How to Print DTF(Direct to Film) – Step By Step Process
Direct to Film printing, or DTF, is a new technology that allows users to print designs onto special films. These films are then transferred onto a garment of choice using an adhesive and can last as long as silkscreen prints. Similar to most heat transfer processes, a quality printer and heat press are necessary for maximizing this process. Here are its working steps.
Print on Film
You should not use the common paper but the PET film. To begin with, you print the whole image on the PET film, with white as the bottom. Then, you can set the color you want and print the image on the white layer. Be careful, the image on the film must be the inverted.
Spread the Powder
This step is to pour the hot melt powder onto the the film. When printing wet images, you should make ensure all the power that are distributed into the surface evenly. The ordinary way to spread the powder is to pour the powder at the center of the film from top to bottom such that it forms an approximately 1 inch pile. Picking up the film together with the powder and slightly bend it inwards such that it forms a slight U with the concave surface towards yourself. Finally, you shake the film sightly to make the powder spotted on the film evenly.
Melt the Powder
Literally, power is melted in this step. All roads lead to Rome. Generally, people heat the film with powder in the curing oven. But how to finish this step without a curing ovem? You can put the film in the heat press, making the top of the press very close to the film but not touching it. On the condition that there is 4 to 7 mm gap between the film and heat press top plate. To make sure the film that won’t be fully covered, you can use a metal wire to fasten the press top. To get the optimum effects, you can melt the powder according to the request of the manufacturers. The heating process is generally lasted for 2 to 5 minutes with the temperature around 160 to 170 degree Celsius.
Pre-press the Fabric
Pre-press means that pre-press the fabric before transfering the image. The purpose of pressing the texture for 2 to 5 seconds in the heat press is to dehumidify of the fabric.
This is the core step of DTF printing that the PET film with the image and the melted powder is placed on the fabric. This purpose of this step is to get a strong adhesion between the film and the fabric, which also called curing. With a temperature range of 160 to 170 degree Celsius for about 15 to 20secomds, the film is now firmly attached to the fabric.
More importantly, before you pull the film off you need to make sure it gets cooled down to room temperature. Similar to amides, hot melt powder acts as a binder that makes the ink in the firm adhesion with fibres of the fabric. Once the film is cooled, it must be peeled off the fabric, leaving the required design over the fabric.
It is an alternative, but you can get optimum results like wash and rub fastness. In this step, the final fabric with the transferred design is pressed in the heat press for around 10 to 15 seconds.
DTF(direct to film) practically solves all problems that are commonly encountered in other textile printing processes especially when it comes to choosing the fabric to print on. Therefore overall cost of printing is brought down hence offering a higher profit margin. DTF is a good choice for textile printing!