Everything You Need To Know About Direct To Film Printing

Everything You Need To Know About Direct To Film Printing

Have you ever been walking down the street and noticed someone with a t-shirt image so vibrant that it immediately caught your eye? Did the colors and image appear so clear and vibrant that they look like they hopped right off the computer screen and onto the material? If so, this shirt was most likely made using DTF printing. 

A sure sign of DTF printing is that the print looks photo quality, which is one of the reasons that DTF printing is all the rage in the crafting community right now. Aside from superior quality, DTF is also a relatively easy crafting process that yields incredible, long-lasting results. If you’re interested in dipping your toe into DTF printing, here’s everything you need to know to get started. 

What is DTF?

To truly understand DTF printing, you need to start by knowing what DTF stands for. DTF is the abbreviation for “direct to film.” In order to do a DTF craft, you’ll need an image printed by a DTF printer. When a DTF printer prints your image, it uses four-color overlay printing, which provides you with a photo-like effect. The four-color overlay is printed directly on film, which also explains the image’s clarity once it’s transferred onto a blank garment or other material. DTF prints require heat in order to transfer properly—whether you’re transferring to a canvas bag or a versatile wooden blank. Now that you understand the basics of DTF, here are the reasons why you should consider it for your next crafting project. 

Pros of DTF Printing

There are numerous benefits of using DFT transfers. Here are some unmistakable qualities of DTF printed images that have crafters coming back for more. 

1. Elasticity

Have you ever printed onto a garment and when you stretched the shirt to put it on, the image cracked, flaked or warped? With DTF images, you never have to worry about that, because they have an elastic quality that offers durability and longevity. 

2. Longevity

It’s inevitable that you’ll need to wash a functional piece of material, like a t-shirt or even a tote if it gets dirty. With the DTF process, your works of art can be washed without fear of them getting destroyed. Your image won’t crack or fade any time soon. 

3. Quality

The DTF process results in a quality transfer you can’t get with other heat-required transfer techniques. If you’re looking for a clear, striking image that will mirror the design you created on your laptop or purchased online, DTF printing can get you just that. If you’re looking to take the path of least resistance and want to purchase a quality DTF transfer check out the Griffin Blanks site. 

4. Smooth, Wrinkle-Free Finish

DTF looks and feels smooth. You don’t have to worry about your image getting bumpy after a few washes if the garment you printed on wrinkles or pills. 

5. Material Options Are Endless

The crafting world is your oyster when it comes to what types of material you can use a DTF print on. The only real qualification is that the material is heat resistant, so that it can handle the transfer. You can put a DTF print on a variety of materials including acrylic, wood and material blends. 

direct to film printing

DTF VS. Sublimation: What’s The Difference?

In some regards, DTF is similar to sublimation. For example, both techniques utilize heat to transfer the images. However, there are some key differences. Below we’ve listed a few of the noteworthy differences: 


Sublimation prints feel like the material they’re printed on, because the material absorbs the ink and printed image. DTF images are smooth and sit on top of the material, because it’s the hot melt glue on the back of a DTF print that adheres to the material, and not the ink itself.


With sublimation, you can only print on materials that have been treated with a sublimation spray or materials that are made of at least 60 percent polyester. Using the DTF transfer technique, you can adhere the image to any material that is resistant to the heat press. 


Sublimation only works on light colors and printers are unable to print the color white. DTF transfers can be done on light and dark colored materials, and DTF printers can print white. 


Both processes require heat, but sublimation requires higher temperatures than DTF. 

Required DTF Equipment

If you can’t wait to get started, creating your own DTF garments is a great first craft to get you acquainted with the process. There are many resources that will help you understand how to transfer a DTF print to a t-shirt. Before you get started, you’ll need a: 

  • DTF printer
  • DTF Ink 
  • DTF Powder
  • Transfer Film
  • Heat Source: oven, heat press machine or heat blower gun 
  • Teflon sheet to put overtop of the image, so the transfer film doesn’t stick to the press 
  • Blank Garment
DTF printer

If you have a design idea, but don’t want to spend money on a DTF printer and other DTF accessories quite yet, you can have your image printed by Griffin Expressions. Your image will arrive in the mail and then you can put it on a shirt or any other blank your heart desires. On the other hand, if you’d rather have a pre-created image shipped to you so you can practice your transferring technique, there are many fun DTF images you can choose from for your next crafting party. 

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