Author Topic: DTF and the future of screen printing  (Read 19097 times)

Offline brandon

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2024, 09:01:18 AM »
Like I said, customers opinion and not your feelings are moving this needle.

You are correct. And we do use a lot of DTF already for hats, koozies, tote bags, shorts, this and that, just not shirts. Yet. I do know things will change, but until then it's a giant sticker. But when some company works this out yes screen printing will change yet again. It's funny, we got rid of our manual presses exactly 10 years ago. Two reasons - not worth training people and upcoming technology. I still think DTG has a place.


Offline farmboygraphics

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2024, 10:57:58 AM »
And we do use a lot of DTF already for hats, koozies, tote bags, shorts, this and that, just not shirts. Yet. I do know things will change, but until then it's a giant sticker.

I would imagine that change coming in the form of removing the powder from the process, somehow incorporating as it's own printhead. This might also allow nice fades that don't need an underbase.
Or maybe skip the powder and go to a pretreat similar to dtg? Have any of that do these in house given that a try, might be a fun experiment. :-)                                               
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Offline brandon

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2024, 11:25:16 AM »
I know there are a lot of people trying to crack that right now. It will happen sooner or later. Just depends on the price tag and will the equipment be considered expendable like a lot of the current DTF printers on the market. Use a year and toss. Heck, there are now discharge DTG machines on the market in Asia but how often do you replace that head and ink lines? Something will come along with DTF and if not it will be another way like DTG to decorate a garment. I was joking at Long Beach that in 5 years it will come full circle and everyone will be back on manual presses saying how fast you can print 6 shirts with a one color front and two color back

Offline whitewater

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2024, 11:31:16 AM »
This needs to be looked at from the customers side. I printed some tri-blends with digital heat apply on half of the back for a small order, they loved them. A large motorcycle club that I've printed for had their last two orders done with dtf and love them, my brother is a member. If you still have another 10 years to go in this business you better be looking hard at this, keep in mind, right now is the worst these printers will be. I don't remember there ever being a dtg expo, yet there's one coming up for dtf. I've had a big uptick in customers wanting multicolor prints, for now I work around that with sim or full color process. You can turn your nose up at AI art, but it's not going away and everyone with a phone and Canva (they had almost 2 billion in revenue end of last year) are going to want what they made on shirts. I just turned 58, my shop and equipment are paid for and I sure don't feel like dropping 30 grand on anything again, plus building out a room to keep it in. My plan is to set the money aside this year and see where this goes for me. Like I said, customers opinion and not your feelings are moving this needle.



This is why I am looking hard at it now. I know my customer base... also being 51, I do not feel like buying a whole new auto press set up when I struggle to find proper staffing. I agree with that AI art. Our shop would never get that close, we do not even do any sim or 4 color process.

Offline Nation03

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2024, 02:25:24 PM »
And we do use a lot of DTF already for hats, koozies, tote bags, shorts, this and that, just not shirts. Yet. I do know things will change, but until then it's a giant sticker.

I would imagine that change coming in the form of removing the powder from the process, somehow incorporating as it's own printhead. This might also allow nice fades that don't need an underbase.
Or maybe skip the powder and go to a pretreat similar to dtg? Have any of that do these in house given that a try, might be a fun experiment. :-)                                             

That would be interesting to try. I might run a sample and throw it through the dryer with no powder and I'll try applying it to a pretreated shirt to see what the results are like.

Offline Rockers

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2024, 10:05:53 PM »
And we do use a lot of DTF already for hats, koozies, tote bags, shorts, this and that, just not shirts. Yet. I do know things will change, but until then it's a giant sticker.

I would imagine that change coming in the form of removing the powder from the process, somehow incorporating as it's own printhead. This might also allow nice fades that don't need an underbase.
Or maybe skip the powder and go to a pretreat similar to dtg? Have any of that do these in house given that a try, might be a fun experiment. :-)                                             

That would be interesting to try. I might run a sample and throw it through the dryer with no powder and I'll try applying it to a pretreated shirt to see what the results are like.
I went to a local trade show here in Japan. There was a powder free system on display. They plan to release it in half a year or so. The glue is printed plus a clear base for holding even finer details. The prints once pressed up were as opaque as HSA prints but softer. And the they can be stretched a lot.

Offline Nation03

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2024, 09:10:58 AM »
And we do use a lot of DTF already for hats, koozies, tote bags, shorts, this and that, just not shirts. Yet. I do know things will change, but until then it's a giant sticker.

I would imagine that change coming in the form of removing the powder from the process, somehow incorporating as it's own printhead. This might also allow nice fades that don't need an underbase.
Or maybe skip the powder and go to a pretreat similar to dtg? Have any of that do these in house given that a try, might be a fun experiment. :-)                                             

That would be interesting to try. I might run a sample and throw it through the dryer with no powder and I'll try applying it to a pretreated shirt to see what the results are like.
I went to a local trade show here in Japan. There was a powder free system on display. They plan to release it in half a year or so. The glue is printed plus a clear base for holding even finer details. The prints once pressed up were as opaque as HSA prints but softer. And the they can be stretched a lot.

That sounds really cool. I'm curious how durable these print heads are.

Offline 3Deep

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2024, 10:23:15 AM »
The trick now with large prints of DTF is how to adjust the art for an all halftone print, so far I've did really large prints on black tees and the print is very soft and looks great, holds up good during washing, and I think there's a way to even do halftone on any colour shirt which makes DTF a game changer for large prints like the one here I posted. So it's all in the art prep little bit of a learning curve but if you do it every day or every other day you get the hang of it making it easier to know which art works best with the halftone method.  My biggest knock on DTF is the white ink clog (well maybe not DTF but my printer), but I still have a first gen converted machine which I know many have printers now that where built just to print DFT and my not have the white ink problems.
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Offline farmboygraphics

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2024, 10:35:06 AM »
As new as this model is, there is already a newer one you can pre-order.
https://dtfsuperstore.com/collections/mimaki-dtf/products/mimaki-txf150-75-dtf-printer-with-shaker-package
That's the 30 Grand I was referring to. I could order transfers, but I've always been a "do it in house" guy.
It also seems these require a climate controlled area to operate correctly, although I'm sure that will also change moving forward. 
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Offline GraphicDisorder

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2024, 12:56:31 PM »
I have yet to put my hands on a DTF print that id want to wear. Most of the time the print isn't even great. But a lot of that is who is doing the art. But the idea art can be made with DTF always in mind would be hard to do unless thats the only way you printed. I certainly wouldn't' want to go back editing files on files just to be able to print 1 garment or 10 garments every time. The time to do that would be hard to bill for.

DTF will improve, no doubt about it. But to be honest the whole thing feels to me just like DTG did for years. "gonna kill screen printing" and it never has.

I don't doubt there are people who have got some tricks and are doing good work with it, but I haven't seen that yet.
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Offline mk162

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2024, 01:46:28 PM »
I have yet to put my hands on a DTF print that id want to wear. Most of the time the print isn't even great. But a lot of that is who is doing the art. But the idea art can be made with DTF always in mind would be hard to do unless thats the only way you printed. I certainly wouldn't' want to go back editing files on files just to be able to print 1 garment or 10 garments every time. The time to do that would be hard to bill for.

DTF will improve, no doubt about it. But to be honest the whole thing feels to me just like DTG did for years. "gonna kill screen printing" and it never has.

I don't doubt there are people who have got some tricks and are doing good work with it, but I haven't seen that yet.

DTF feel is awesome, for small prints.  We just did the a 3 color flag on the sleeve of some navy tees and it looked and felt great.  If it was the full back it would have been terrible.

That said, I know  aguy that's doing his final press with a terrycloth dishtowel and he swears it gives it a better texture and makes it wear better.  I haven't tried it yet.

Offline GraphicDisorder

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #26 on: February 19, 2024, 02:45:26 PM »
I have yet to put my hands on a DTF print that id want to wear. Most of the time the print isn't even great. But a lot of that is who is doing the art. But the idea art can be made with DTF always in mind would be hard to do unless thats the only way you printed. I certainly wouldn't' want to go back editing files on files just to be able to print 1 garment or 10 garments every time. The time to do that would be hard to bill for.

DTF will improve, no doubt about it. But to be honest the whole thing feels to me just like DTG did for years. "gonna kill screen printing" and it never has.

I don't doubt there are people who have got some tricks and are doing good work with it, but I haven't seen that yet.

DTF feel is awesome, for small prints.  We just did the a 3 color flag on the sleeve of some navy tees and it looked and felt great.  If it was the full back it would have been terrible.

That said, I know  aguy that's doing his final press with a terrycloth dishtowel and he swears it gives it a better texture and makes it wear better.  I haven't tried it yet.

99.9999% of prints we do here have at least a large back or front. Large as in 15"w. Someone send me a DTF full size print like that that doesn't feel like crap and ill look at it.

In fact who here thinks they have this mastered, id like to buy a print.
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Offline Frog

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #27 on: February 19, 2024, 03:24:35 PM »
I have yet to put my hands on a DTF print that id want to wear. Most of the time the print isn't even great. But a lot of that is who is doing the art. But the idea art can be made with DTF always in mind would be hard to do unless thats the only way you printed. I certainly wouldn't' want to go back editing files on files just to be able to print 1 garment or 10 garments every time. The time to do that would be hard to bill for.

DTF will improve, no doubt about it. But to be honest the whole thing feels to me just like DTG did for years. "gonna kill screen printing" and it never has.

I don't doubt there are people who have got some tricks and are doing good work with it, but I haven't seen that yet.                                                 

DTF feel is awesome, for small prints.  We just did the a 3 color flag on the sleeve of some navy tees and it looked and felt great.  If it was the full back it would have been terrible.

That said, I know  aguy that's doing his final press with a terrycloth dishtowel and he swears it gives it a better texture and makes it wear better.  I haven't tried it yet.

Do you use anything for a second printing? A piece of pique or waffle knit fabric works quite well for me .

EDIT - That's second "pressing", not printing
« Last Edit: February 19, 2024, 04:41:14 PM by Frog »
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Offline mk162

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #28 on: February 19, 2024, 03:40:15 PM »
I have yet to put my hands on a DTF print that id want to wear. Most of the time the print isn't even great. But a lot of that is who is doing the art. But the idea art can be made with DTF always in mind would be hard to do unless thats the only way you printed. I certainly wouldn't' want to go back editing files on files just to be able to print 1 garment or 10 garments every time. The time to do that would be hard to bill for.

DTF will improve, no doubt about it. But to be honest the whole thing feels to me just like DTG did for years. "gonna kill screen printing" and it never has.

I don't doubt there are people who have got some tricks and are doing good work with it, but I haven't seen that yet.                                                 

DTF feel is awesome, for small prints.  We just did the a 3 color flag on the sleeve of some navy tees and it looked and felt great.  If it was the full back it would have been terrible.

That said, I know  aguy that's doing his final press with a terrycloth dishtowel and he swears it gives it a better texture and makes it wear better.  I haven't tried it yet.

Do you use anything for a second printing? A piece of pique or waffle knit fabric works quite well for me .

I generally don't, because our prints are small.  Texture doesn't really matter on a logo that's 3.5" wide.  I will definitely try it on a larger print when one comes through next.  I have on on the horizon, it's a jersey front with an 8" circle...full coverage.

Offline Maxie

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Re: DTF and the future of screen printing
« Reply #29 on: February 19, 2024, 04:22:49 PM »
DTF is the future, the problem for us silk screen printers is that it's easy for someone to set up a DTF at home and cut us  out.
There have been a lot of problems getting going with terrible printers and inks being sold, DTF can be a nightmare.     The biggest challenge is finding a good reliable printer with inks that give accurate colors.     The quality of the film and  TPU powder is also very important.
I have a Mutoh from STS, the new big printer (1628) they sell is much better than the smaller printer I have and their colors and washability are great.    I'll be upgrading soon.
I find that by putting the printed garment in my silk screen dryer I get a much softer result, and a it washes really well.     It's also faster than pressing the printed image a second time.
Our DTF is growing all the time, opens up a whole new market for colourful small runs.    Great for bags, books, umbrellas, etc.
We still run 2 MHMs for bigger or one color jobs, you cannot compare the production time or cost of screen printing to DTF on bigger runs.
I only use presses made in the USA, I don't trust the elements in the Chinese units and if a element is faulty it'll be really hard to see.    By the way we test by setting the press to a very high heat and pressing white paper, it'll go yellow where it is hot and stay white where the heat is uneven. 
One thing I do know is that my local plastisol suppliers are crying, their sales have dropped dramatically since the start of DTF.


Maxie Garb.
T Max Designs.
Silk Screen Printers
www.tmax.co.il