We recently published a comprehensive article about the Uninet DTF1000 direct-to-film printer. We covered the pros and cons of DTF transfer printing, and how it compares to other garment decoration technologies. And, although that article touches briefly on the DTF process, we didn't go into much detail. So, for those who are new to DTF and want a more detailed look at how it works, this is your blog article. Continue reading for a step by step pictorial guide to how to creat custom apparel with a DTF 1000 direct-to-film printer.
Step One: RIP & Print
Each Uninet DTF printer comes bundled with DTF ProRIP, a queue-based RIP software program designed specifically for direct-to-film transfers. ProRIP is not a design application. You can create your art in any number of apps, including Adobe Creative Suite, LXI, FlexiSign, Flexi Designer, CreateSpace, or CorelDRAW. Here, we have an image from our SIGNWarehouse Pro digital downloads library, which has been lightly edited in Photoshop and saved as a flat .png file with a transparent background.
All we have to do is add it to the queue, size it to fit the DTF1000's 13-inch film and send the job to the printer.
Step Two: Add Adhesive Powder
While the print is still wet, cut it off from the film roll. Place a small amount of DTF adhesive powder on the print so that the powder comes into contact with the entire printed area. The goal here is to lightly coat the wet ink with a layer of powder. If you're using a manual process, you can simply lower the print into a small tub and move the film back and forth, allowing the powder to slide across the surface of the film, as seen below.*
Step Three: Cure the Print
Once the print is lightly coated, brush off any excess powder, and place the print in a DTF heat station - coated side up. The heat station should be set to 120°C (250°F). Place the print in the heat station, close the lid and cure for 2 minutes.*
Once the print is removed from the heat station, the cured ink & powder should have a visible 'orange peel' texture, as seen below
Step Four: Heat Press
Place your target garment on a heat press. Place the print on the apparel, image side down, as seen below.
- For cotton and blended garments, set the heat press for 10 - 12 seconds, with medium to firm pressure (60lbs), at 300 - 325°F.
- For Polyester and tri-blends, press for 8 - 10 seconds with medium pressure, at 265 - 275°F.
- Click here for complete, detailed instructions for decorating various fabrics.
Step Five: Peel Cold
Remove the shirt from the heat press and allow it to cool to room temperature. This usually takes less than five minutes. Placing the shirt on a work table away from the heat press will speed this step. Once the film is cool to the touch, start at one corner and roll the film away from the shirt, as seen below.
Step Six: Re-Press to Fix the Transfer
After the film is removed, place the transfer on the heat press. Use the same temperature and pressure. Cover with a sheet of matte Kraft paper, and re-press for 5 - 10 seconds. This step is very important. It fixes the ink into the fabric and makes the applied transfer more durable. Properly applied DTF transfers should last for up to 100 wash cycles**. Skipping this final step may result in transfers that are not as flexible or durable as expected.
* Please Note: This equipment requires a well-ventilated area with a filtration system. When working with DTF products and processes, use appropriate personal protective equipment since fumes might be harmful. DTF inks and film/sheets need an adequate humidity environment - above 50% humidity is strongly advised to reduce the possibility of ink clogs and film buckling.
** All custom decorated apparel should be laundered inside-out, in cold water. Avoid the use of bleach and/or harsh detergents.