DTF Insider

DTF VS DTG Printing: Which Method is Better for Your Designs?

Sep 13, 2023


Sometimes, we admire a cool design on a t-shirt or any piece of fabric and think, "That's a cool design; I wish I had something like that." If you're one of those people who love having unique designs printed on posters, fabrics, or bags but need help figuring out how to go about it, this article is a must-read from start to finish.

DTF (Direct-to-Film) and DTG (Direct-to-Garment) printing techniques offer you the means to bring your designs to life on paper and fabrics. However, there exists a subtle yet significant difference between these two methods. DTF, or Direct-to-Film printing, allows you to imprint a design onto a film, while DTG, or Direct-to-Garment printing, enables you to print a design directly onto your clothing. Now, you might wonder why we have both these techniques when they seem quite similar. 

In this article, we aim to provide answers to this question and more. We will learn about each of these printing techniques, offering insights into how they work, highlighting the notable distinctions between them, and guiding you on when to opt for one over the other. 

What is Direct to Film Printing? 

Direct-to-Film (DTF) printing process where designs are printed on a transfer film using a heat-transfer print process. Later on, a thermo-adhesive powder is applied, and the design is transferred to the final fabric using a heat press. DTF transfers can be used on various clothing, including polyester, and on formerly difficult clothing colors like blue, green, red, and yellow.  

DTF Printing

How DTF Printing works: Step-by-Step Process? 

To print designs using a DTF printer, follow the below steps:   

  • You must begin by creating or selecting a digital design.
  • Then, use a DTF printer to print this design onto a special transfer film.
  • After printing, apply a thermo-adhesive powder to the printed design on the film.
  • You need to position the transfer film with the design and powder onto the fabric you want to customize.
  • Use a heat press machine to apply heat and pressure to the film.
  • The heat activates the thermo-adhesive powder, causing it to bond with the fabric.
  • This process transfers the design from the film directly onto the fabric.
  • Allow the fabric to cool down after the heat press process.
  • Once cooled, carefully peel away the transfer film.
  • The custom design is now permanently adhered to the fabric, creating a vibrant and long-lasting print.

What is DTG Printing?  

DTG (Direct-to-Garment) printing, on the other hand, is a modern way to print colorful designs on clothes. It's like using a normal inkjet printer, but instead of paper, it prints directly on fabrics like cotton. This method is great for making custom shirts and other fabric items. It can create detailed and vibrant designs that won't fade easily, even after washing.

Also Read: How to Store DTF Transfers: 10 Easy Steps

How does DTG Printing Works: Step-by-Step Process? 

Here's how DTG (Direct-to-Garment) printing works:  

  • You need to start by creating or selecting a digital design on a computer.
  • You must ensure the design is in a file format that the DTG printing program can read.
  • A pre-treatment solution may be applied to the garment for some fabrics, especially dark-colored ones.
  • Pre-treatment ensures that the ink adheres better and that the colors on the fabric are bright.
  • Place the garment on the platen of the DTG printer and fix it in position.
  • The DTG printer applies specialized textile ink directly onto the fabric's surface.
  • It precisely follows the design created earlier, printing complex details in full color.
  • The garment is often run through a heat press or curing machine after printing.
  • After this drying and curing procedure, the ink becomes permanent and washable
  • Inspect the printed garment for quality, ensuring colors and details meet expectations.
  • Once the print is dry and checked, the finished garment is folded or packaged for delivery or sale.

DTG Printing

What is the difference between DTF and DTG printing?

While both DTF and DTG techniques may seem similar on the surface, they are actually quite different. In this section, let's look at these significant differences. 


DTF Printers

DTG Printers

Print Quality and Durability

DTF printing offers excellent print quality and durability, with resistance to cracking and fading.

DTG printing also provides excellent quality and durability, but it may be less vibrant on dark fabrics and have a slightly rubbery feel.

Print Complexity 

DTF printing supports detailed, full-color designs, including photos and fine art.

DTG printing also supports detailed designs but may be affected by fabric absorption, impacting clarity.

Color vibrancy  

DTF printing produces vibrant and vivid prints on all fabric colors.

DTG printing is vibrant on colored fabrics but does not use a white base for white fabric prints.

Fabric Suitability 

DTF printing can be used on various fabrics, including synthetic blends, leather, canvas, paper and many more...

DTG printing is best suited for natural fabrics like cotton and linen.


DTF printing uses water-based, non-toxic inks and generates minimal waste. 

DTG printing uses water-based vegan inks and is also eco-friendly, with reduced water usage.

Upfront Investment 

No upfront investment is required when partnering with a print-on-demand company for DTF printing. 

No upfront investment is required when partnering with a print-on-demand company for DTF printing.


DTF and DTG: What Designs Each Printing Process is Better for?

Upon understanding the differences, it is now time to look at what designs each printing process is better for.  

When to choose DTF Printing? 

  • If you plan to sell products made from cotton to synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, or fleece. DTF works wonders on any type of garment.
  • If you want detailed and colorful designs that are also vivid and sharp.

When to choose DTG Printing? 

  • If you are planning to sell cotton garments or products made from natural materials.
  • If you want uncomplicated designs such as texts, logos, or graphic art.
  • DTG printing can also handle colorful images and designs.

DTF and DTG printing: Which One Will You Choose?  

In this article, we have learned about DTF and DTG printing techniques, how each of these techniques works, the key differences between these techniques, and when to choose each.

Try both techniques if you still need to decide which best suits your printing and design needs. But if your focus is on intricate designs and speedy production, DTG printing is your best choice.

On the other hand, if you're aiming for vibrant colors, versatility across different fabrics, and long-lasting durability, DTF printing emerges as the perfect option. 

Why Choose DTF-NC for Printing your Designs?

DTF-NC should be your go-to place for printing transfers. We're fellow creatives, and we understand precisely what you need. Whether it's printing any design or transferring it onto a wide range of products, materials, or colors, we excel in delivering outstanding durability. Choose DTF-NC for all your printing needs and witness exceptional quality and longevity in every design. 

DTF Transfers

FAQs for DTF and DTG 

Q. What is better DTF or DTG? 

A. The choice between DTF and DTG printing depends on your specific needs. If you prioritize vibrant colors, versatility across different fabrics, and long-lasting durability, DTF printing is the better option. However, if intricate designs and printing on cotton garments are your focus, then DTG printing is the preferred choice. 

Q. Is DTF more expensive than DTG?

A. The cost of DTF and DTG printing can vary depending on factors like design complexity, fabric type, and order quantity. Generally, DTF printing may be more cost-effective for larger, colorful designs on various fabric types. In contrast, DTG printing could be more cost-effective for smaller, intricate designs on cotton garments. It's recommended to request quotes from printing service providers for accurate pricing comparisons.

Q. What is the disadvantage of DTF?

A. One disadvantage of DTF (Direct-to-Film) printing is that it may not be suitable for very large designs as it can make the garment less comfortable for extended wear due to reduced breathability. Additionally, DTF prints can develop small cracks if garments are washed in very hot water. 

Q. Does DTF last as long as screen printing?  

A. DTF (Direct-to-Film) printing will outlast Screen printing any day of any year. Screen prints start cracking and deteriorating easily whereas DTF transfers will handle over 70 hot/cold wash cycles without showing any sign of degradation, fading, or cracking. Not all DTF transfers are the same, as DTFNC we have a certain quality standard we uphold ourselves to. Our transfers hold onto its quality in terms of vibrancy, vividity, and durability with no show of degradation for over 70 wash cycles. 

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