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Difference Between DTG and DTF Printing

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Understanding the Difference Between DTG and DTF Printing


The world of garment printing has witnessed remarkable advancements over the years, offering various techniques to customize and print designs on fabrics. Two popular methods that have gained substantial recognition in the industry are Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing and Direct-to-Film (DTF) printing. Both methods have their unique strengths and applications, making them suitable for different scenarios. In this blog post, we will delve into the differences between DTG and DTF printing, highlighting their respective processes, advantages, and limitations.

1. Direct-to-Garment (DTG) Printing:

DTG printing, also known as digital apparel printing, is a modern printing method that uses inkjet technology to print designs directly onto garments. It is an ideal technique for producing highly detailed, complex, and multi-colored designs with exceptional accuracy. The process involves the following steps:

Step 1: Preparing the Garment – The fabric is pre-treated with a specialized solution to ensure the ink adheres to the fibers properly.

Step 2: Loading the Design – The digital image is loaded into the DTG printer, and the operator can customize printing settings such as color, resolution, and size.

Step 3: Printing – The printer applies water-based ink directly onto the garment’s surface using inkjet nozzles, effectively infusing the colors into the fabric.

Step 4: Curing – After printing, the garment is heat-pressed to fix the ink into the fabric, ensuring durability and washability.

Advantages of DTG Printing:
– Suitable for small to medium-sized print runs with complex designs.
– Allows for accurate color reproduction and gradients.
– High level of detail and sharpness.
– Suitable for cotton and cotton-blend fabrics.

Limitations of DTG Printing:
– Relatively slower production speed compared to traditional screen printing.
– Limited to printing on light-colored garments due to ink transparency.
– May not be cost-effective for large-scale productions.

2. Direct-to-Film (DTF) Printing:

DTF printing is a relatively newer method that has gained popularity for its versatility and efficiency. Unlike DTG, which directly prints on garments, DTF uses a special printable DTF film that is later transferred to the fabric. Here’s how the DTF printing process works:

Step 1: Printing the Film – The design is printed onto a heat-sensitive transfer film using a specialized DTF printer. The DTF ink used is usually eco-solvent or UV-curable.

Step 2: Applying Adhesive – A layer of heat-activated adhesive DTF powder is applied to the printed design on the film.

Step 3: Film Transfer – The printed film is placed on the garment with the adhesive side facing down. Heat and pressure are applied using a heat press machine, causing the adhesive to bind with the fabric fibers.

Step 4: Peeling – Once the transfer process is complete, the film is peeled off, leaving the printed design on the garment.

Advantages of DTF Printing:
– Can be used on various fabric colors and types, including dark garments.
– Faster production speed compared to DTG printing.
– Suitable for small to large print runs.
– Vibrant and durable prints with excellent washability.

Limitations of DTF Printing:
– Less detail and color accuracy compared to DTG.
– May require adjustments in printing settings for different fabric types.
– Initial setup costs can be higher due to specialized equipment and films.


In summary, both DTG and DTF printing have their distinct advantages and limitations, making them suitable for different applications. DTG is ideal for intricate designs and light-colored garments, while DTF excels at printing on various fabric colors, T-shirts including dark ones, and offers faster production speeds. The choice between these methods depends on factors such as the design complexity, fabric type, desired print quality, and the scale of production. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect further refinements and innovations in both DTG and DTF printing, providing even more options for garment customisation in the future. More and more T-shirt designers are using DTF now because it is cheaper and easy to use method.

Contact us if you are interested in DTF printers and you want to explore more!