If you do any browsing in social media the past year, you'll see people posting statements like that. But of course these are not dead or even dying decorating options. Has Direct-to-film taken some market share? You bet ya. The better question is, can DTF help my business currently or in the future.
Let's start with screen printing, and the comparison of DTF prints to screen printed shirts. There are some very passionate screen printers out there and not only are they in it to make a living, but they love the process, the art. To be a good screen printer you must be part artist, chemist, creative problem solver, and must have a damn good work ethic - because let's face it, there are plenty of easier jobs than screen printing. That being said, a good screen printer on the right equipment, can put out some amazing prints and the production levels achieved can not be matched.
Here are some jobs that may work better, or be a little easier for you to do with DTF transfers:
- Tags - it may be easier to put together branding logos, with various sizes and tag the shirts after they have been screen printed. You can have the tags stacked up and ready to press right before you fold and package.
- Names on Jerseys - As a former manual screen printer, I can easily tell you this sucks screen printing! Especially on polyester.
- Numbers on Jerseys - If you've have screen printed numbers on jersey, I'm sure you are like me and hated it the whole time!
- Short runs on Polyester - Setting up underbase, an additional screen, using low cure inks, getting the inks tested for bleed, and you are doing for 20ish shirts, its just not worth it! DTF would be a great substitute for this.
- Hard to screen print items - hats, socks, shorts, bags, sweatpants, or pockets. Sure can these things be screen printed? Yep, you all are a creative and industrious bunch, but is it easier and less labor intensive to do DTF - that is the question you should ask.
Now on to the DTG printing and how DTF compares:
- Polyester: DTF definitely is easier and often looks better on polyester than DTG. Across the board even to the $500k machines. We all hate to pretreat shirts, figure out the right amount on each different fabric. With DTF there virtually isn't any testing needed, and the print feels great on polyester (if printed on a good DTF unit and the process is done correctly)
- Cotton: Now when done correctly you'll find the DTG print has a better hand than DTF, but depending on the fabric DTF print is probably going to be more vibrant. And again, no pretreatment.
- Cost: There are machines like the Epson F2100 DTG that also can print DTF transfers, so the cost of the ink is going to be about the same. Then you are just going to have to calculate the difference in film versus pretreatment. Both have additional steps that need to be done besides the printing aspect. But, if you have a high-production DTF printer like the VELOX you can skip the step of applying the powder and semi-curing it because the system automates this process. Your cost per print is down from some of the smaller printers, and you speed is going to be much faster than printing on sheets, one job at a time. No doubt your initial investment is going to be higher, and in many cases requires a little more maintenance than smaller printers.
Remember back to when DTG came on the market and the talk was DTG was going to end the screen print world - well they were wrong. DTF is in the same situation, it may not excel at every application, but it does have its place in the market. We've all experienced very plastic feeling prints of the transfers in the past, but that is not the case anymore. There is a reason that Direct-to-film is the fastest growing market segment in the industry and just keeps getting bigger and bigger each month.
If you are interested in DTF, we hope that you will consider the VELOX DTF system as an option for your business. SPSI is the exclusive distributor and technical support of the VELOX DTF. Please let us know if we can provide you with more information or would like to schedule a demo please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org