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.

Uninet DTF ProRIP screen shot. Step one in the DTF proces

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.

DTF Process: Step one. Print image on film

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.*

DTF Process: Step two. apply adhesive powder while the ink is wet.

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.*DTF Process: Step three. place print in DTF heat station

Once the print is removed from the heat station, the cured ink & powder should have a visible 'orange peel' texture, as seen below

DTF Process: Step three. Remove print from heat station. Orange peel texture should be visible

 Step Four: Heat Press

 Place your target garment on a heat press. Place the print on the apparel, image side down, as seen below.

DTF Process: Step Four: Place on heat press.

 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.

DTF Process: Step Five. Peel Cold

 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.

DTF Process: Done. completed DTF transfer on cotton shirt.


* 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.