UV DTF Printing: High-Tech Innovation Meets Creative Customization

UV DTF Printing: High-Tech Innovation Meets Creative Customization


UV DTF (Direct-to-Film) printing is a revolutionary technology that is transforming the printing industry. It utilizes specialized UV printers and inks to print directly onto films, enabling countless new applications and possibilities. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of the machines used in UV DTF and how they enable this innovative printing process.

Key Takeaways

  • UV DTF printing allows direct printing onto films using UV-curable inks for transfer to various substrates.
  • Specialized UV DTF printers with UV lamps are used along with UV-curable inks and transfer films.
  • Leading UV DTF printer manufacturers include ColDesi, EFI, Mimaki, Mutoh, and Roland.
  • UV DTF enables high print quality onto films for countless applications like packaging, signage, textiles, product decoration.
  • Benefits of UV DTF include high quality, durability, versatility, efficiency, and cost-effective short runs.

What is UV DTF Printing?

UV DTF printing allows direct printing onto films using UV-curable inks that instantly cure and bond to the film when exposed to UV light. This enables printing of vibrant, durable, and high-resolution graphics on films that can then be transferred to various substrates.

The key components that enable UV DTF printing are:

  • UV DTF Printers: Specialized printers designed for UV DTF printing. They dispense UV-curable inks and contain UV lamps to instantly cure the inks.
  • UV-Curable Inks: Specially formulated inks that cure and bond instantly when exposed to UV light. This allows printing directly onto films.
  • Transfer Films: Specialty films that the UV inks adhere to, allowing the printed graphics to be transferred to various substrates.

The UV DTF process typically involves:

  1. Printing graphics onto a transfer film using a UV DTF printer and UV-curable inks.
  2. Applying a transfer adhesive onto the printed film.
  3. Transferring the printed film to the substrate using heat and pressure.
  4. Peeling away the transfer film, leaving the printed graphic permanently bonded to the substrate.

This enables direct printing onto films for transfer to countless substrates like plastics, glass, wood, textiles, and more.

Key Machines Used in UV DTF Printing

There are several specialized machines that enable the UV DTF printing process. The key machines are:

  • UV DTF Printers:
    • Flatbed UV DTF Printers: Allow printing directly onto flat films/substrates placed on the print bed.
    • Roll-to-Roll UV DTF Printers: Designed for flexible transfer films in rolls.
    • Hybrid UV DTF Printers: Combine roll and flatbed capabilities.

These printers dispense UV-curable inks precisely and contain UV lamps to instantly cure the inks onto the films. Popular printhead technologies include piezo, Kyocera, and Ricoh.

Key specifications to look for in UV DTF printers include:

  • Print size/format (ex. A4, A3)
  • Print resolution (600x600 dpi minimum recommended)
  • Ink capabilities - CMYK plus White, Clear, Primer inks
  • UV lamp type and power
  • Printhead model, number of printheads
  • Print speed
  • Supported transfer films and substrates

Leading UV DTF printer manufacturers include ColDesi, EFI, Mimaki, Mutoh, Roland, and others.

  • Laminators/Overlaminators:
    Laminators are machines used to apply a protective transfer adhesive film over the printed transfer film. This allows the ink to bond securely to the substrate during transfer.

    There are thermal laminators that use heat, and cold roll laminators. Cold roll laminators are recommended for UV DTF to avoid damaging the prints with excess heat.

    Key specifications for laminators are the width, thickness capacity, speed, temperature control, and rollers. Having adjustable temperature and speed is recommended for optimal lamination.

  • Heat Presses:
    Heat press machines are used to transfer the printed and laminated films onto the final substrate using heat and pressure. They enable even application of heat and pressure to ensure proper bonding.

    Different types of heat presses used for UV DTF transfer include:

    • Flatbed heat presses: For flat substrates like garments, hats, plates, etc.
    • 3D heat presses: For curved/irregular substrates like mugs, bottles, electronics.
    • Pneumatic heat presses: Use air pressure; suitable for delicate substrates.
    • Draw heat presses: Have heated drawers to surround substrates completely with heat.

    Key specifications are the platens size, max temperature, pressure/force capacity, heat-up time, and timer/controls. Having adjustable temperature, pressure, and dwell time is recommended.

  • Additional Equipment:

Some additional equipment that facilitates the UV DTF process includes:

  • RIP Software: Used to prepare and optimize print files for the UV DTF printer. Allows color management, layering white/clear inks, etc.
  • Print Carts: Hold transfer films and feed into UV DTF printers.
  • Conveyor Dryers: Use heat to further cure inks after printing.
  • Roll Laminators: Laminate roll films; faster than pouch laminators.
  • Finishing Equipment: Cutters, weeders, etc. for finishing transfer prints.

UV DTF Printer Manufacturers

There are several leading manufacturers producing UV DTF printing equipment and inks:

  • ColDesi:
    ColDesi is an industry pioneer in UV DTF printing equipment. Their UV DTF product lineup includes:
    • Anvil UV DTF Printers: Flatbed UV DTF printers available in sizes up to 60"" wide.
    • Storm UV DTF Printers: Hybrid roll/flatbed UV DTF printers up to 98"" wide.
    • Rhino UV DTF Printers: Industrial roll-to-roll UV DTF printers up to 126"" wide.

    All their UV DTF printers offer CMYK + White + Clear ink capabilities and high print resolutions. ColDesi also produces UV DTF inks, films, and other consumables.

  • EFI:
    EFI offers the VUTEk DTF printers which come in hybrid roll/flatbed and industrial roll-to-roll configurations. Key models include:
    • VUTEk DTF 200 - Flatbed/Roll UV DTF printer
    • VUTEk DTF 300 - 3.2m wide roll UV DTF printer

    All models print CMYK plus white ink and offer high-end print quality with resolutions up to 1200 dpi. EFI also provides UV DTF inks.

  • Mimaki:
    Mimaki offers the UJV100-160 UV DTF printer which is a 1.6m wide roll-to-roll UV DTF printer capable of printing CMYK plus white and clear inks. It offers up to 1200x1200 dpi resolution. Mimaki also provides matching UV DTF inks.
  • Mutoh:
    Mutoh offers the ValueJet 426UF UV DTF printer. It is a 42"" wide hybrid UV DTF printer capable of roll or flatbed printing using CMYK, white, and clear inks. Print resolution is up to 1440x1440 dpi.
  • Roland:
    Roland offers the VersaUV LEF2 series UV DTF printers in 20"", 30"", and 50"" print widths. They print CMYK plus white and gloss inks at up to 1440x720 dpi resolution. Roland also produces UV DTF inks and films.

UV DTF Films

The transfer films used in UV DTF printing are specially designed to receive the UV-curable inks and transfer the prints to substrates. Common films include:

  • PET Films: Polyester films provide a glossy printable surface. Most common UV DTF film.
  • PVC Films: Smooth PVC films work for UV DTF printing as well.
  • Polypropylene Films: A more economical film option.
  • Custom Films: Some suppliers offer proprietary film formulations designed for UV DTF.

The films are coated to receive the inks and are available in various thickness and roll sizes. They are loaded into the UV DTF printers as roll or sheet media.


UV DTF printers employ specialized UV-curable inks designed to instantly cure upon exposure to UV light. Typical UV DTF ink sets include:

  • CMYK Inks: Provide full color printing capabilities.
  • White Ink: Creates an opaque white base for printing on transparent or colored media.
  • Clear Ink: Used as a spot varnish or overall protective layer.
  • Primer Ink: Promotes ink adhesion to difficult substrates.
  • Adhesive Ink: Replaces separate lamination film; bonds prints to substrates.

The inks are carefully formulated to cure instantly under UV light and bond properly to the transfer films. Leading ink manufacturers include ColDesi, EFI, Mimaki, Mutoh, Roland, and others.

Applications of UV DTF Printing

The abilities of UV DTF printing enable a huge range of applications, including:

  • Packaging: Printing directly onto films allows high-quality package printing and prototyping on films like PET, PP, PVC.
  • Signage and Display Graphics: Durable and vibrant prints ideal for retail displays, window graphics, POP displays.
  • Promotional Products: Print directly onto tech accessories like phone cases, laptop sleeves, USB drives.
  • Apparel and Textile Printing: Ability to print high-resolution photorealistic images on textiles.
  • Product Decoration: Decorate consumer products like electronics, appliances, furniture, sporting goods.
  • 3D/Dimensional Printing: Ability to print onto curved and irregular surfaces by printing onto transfer films first.

As UV DTF technology continues advancing, even more applications will be possible. Any substrate that can be printed on with UV inks can benefit from the UV DTF transfer process.

Benefits of UV DTF Printing

There are several key benefits that make UV DTF printing so innovative and beneficial:

  • High Print Quality: Photorealistic quality with resolutions up to 1440 dpi onto films.
  • Ink Durability: Instant-curing UV inks are durable, scratch/fade resistant.
  • Wide Substrate Compatibility: Ability to transfer prints to almost any substrate.
  • Supports Irregular Surfaces: Transfer films enable printing onto curved, 3D objects.
  • High Efficiency: Fast print speeds; UV lamps cure instantly.
  • Versatile Printing Options: Flatbed, roll, and hybrid printers available.
  • On-Demand Printing: Enables short runs and quick turnaround.
  • Creativity and Customization: Print unique graphics, customization not possible with other methods.
  • Cost-Effective Short Runs: Low setup costs ideal for small batches.

UV DTF opens up a whole new world of printing capabilities compared to traditional methods. It strikes the ideal balance between high print quality, customization, and efficiency.

The Future of UV DTF Printing

UV DTF printing is still a relatively new technology that is rapidly evolving. Here are some developments we are likely to see:

  • Faster Print Speeds: Printer and ink enhancements will continue increasing output speeds.
  • Wider Format Printing: Printers will expand to wider roll and flatbed sizes.
  • White Ink Opacity: Improvements in white ink density/opacity.
  • Clear Ink Formulations: More advanced clear varnish ink capabilities.
  • Hybrid Printing Integration: Combining UV DTF with other print methods like digital or screen printing.
  • Ink Adhesion Developments: Stronger bonding between UV inks and diverse substrates.
  • Equipment Usability Improvements: More automation, workflow software integration.
  • Expanded Applications: New capabilities like printing electronics, thermoforming, etc.

UV DTF printing technology has huge potential for continued growth. We can expect even more accessible and advanced UV DTF solutions as the technology progresses.


What are the main types of UV DTF printers?
The main types of UV DTF printers are flatbed, roll-to-roll, and hybrid printers. Flatbed printers allow printing directly onto flat films or substrates. Roll-to-roll printers are designed for flexible transfer films in rolls. Hybrid printers combine roll and flatbed capabilities.

What specifications should you look for in a UV DTF printer?
Key specifications include print size/format, resolution, ink capabilities (CMYK plus White, Clear), UV lamp type, printhead model and number, print speed, and supported transfer films and substrates.

What transfer films are commonly used in UV DTF?
Common UV DTF transfer films include PET, PVC, polypropylene, and proprietary custom films. They are coated to receive the UV inks and are available in various thicknesses and roll sizes.

What types of UV inks are used in UV DTF printing?
Typical UV DTF ink sets include CMYK colors, White ink for opacity on transparent/colored media, Clear ink for spot varnish or protective layers, Primer ink for adhesion, and Adhesive ink to replace separate lamination films.


UV DTF printing provides digital direct-to-film printing capabilities that tremendously expand the possibilities for print and package prototyping, customization, and on-demand production.

The specialized UV DTF printers, inks, and films enable high-resolution photorealistic quality onto transfer films that can be applied to almost any substrate. This allows endless customization and decoration options for all types of consumer products.

UV DTF strikes an ideal balance between print quality, versatility, efficiency and economics. As the technology continues advancing, it will become an even more prominent solution for a wide range of printing and manufacturing needs across many industries.

The future is bright for UV DTF printing and the innovations it enables. These specialized machines are truly transforming printing as we know it.

Expand your knowledge of UV DTF by watching our detailed explanation on YouTube.

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