What Is the Difference Between DTG, DTF Prints, and Sublimation?

Clothing printing is an ever-evolving industry that develops with technological changes. Different types of printers, different types of inks, and different methods of transferring images onto clothing are key factors that affect product quality and production capacity. The three main types of clothing printing are DTG, DTF prints, and sublimation. This is a comparison that can help you understand their differences so that you can choose the appropriate type according to your business needs.

DTG, DTF prints, and sublimation

DTG (direct-to-garment printing): As the name suggests, direct-to-garment printing prints images directly onto fabric using a printer. No film or transfer paper is required, but the clothing needs to be pre-treated to ensure the image transfers correctly. DTG printing requires specific types of inks and is usually best for printing on cotton fabrics.

DTF (direct-to-film printing): DTF prints, like hot peel dtf film, involve printing the image onto a film first, then transferring the image from the film to the fabric. DTF prints do not require any pretreatment of the fabric, but it does require powder to be applied to the image after it has been transferred to the film to prevent ink from running or stripes appearing.

Sublimation printing: Sublimation printing uses a unique process different from DTG and DTF pet release film. Instead of printing liquid ink onto fabric or film, solid ink material turns directly into gas without turning into liquid. The image is printed onto transfer paper and then transferred onto the fabric. The ink is heated until it completely melts into the fibers of the fabric.

Important factors in choosing the printing type

When deciding which type of clothing printing is suitable for your business or current project, consider the following factors:

  • Fabric color: Due to the way ink melts into the fibers, sublimation printing works better on light-colored fabrics. For printing on black or dark-colored fabrics, DTG is a better printing method.

  • Color range in the image: There are some color limitations with sublimation, especially with white. If there is white in the image, you may need to use DTG or DTF prints.

  • Fabric type: DTF prints are suitable for any type of fabric, but DTG works best on cotton and sublimation on polyester.

  • Order size: If you need to quickly print a large amount of items, DTG printing is usually the best choice because it is faster. However, pretreatment does take some time, so if you have an urgent order, you may want to try DTF or sublimation.

  • Final product texture: When ink is combined with fabric, the image on DTG products often feels rougher, while the image on DTF feels smoother and more plastic-like. The sublimation printing image feels the same as the rest of the fabric.

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