What is Direct to Film (DTF) Printing?

DTF Printing, or “Direct to Film” Printing is a T-Shirt Transfer Printing process.  
That means the printer prints onto film media, and this print is then transferred to a t-shirt by using a heat press. 

A DTF printer uses liquid ink to print digital transfers. These prints work similar to any other liquid ink printer you may have used for your home or business. The difference is the type of ink, inclusion of white ink and what happens next.  

With anywhere from 2 to 4 print heads in a high volume DTF printer, this means that there is one printhead that prints color ink, while another printhead prints out a layer of white. These highly accurate print heads allow for full-color digital images to be printed all in a single pass.  

No Layering, No multi-step process, No mixing of ink, No need for multiple colors of film.  

In order to create a transfer after printing your design, you will need to apply adhesive. DTF printing uses powder glue in order to create the transfers.  Depending on your printer, the adhesive is either applied after you’ve printed and trimmed the design or as part of the full in-line process. The powder glue is moisture-seeking, so it draws into the printed ink and creates an extremely strong adhesive for shirts.  

The adhesive needs heat to officially bond with the ink & film to create a transfer. This heat is either applied using a heat press, or with an in-line system.  

Steps when using a manual DTF System 

Steps when using an automated in-line DTF System

When compared to methods like Screen Printing, a lot of businesses are adopting DTF printers for their high volume orders.  DTF Printing has a lot of benefits compared to screen printing. 

DTF vs Screen Printing

DTF vs Vinyl Cutting

DTF vs Vinyl Cutting


DTF vs White Toner

DTF vs Sublimation