direct to film transfers

Direct To Film Transfers

If you are looking for some basic, introductory information on direct to film transfers, then you are in the right place! I will show you how you can take your digital designs or artwork, and easily transfer it onto fabric. It’s like waving a wand and making your ideas come to life!

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I had the opportunity to travel to the 143Vinyl headquarters and see the direct to film transfers process in person and I cannot wait to share what I learned with you! While I know that there are some home DTF machines out there, in this article I will be sharing what I learned about the large scale machines I saw at 143Vinyl.

What are Direct To Film Transfers?

Creating these transfers, commonly called DTF transfers, involves a process of taking a graphic and printing it onto a piece of film. I have a video of the process that you can see HERE. There are large rolls of film that are loaded into one side of the machine. As the film travels through the machine, it goes through the different steps in the process.

The first step is printing the design onto the film. After the full color design is printed, a white ink is placed over the top of it and forms an understructure to the design. This white ink also helps the colors of the design to pop when it is placed on a dark colored fabric.

After printing, an adhesive powder is spread evenly across the design while it is still wet. This allows the powder to stick to the design, but not the film. This powder plays a crucial role in preparing the process forming a thin, uniform layer over the ink. Then the film travels through the back of the machine where the transfer is cured.

After the film comes out of the machine it feeds onto a roll on the back of the machine. When that roll is filled, it is cut off and the whole roll of transfers is taken to a table where they cut each order apart and prepare it for shipping. Then the customer can simply press the design onto any fabric they want!

If you are a business owner and would like to own one of the DTF machines you saw in my video, please contact me for more details! This machine would be a great addition to your shop!

What are the benefits of Direct To Film Transfers?

Direct to Film transfers have several benefits that are quickly making them the preferred choice among home crafters, designers and apparal embellishing companies. Here are some of the big advantages:

  • Versatility: Direct to film transfers are highly versatile, allowing you to put your designs on a larger variety of surfaces. Many people prefer DTF to sublimation because you are not restricted to using fabrics that are white or light colored, and have a high polyester count.
  • Color Vibrancy: DTF technology enables the reproduction of vibrant and detailed colors. The prints often exhibit a high level of color saturation and clarity, making them visually appealing and suitable for intricate designs.
  • Durability: As home crafters, we never like it when we see our hard work fade and crack after washing. That is why I will only be using DTF instead of Printable Heat Transfer sheets going forward!
  • Ease of Use: The DTF process is relatively straightforward, especially for those who may not be familiar with complex printing techniques. You can send your designs to companies like 143Vinyl and then they send you your print ready to press!
  • Detailed Printing: DTF transfers excel in capturing fine details and nuances in designs. Whether you’re working on intricate patterns, photographs, or text, the process ensures that the final print accurately represents the original image.
  • Adaptability to Various Materials: DTF transfers adhere well to different types of materials, providing excellent durability and versatility. This makes it suitable for creating custom apparel, promotional items, and personalized products with a wide range of textures. Again, this is another reason people are moving from sublimation to DTF.
  • Cost-Effective: Direct to film transfers are a cost-effective option. It allows for on-demand printing without the need for large quantities, making it ideal for personalized or limited-edition projects. I plan to do a full article just about the cost compared to other options.
  • Quick Turnaround: The DTF process often offers a relatively quick turnaround time. This is advantageous for those who need to produce custom prints with shorter lead times, making it a practical choice for businesses and individuals alike.
  • No Minimum Order Requirements: Unlike some traditional printing methods, DTF doesn’t typically have minimum order requirements. This is beneficial for individuals or small businesses who may not need large quantities of printed materials.
  • Customization and Personalization: DTF transfers enable easy customization and personalization of designs. This is especially appealing for those who enjoy creating unique, one-of-a-kind items or offering personalized products to customers.

How to get started with Direct To Film Transfers

If you are like me, you are thinking how do I even get started in creating DTF transfers for personal use or to create your own small business. You will be happy to know that you do not need to be an artist! There are pre-designed project that you can order right now!

143Vinyl has a library of designs that you can access HERE. Just find a design you like and click Start Project to be taken to their Layout Designer where you can size your design to your needs.

MyCraftSource.com also has pre-designed DTF transfers, including ones picked out by me! You can find those by clicking HERE. And don’t forget to use coupon code ShawnMosch to save 5% when you shop at MyCraftSource.com!

If you do not find a design that you like from those resources, you could purchase a PNG design on sites like Etsy or Creative Fabrica. And if you have never used Creative Fabrica, you can gets started with a free month from me by clicking HERE. You can find additional resources for finding PNG designs in the Fonts, Images and SVG Files section of my Deals page HERE.

Once you have a design you like in a PNG file format, upload that PNG file to either 143Vinyl or MyCraftSource to have them print it out for you.

If you are a business owner and would like to own one of the DTF machines you saw in my video, please contact me for more details! This machine would be a great addition to your shop!

Can I make direct to film transfers at home?

Yes, there are machines that allow you to create direct to film transfers at home. I know at the beginning of this article I said I was not going to talk about home DTF machines, but I do want to address why. For me, the biggest reasons are safety and specifically having good ventilation. For those two reasons alone, I personally cannot recommend a home DTF machine.

While direct to film transfers can be a convenient and versatile method for creating personalized prints at home, it’s important to be aware of potential risks and take necessary precautions. Here are some considerations:

  1. Chemical Exposure: DTF printing involves the use of chemicals, including inks and pre-treatment solutions. Users should follow safety guidelines provided by manufacturers to minimize the risk of skin contact, inhalation, or accidental ingestion.
  2. Equipment Safety: Follow safety instructions provided by the manufacturer to avoid injuries, burns, or damage to the equipment. Keep electrical components away from liquids and follow proper maintenance procedures.
  3. Adhesive Powder Handling: The adhesive powder used in the DTF process can create fine particles that may become airborne. Wear a mask and use protective eyewear to prevent inhalation or eye irritation. Clean up any spilled powder promptly and avoid direct contact with the skin.
  4. Ventilation: Proper ventilation is crucial when working with any printing process. Ensure your workspace is well-ventilated to reduce exposure to fumes, especially if using certain types of inks or chemicals. Consider using a fume extractor if necessary. Ensure proper ventilation in your workspace. This is why I like the idea of just sending my designs to someone else who has the proper ventilation system set up to produce these transfers.
  5. Dust Control: The DTF process may generate dust, especially during the application of adhesive powder. Minimize dust exposure by using containment methods, such as enclosures or screens, and clean up any residue promptly. This is particularly important if you have respiratory issues.
  6. Ink Safety: Some inks used in DTF printing may contain substances that could be harmful. Familiarize yourself with the safety data sheets (SDS) provided by the ink manufacturer. Use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling inks and follow guidelines for safe disposal.
  7. Fire Hazard: Take precautions to prevent fire hazards by ensuring the proper functioning of equipment, avoiding overloading electrical circuits, and having fire extinguishing equipment nearby.
  8. Maintenance and Calibration: Regular maintenance and calibration of your DTF printing equipment are essential for safe and effective operation. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance tasks to prevent malfunctions or accidents.
  9. Training and Education: Ensure that you are adequately trained on the use of DTF equipment and materials. Stay informed about best practices, safety guidelines, and any updates or recalls related to the products you use.
  10. Children and Pets: If you have children or pets in your household, take extra precautions to keep them away from the printing area. Store chemicals and equipment in a secure location, and avoid leaving the workspace unattended when operating the equipment.

Always refer to the specific guidelines and safety instructions provided by the manufacturers of your DTF equipment, inks, and materials. If you have any concerns or questions about safety, consider consulting with professionals or experts in the field.

More to come!

I plan to do more videos and articles about how to create your own designs for direct to film transfers, and using the Layout Designer from 143Vinyl. I also want to help you get the best price on blanks like shirts to put your direct to film transfers on. And of course we need to talk about the best way to apply your designs to those shirts!

If there are other questions you have about creating or using these direct to film transfers please let me know. And stay tuned for information on UV DTF transfers! These are going to change the way you think about decorating things like tumblers, cups and mugs!

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