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What's DTF?


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Okay, I know what DTF is. 

But is it new? Or is it old, just resurfacing now? And why now? What has changed? 

It seems like everyone is comparing DTG with DTF. Boy, I would really like to get rid of our HTV (heat transfers). What are your thoughts about replacing HTV with DTF? 

It sounds like DTF can print on any garment fabric. And it's better than HTV since I can print small details and not worry about weeding..

 

Yes, the powder is annoying, but we also do screen printing so we have a conveyor dryer to help out. 

Should I be seriously considering removing HTV and putting in DTF instead?

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On 10/18/2020 at 10:55 AM, Andy - Admin said:

It's been used in Asia for months.

In my opinion they're the best transfers I've ever seen. The feel will be better than vinyl

Basically they've come up with a combination of ink, transfer film and powder that works well with digital printers. 

Can I ask, how different is it really from the product those White toner printers I have been looking at would produce?  those seem to do the same thing, but no powder at the end. I have seen very few reviews of DTF in English, and the ones I have understood are all from people selling it lol.  They all say its "way better" .  its cheaper for sure, that's always attractive for testing new things. thank you.

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3 hours ago, Stiffchick said:

Can I ask, how different is it really from the product those White toner printers I have been looking at would produce?  those seem to do the same thing, but no powder at the end. I have seen very few reviews of DTF in English, and the ones I have understood are all from people selling it lol.  They all say its "way better" .  its cheaper for sure, that's always attractive for testing new things. thank you.

Toner is plastic, plastic cracks.  I used a DIY white toner printer ( because I’m not spending that kind of cash on one). The transfers are like you would imagine- and they crack after a few washes, and it’s expensive. They have cheap not white laser transfers as well, but it all ended up the same way. Cracking, and inability to stretch with the garment. When you first make it, it looks good. But then wear it, it’s uncomfortable, and just overall feels annoying. After you wash it you start to feel like you got ripped off.
 

DTF is ink, flexible, soft, but in very large patches can also feel kind of plastic like on the backside, since the polymer adhesive powder on the back. Get your process down and it feels like a plastisol transfer, which is good. 
 

I have washed, tested, and gave away shirts with random prints on it varying from huge to small, all white to full color. 
 

I’m my opinion, DTG is king, by far. However, DTF is a great add-on. If I had to choose between the two methods( laser vs dtf) , I would use DTF every time. I still have my laser printer and papers, two years later I haven’t found an acceptable use for them other than using them for pre-stretched canvas photos/signs or canvas bags etc. stuff that isn’t going to be worn/used.

 

DTF is a great alternative but does take practice, and at the end of the day is pretty expensive to set up as well if you get a belt dryer. Personally I use 2 500w halogen bulbs over a metal table to cure them. After it heats up the table it takes about 15-30 seconds a print to cure, same way I cure my water based screen-printing prints. 
 

Anyway, it’s not a lie like most other products. If you read my history with it I was doubtful about it in the beginning because every other product I tried just ended up being all marketing schemes, and sucked for professional use. You’ll get some people who will argue with you about it, but it’s just not acceptable to sell if you take your business seriously and are looking for a product that will wear comfortably and wash well. 
 

DTG, DTF, screen-printing are all very acceptable, professional ways to sell garments. I personally have received only 10 bad reviews out of 5,000 reviews from over 30,000 customers using these methods. With the other methods out there( including vinyl) you just get mediocre results and feedback. To this day, I still get feedback from my customers thanking me, and bragging about it the fact that my products are not vinyl or cheap transfers, then they come back to order more. I do not just throw random things at my customers, I send free samples to some to get there unbiased opinion. DTF has been received well so far. 
 

I had no intention of using DTF professionally, I actually purchased it to confirm it was just like the rest of those products that just are not what a quality product is made of. But this time, I was proven wrong. I did not go into this thinking it would work, rather, thinking it would be a crap product. It came out great. Yes the powder is annoying, you need a small sifter to keep lumps out and make a fine “ powder” ( think like flour) to lightly coat the back. That’s when you get great results. 
 

sublimation is also an awesome product, but it’s limited to polyester( which I hate personally). they do sell some products to use it on cotton, but I have yet to experience it. 

 

at the very end of the day, when I get busy and need to produce what my business is capable of( when we get busy) , my only options are DTG and screen printing because DTF is a little time consuming. But for those one-offs and custom orders, it works well. I know I can produce 100 DTG prints in about 4 hours, about 2 with screen printing. DTF is around 50 prints in that time. If you had an automatic powdering machine, a belt dryer, and all that fancy stuff it would be much faster, but the end results are that specific method isn’t worth $10,000 to Me to produce what I can with my other equipment for less than half the initial cost, at a higher quality. 


 

sorry for the book, but ultimately it depends on what your looking to make, how many, and how much money you want to put in. If you purchased everything outright, I’d go with DTG. If you DIY, I’d do both. 
 

good luck! 

Edited by johnson4
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16 hours ago, johnson4 said:

Toner is plastic, plastic cracks.  I used a DIY white toner printer ( because I’m not spending that kind of cash on one). The transfers are like you would imagine- and they crack after a few washes, and it’s expensive. They have cheap not white laser transfers as well, but it all ended up the same way. Cracking, and inability to stretch with the garment. When you first make it, it looks good. But then wear it, it’s uncomfortable, and just overall feels annoying. After you wash it you start to feel like you got ripped off.
 

DTF is ink, flexible, soft, but in very large patches can also feel kind of plastic like on the backside, since the polymer adhesive powder on the back. Get your process down and it feels like a plastisol transfer, which is good. 
 

I have washed, tested, and gave away shirts with random prints on it varying from huge to small, all white to full color. 
 

I’m my opinion, DTG is king, by far. However, DTF is a great add-on. If I had to choose between the two methods( laser vs dtf) , I would use DTF every time. I still have my laser printer and papers, two years later I haven’t found an acceptable use for them other than using them for pre-stretched canvas photos/signs or canvas bags etc. stuff that isn’t going to be worn/used.

 

DTF is a great alternative but does take practice, and at the end of the day is pretty expensive to set up as well if you get a belt dryer. Personally I use 2 500w halogen bulbs over a metal table to cure them. After it heats up the table it takes about 15-30 seconds a print to cure, same way I cure my water based screen-printing prints. 
 

Anyway, it’s not a lie like most other products. If you read my history with it I was doubtful about it in the beginning because every other product I tried just ended up being all marketing schemes, and sucked for professional use. You’ll get some people who will argue with you about it, but it’s just not acceptable to sell if you take your business seriously and are looking for a product that will wear comfortably and wash well. 
 

DTG, DTF, screen-printing are all very acceptable, professional ways to sell garments. I personally have received only 10 bad reviews out of 5,000 reviews from over 30,000 customers using these methods. With the other methods out there( including vinyl) you just get mediocre results and feedback. To this day, I still get feedback from my customers thanking me, and bragging about it the fact that my products are not vinyl or cheap transfers, then they come back to order more. I do not just throw random things at my customers, I send free samples to some to get there unbiased opinion. DTF has been received well so far. 
 

I had no intention of using DTF professionally, I actually purchased it to confirm it was just like the rest of those products that just are not what a quality product is made of. But this time, I was proven wrong. I did not go into this thinking it would work, rather, thinking it would be a crap product. It came out great. Yes the powder is annoying, you need a small sifter to keep lumps out and make a fine “ powder” ( think like flour) to lightly coat the back. That’s when you get great results. 
 

sublimation is also an awesome product, but it’s limited to polyester( which I hate personally). they do sell some products to use it on cotton, but I have yet to experience it. 

 

at the very end of the day, when I get busy and need to produce what my business is capable of( when we get busy) , my only options are DTG and screen printing because DTF is a little time consuming. But for those one-offs and custom orders, it works well. I know I can produce 100 DTG prints in about 4 hours, about 2 with screen printing. DTF is around 50 prints in that time. If you had an automatic powdering machine, a belt dryer, and all that fancy stuff it would be much faster, but the end results are that specific method isn’t worth $10,000 to Me to produce what I can with my other equipment for less than half the initial cost, at a higher quality. 


 

sorry for the book, but ultimately it depends on what your looking to make, how many, and how much money you want to put in. If you purchased everything outright, I’d go with DTG. If you DIY, I’d do both. 
 

good luck! 

Thank you, this is exactly what i wanted to know.  We started a few years ago as a custom sewing service for other businesses. one of our largest customers was looking to an alternative to her product made scarce by the shut downs.  so we found sublimation and tumblers. its going well, but we are always looking for ways to add customers (isnt everyone) 

I also hate polyester clothing, so never considered doing T shirts with sublimation, but I have always wanted to do T shirts. I just never had the room for screen printing equipment. (and I also think the vinyl t shirts look and feel bad).  I thought maybe DTF would be less space, and use some of the equipment we have already invested in for sublimation.  I wouldn't trust some of the sprays and pre treatments people are selling.  a lot of them are just mixing Polyacrylic with water and bottling it up.  I don't know enough about them safety wise, and also longevity. i would imagine its just sitting on top of the cotton fibers, and over time will flake away.  I'm not a super picky person about much, but my cloths have to be cotton, so i think everyone's should be too lol. I bought some shirts on vacation in Hawaii, and they look amazing, but I got back to Arizona and tried to wear them, and it felt like i was wearing a plastic bag.  the shirt is cotton, i believe, but the design on it is so large, and so thick, it doesn't breath. 

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31 minutes ago, Stiffchick said:

Thank you, this is exactly what i wanted to know.  We started a few years ago as a custom sewing service for other businesses. one of our largest customers was looking to an alternative to her product made scarce by the shut downs.  so we found sublimation and tumblers. its going well, but we are always looking for ways to add customers (isnt everyone) 

I also hate polyester clothing, so never considered doing T shirts with sublimation, but I have always wanted to do T shirts. I just never had the room for screen printing equipment. (and I also think the vinyl t shirts look and feel bad).  I thought maybe DTF would be less space, and use some of the equipment we have already invested in for sublimation.  I wouldn't trust some of the sprays and pre treatments people are selling.  a lot of them are just mixing Polyacrylic with water and bottling it up.  I don't know enough about them safety wise, and also longevity. i would imagine its just sitting on top of the cotton fibers, and over time will flake away.  I'm not a super picky person about much, but my cloths have to be cotton, so i think everyone's should be too lol. I bought some shirts on vacation in Hawaii, and they look amazing, but I got back to Arizona and tried to wear them, and it felt like i was wearing a plastic bag.  the shirt is cotton, i believe, but the design on it is so large, and so thick, it doesn't breath. 

I’m glad it helped some.

 

With direct to garment, the pretreatment just prevents the ink from just wicking away in the shirt, and washes away the first wash. It makes the ink coagulate. It’s not harmful, unless you drink it( the one I use anyway). Look up the MSDS on them to find out before buying. the one i use consists of salts and a bit of adhesive to hold the shirt fibers down and of course water. I would never buy something unless it has been tested and approved for its purpose, which is why I didn’t switch to Kodak inks until it was approved safe. 
 

the DTF method can work well, you just need to work on not putting too much powder on the film. I’ve made several prints that just come out great, if you have a way to cure them, and a place to powder them, it’s a great add-on. It’s not something I would full scale work with though if you want to mass produce. Screenprinting is absolutely the most profitable. At one point in the beginning I worked out of a 8x10 room with 2 dtg printers, a screen press and screens as well as my stock and everything else from start to delivered. That was fun, haha. 
 

Good luck :) 

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The thing i'm concerned about which i'm not sure has been talked about enough is the cleaning and maintenance.  Since these DTF printers are basically 'closed' with no easy access to the bottom of the printhead as you would with a dtg printer. You will need to disassemble the printer just to check the bottom of the print head.

Do dtf inks behave like dtg inks?  For people who have been doing this for a few weeks now, are they less prone to build up and clogging the print head?

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6 hours ago, skwakk said:

The thing i'm concerned about which i'm not sure has been talked about enough is the cleaning and maintenance.  Since these DTF printers are basically 'closed' with no easy access to the bottom of the printhead as you would with a dtg printer. You will need to disassemble the printer just to check the bottom of the print head.

Do dtf inks behave like dtg inks?  For people who have been doing this for a few weeks now, are they less prone to build up and clogging the print head?

I haven’t had an issue with it. It doesn’t dry like dtg inks, and would have less air flow to do so. 
 

ive only done it once, but I took a foam tipped swab and slid it under the head, if you tilt it up it fits. Not much came out and I haven’t encountered an issue so far. Take some dtf ink and place it in a lid or something and let it sit out for days. It never really dries. 

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11 minutes ago, johnson4 said:

I haven’t had an issue with it. It doesn’t dry like dtg inks, and would have less air flow to do so. 
 

ive only done it once, but I took a foam tipped swab and slid it under the head, if you tilt it up it fits. Not much came out and I haven’t encountered an issue so far. Take some dtf ink and place it in a lid or something and let it sit out for days. It never really dries. 

I actually have a print that i didn't powder, and it's been over 2 weeks and it still isn't dry..

It was a concern of mine too, but isn't really anymore. I'm going with the p400 because CMYK+W all need shaken, they all settle to some degree. Using the p400 will make it super easy to shake, clean, maintain the printer with no waste at all. Easy to run a set of cleaning carts with it to clean the head. I noticed with the P800 if I didn't print often it settled pretty quickly, like DTG inks. With how little DTF uses, the 18ML carts on the P400 make the most sense. I printed over 30 with the 10ml carts ( like 8x10 prints) before it needed refilled. So I'd imagine the 18ML will yield almost double that. I've got two sets with ink in them, and one set for cleaning. Works great, no waste, no worrying about the head or cleaning it really. 

I also don't need an output tray. you know that " thick media" feeder on the front that lifts the rollers? I took that out and disabled the sensor. Leave the front open for the thick media, boom, built in output tray that holds the film perfectly :)

 

I forgot to mention, i do wipe down the wiper every now and again. 

Edited by johnson4
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6 hours ago, johnson4 said:

I actually have a print that i didn't powder, and it's been over 2 weeks and it still isn't dry..

It was a concern of mine too, but isn't really anymore. I'm going with the p400 because CMYK+W all need shaken, they all settle to some degree. Using the p400 will make it super easy to shake, clean, maintain the printer with no waste at all. Easy to run a set of cleaning carts with it to clean the head. I noticed with the P800 if I didn't print often it settled pretty quickly, like DTG inks. With how little DTF uses, the 18ML carts on the P400 make the most sense. I printed over 30 with the 10ml carts ( like 8x10 prints) before it needed refilled. So I'd imagine the 18ML will yield almost double that. I've got two sets with ink in them, and one set for cleaning. Works great, no waste, no worrying about the head or cleaning it really. 

I also don't need an output tray. you know that " thick media" feeder on the front that lifts the rollers? I took that out and disabled the sensor. Leave the front open for the thick media, boom, built in output tray that holds the film perfectly :)

 

I forgot to mention, i do wipe down the wiper every now and again. 

wow two weeks? that's a long time for it to not dry. so does that mean these dtf inks are not really water-based?  by the way what's the percentage of your ink laydown? especially for the white? I'd imagine it shouldn't be 100%.

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1 hour ago, skwakk said:

wow two weeks? that's a long time for it to not dry. so does that mean these dtf inks are not really water-based?  by the way what's the percentage of your ink laydown? especially for the white? I'd imagine it shouldn't be 100%.

Its 50%. I mean it gels, but doesn’t dry like dtg inks if you touch it, it’s in your finger.  Needs heat to set it, it seems. 

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On 11/29/2020 at 12:17 PM, johnson4 said:

I actually have a print that i didn't powder, and it's been over 2 weeks and it still isn't dry..

It was a concern of mine too, but isn't really anymore. I'm going with the p400 because CMYK+W all need shaken, they all settle to some degree. Using the p400 will make it super easy to shake, clean, maintain the printer with no waste at all. Easy to run a set of cleaning carts with it to clean the head. I noticed with the P800 if I didn't print often it settled pretty quickly, like DTG inks. With how little DTF uses, the 18ML carts on the P400 make the most sense. I printed over 30 with the 10ml carts ( like 8x10 prints) before it needed refilled. So I'd imagine the 18ML will yield almost double that. I've got two sets with ink in them, and one set for cleaning. Works great, no waste, no worrying about the head or cleaning it really. 

I also don't need an output tray. you know that " thick media" feeder on the front that lifts the rollers? I took that out and disabled the sensor. Leave the front open for the thick media, boom, built in output tray that holds the film perfectly :)

 

I forgot to mention, i do wipe down the wiper every now and again. 

Hello, Newbie here. Long time lurker first time posting. I finally acquired a P400 that I need to convert. I've done a ton of research on the P400 but haven't had much luck, everything seems to be about the P600. Do the rollers just lift out? or do I need to take apart the printer to get them out? If they just lift out how should they be pulled out so I don't break anything?  Also how did you go about taking the sensor off the front door to use as an output tray? Do you by any chance have any pictures of what the sensor looks like or would it be self explanatory once I figure out how to take it apart? Any information would be much appreciated. Thanks.

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9 hours ago, CChase said:

Hello, Newbie here. Long time lurker first time posting. I finally acquired a P400 that I need to convert. I've done a ton of research on the P400 but haven't had much luck, everything seems to be about the P600. Do the rollers just lift out? or do I need to take apart the printer to get them out? If they just lift out how should they be pulled out so I don't break anything?  Also how did you go about taking the sensor off the front door to use as an output tray? Do you by any chance have any pictures of what the sensor looks like or would it be self explanatory once I figure out how to take it apart? Any information would be much appreciated. Thanks.

They just snap out, they are “clipped” in. 
 

for what I did with the p400, I took it apart and removed the metal guide entirely, because I hate it( I don’t know). And there is a switch that detects when the front is open, that runs to the buttons on the front. Just cut and twist together/tape it. So, don’t take it apart, or do? That’s up to you. It’s easiest not to take it apart. That switch can be manipulated without taking it apart. 
 

I was starting to work on a “built in” cutter for the roll film, but ran out of time. I’ll get back to it next year. 
 

90 percent of what I say I just do it, then write a book about how it turns out, good or bad.  Follow anything i say with your own discretion, quite a few things I do aren’t the smartest- but that’s how I know. The output film media tray thing shocked me with how well it worked. It held it in place and the film curved down on the oem output tray, being held flat near the printhead still. 
 

 

 

 

 

good luck!

Edited by johnson4
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20 hours ago, johnson4 said:

They just snap out, they are “clipped” in. 
 

for what I did with the p400, I took it apart and removed the metal guide entirely, because I hate it( I don’t know). And there is a switch that detects when the front is open, that runs to the buttons on the front. Just cut and twist together/tape it. So, don’t take it apart, or do? That’s up to you. It’s easiest not to take it apart. That switch can be manipulated without taking it apart. 
 

I was starting to work on a “built in” cutter for the roll film, but ran out of time. I’ll get back to it next year. 
 

90 percent of what I say I just do it, then write a book about how it turns out, good or bad.  Follow anything i say with your own discretion, quite a few things I do aren’t the smartest- but that’s how I know. The output film media tray thing shocked me with how well it worked. It held it in place and the film curved down on the oem output tray, being held flat near the printhead still. 
 

 

 

 

 

good luck!

Awesome!! thank you very much for the info!! I'm about to dive into it. You definitely seem very knowledgeable about all this. Ive read a bunch of your posts to other people. I ordered all my supplies from the DTFSupertore but they wont be here till next week. I'm all the way in NY. I tried pulling on the rollers with the cd door open lifting the rollers and with the cd door closed but they dont seem to budge either way. I feel like I'm going to break something. Maybe I'll try just taking it apart to be safe unless you have a good method to pull on the rollers? 

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DTF is there for a long time. It is just modified printing technique. I learned some people in my country already using it a bit diffirent.

They use transfer paper and print CMYK on to paper. Then put paper in serigrafi silk mold and get plastisol white on to paper on CMYK. Then put the powder, rest is same.

So, DTF is basicly uses plastisol white ink that usable in printers and eleminates some steps above.

It is basicly a heat transfer method.

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2 hours ago, CChase said:

Nevermind on the rollers, I got them out no problem. Thank you. I was totally looking at it wrong. Now on to to disconnecting that switch on the front door.

No worries, I know the rollers seem weird at first. The switch is pretty easy to get to, its just the top button cover and one of the wires going down to the front. you could put a button on it, I don't know if you'll ever need to actually actuate it, but it's there if you need it. 

 

Good luck, DTF is a pretty quick and easy method once you get it down.

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6 hours ago, johnson4 said:

No worries, I know the rollers seem weird at first. The switch is pretty easy to get to, its just the top button cover and one of the wires going down to the front. you could put a button on it, I don't know if you'll ever need to actually actuate it, but it's there if you need it. 

 

Good luck, DTF is a pretty quick and easy method once you get it down.

Cool! I took the buttons off and there are 2 wires going to the front on the same plug. A white and black. I unplugged those and left it apart. Unfortunately all my inks and cleaning solutions wont be here until next week so I cant test it out yet. I cant wait to give it a try. Thanks again for the help. Now got to find acro RIP and figure that out. Then once I get it working I'll get something better. 

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23 hours ago, johnson4 said:

One set goes to the lid switch, one to the front panel. 

 

I think you’ll enjoy it :)

Awesome thanks again! I know I will. If I didnt stumble upon this forum I would have bought an icolor 550. I was ready to pull the trigger after tons of research and this seems like way better quality for a fraction of the price. 

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