized digital printer to directly apply a digital design to fabric. DTG is often out sourced by screen printers that have smaller jobs or customized orders for a smaller total number of garments. 

What is direct to film?

Direct to Film (DTF) is a print process that allows users to print their design/artwork on a proprietary transfer film. Once this step is finished, the films are transferred directly onto a fabric or any other print substrate.  The only parts of the film that are transferred are those that have been printed with a special ink.

What Makes Direct to Film Different From Direct To Garment?

Even though there are some technical differences between these two print methods, we want to highlight the most significant areas of interest and those that have the most significant impact on choosing between DTF and DTG. 

DTF Ink is Different than DTG Ink

DTG ink is quite expensive, including white ink, the under base of printing on black garments. DTF inks use less ink than DTG printers (including white ink), so inks for this print method are much more affordable, so there may be cost savings for our clients.

DTF is a Faster Production Process

DTF printing allows you to print multiple designs on a single transfer film, reducing production times by a significant amount. On the other hand, DTG printing is slower due to printing designs line by line.

DTF is Good for All Materials

When printing on various substrates, DTF can be used on almost all materials. In general, DTG is generally an ideal choice for printing on cotton-based garments and cannot print on areas of the garment such as the collar or cuff of the sleeves.

Is Direct To Garment Actually Different From Direct to Film?

Both processes can produce a similar product, but there are some  differences between DTF vs. DTG. We have put together a list of three areas of differentiation you should know when it comes to making a decision on how you want your products to be produced.

DTG is better for Smaller Quantity Orders

DTG printing is the ideal choice for small-scale orders that are customized using multiple colors and complex designs. While DTG does not scale well with larger orders, DTF printing is a good choice for larger order sizes. 

DTG is Considered to be Slightly Softer to the Touch

DTG printing is viewed as creating prints that are softer compared to other methods while also printing at faster speeds without any loss in quality.

DTG is Better for Intricate Designs

A design that is complex or intricate in nature is best printed using DTG and this includes designs that have multiple colors, shading, and a variety of gradients. DTF printing tends to distort or damage designs with fine lines while DTG places the fine lines directly onto the substrate.

We’ve highlighted what we think to be some of the most significant differences between Direct to Film and Direct to Garment, but the truth is that based on your specific need the choice of whether you use DTG or DTF is going to be determined by those factors. Let us know what you think. Are you trying to decide between which process to use? Let us know and we can help. 

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Phone: 520-795-7446

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