What Is Direct to Film (DTF) Printing?


Posted by AllDayShirts on to Printing Techniques.

For generations, clothing has long been used to express an individual's sense of style and set trends. This is why the custom t-shirt market was  worth $3.9 billion globally in 2021. 

Custom print t-shirts are one of the best ways to design a piece of personalized clothing. Whether for a charity event, a concert, or just for everyday use and wear, a custom shirt design is fun and stylish.

There are many methods of printing custom shirts, from Sublimation to Screen Printing, Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV), and Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing. But you may not know about DTF printing and its benefits for custom t-shirt designs.

What is DTF printing, and how does it work? This guide explains the difference between DTG and DTF printing and their benefits. We also explore the process and recommend some t-shirts for DTF printing.

Keep reading to discover more!

What Is DTF Printing?

DTF printing is also called Direct-to-Film printing. This is because it prints a design onto a piece of unique transfer film. This design can then be applied to a garment to transfer the design.

The transfer film is a stretched polyester film made from a sturdy polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This film is ideal for design transfer because of its high tensile strength and chemical stability.

How Does DTF Printing Work?

DTF Transfer

DTF printing requires a DTF printer and special software to print the design onto a PET film sheet. A water-based ink prints the design onto the film and then dries.

After the design dries, a powered glue is added to the design, and it is heat cured to lock in the ink. The design film may be stored for transfer at a later date, or it can go right to the next step. 

A heat press activates the powdered glue to adhere to the fabric, and the design transfers to the t-shirt in as little as 15 seconds. 

Benefits of DTF Printing

There are several benefits of using DTF printing to create custom t-shirt designs.

1) DTF printing can be used on non-cotton fabrics, such as polyester, which can be harder to print using other printing methods.

2) DTF printing is also faster than other printing options. There's no need to let the design sit to dry for long periods like different types of printing.

3) The process uses less ink than other methods, with only  40% white ink. So it has a much lower cost.

With less ink usage, a lower cost, and no lengthy drying times, you can diversify your t-shirt print catalog designs much more.

DTF Printing vs. DTG Printing

Unlike DTG printing, DTF printing does not require a pre-treatment process to get the fibers to accept ink. DTF can print onto non-cotton fabrics much easier than the DTG printing method. 

The print quality for DTF printing is more durable than DTG printing and can withstand up to 45 handwashes without peeling, cracking, or fading. 

The curing powder used for DTF printing dries the design onto the shirt with a smoother plastic-like feeling, whereas the DTG printing method makes the design feel rougher on the fabric's surface. 

DTF printing costs less than DTG printing and offers a professional-looking high-quality design.

Recommended T-Shirts for DTF Printing

As stated above, the top benefit of using DTF printing is its ability to be used on various fabrics. This means you won't have to limit yourself to only t-shirts suitable for DTF printing.

G500 Gildan Adult Heavy Cotton T-Shirt


The  Gildan Adult Heavy Cotton T-Shirt comes in 70 vibrant colors, great for printing t-shirts representing school colors or charity organization events. It is made from a 5.3 oz mediumweight 100% soft pre-shrunk cotton. You can find it in sizes from S to 5XL.

The Sport Grey and Antique Heather colors are 90% soft cotton and 10% Polyester. The Safety Colors and Heather colors are 50% soft cotton and 50% polyester.

3001C Bella Canvas Unisex Jersey T-Shirt


Bella Canvas Unisex Jersey T-Shirt is available in 59 colors and sizes S to 5XL. It has a soft, delicate feel with its 4.2 oz lightweight construction made from 100% Airlume combed and 32 singles ring-spun cotton. It features a classic crew neck and short sleeve design, making it an ideal everyday casual shirt.

The Ash colors are 99% Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton with 1% polyester. The Athletic Heather and Black Heather colors are 90% Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton with 10% polyester.

The other Heather and Blend Colors are 52% Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton with 48% polyester.

3001 Bella Canvas Unisex Heather CVC T-Shirt


Our  Bella Canvas Unisex Heather T-Shirt is made from 4.2 oz lightweight Chief Value Cotton (CVC) and contains 48% polyester and 52% Airlume combed ring-spun 32 singles cotton. It combines breathability, comfort, and softness. You can find this shirt in 61 colors and sizes XS to 4XL. 

Its Prism Colors are 99% Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton with 1% polyester. The Athletic Heather and Black Heather colors are 90% Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton with 10% polyester.

3600 Next Level Unisex Cotton T-Shirt

Next Level 3600

With the  Next Level Unisex Cotton T-Shirt, you can have durability and comfort in one. 100% combed and ring-spun 32 singles cotton offers you a lightweight 4.3 oz shirt. Choose from 33 rich colors and sizes from XS to 4XL.

The Heather Gray color is 90% cotton and 10% polyester.

G640 Gildan Adult Softstyle T-Shirt

Gildan G640

Gildan Adult Softstyle T-Shirt is even softer than the G500 with its ultrafine 100% pre-shrunk ring-spun cotton to give you a lightweight feel. You can find this 4.5 oz soft shirt in 60 colors and sizes from S to 4XL.

Its Sport Grey and Antique Heathers are made from 90% soft cotton and 10% polyester. The Graphite Heather is a 50% cotton and 50% polyester blend. All other Heathers colors are 35% soft cotton and 65% polyester.

Find More Blank T-Shirts for DTF Printing at

DTF printing makes it possible to create fantastic t-shirt designs quickly and cost-effectively. So whether you're making designs to sell online or just want to change your style, DTF printing is a good choice.

Find all the leading brands of blank shirts for printing like Bella and Canvas, Gildan, Fruit of the Loom, and Next Level at It's easy to find the quality shirts you need at affordable prices, in stock, on our website.

Place your order on our website today, or read our blog post on 8 Common T-Shirt Printing Mistakes to learn more.

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