DTF Printing Essential Terminologies You Should Know


Here's a comprehensive list of DTF transfer, printing, business, and private label-related terminologies that everyone should know and understand. We've bolded the most important terms for your convenience. This is going to up game and definitely turn you into a Superstar.

  1. PET Film: A key component in DTF printing, PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) film acts as the carrier for the ink and adhesive powder before transfer. It's known for its clarity, strength, and compatibility with water-based inks.
  2. Adhesive Powder: Essential for DTF printing, this finely ground powder is applied to the printed film, melting and bonding the ink to the fabric during the heat press process.
  3. Tier 1 and Tier 2 Processes: Refers to different levels of DTF printing techniques, from basic to advanced, affecting the quality, durability, and application efficiency of the transfers.
  4. Eco-Friendly DTF Printing: As sustainability becomes more important, DTF printing is evolving to include more eco-friendly practices, such as using biodegradable films and non-toxic inks.
  5. Hybrid Printing: Combining DTF with other printing techniques (such as DTG or screen printing) to achieve unique effects or to overcome material limitations.
  6. 4-Pass and 6-Pass Printing: Terms used to describe the number of times a printer's printhead passes over the same area of the film, affecting print quality and production time.
  7. i3200 Printhead: A popular print head model used in many high-quality DTF printers, known for its precision and reliability.
  8. CMYKW Printing: Extending the CMYK color model with the addition of white ink, crucial for vibrant prints on dark or colored substrates.
  9. Durability Testing: The process of evaluating the longevity and wear resistance of DTF prints through wash and stretch tests.
  10. Color Profiling for DTF: The calibration of colors in the DTF printing process to ensure accurate color reproduction across different substrates and ink batches.
  11. DTF (Direct-to-Film): An advanced printing method where designs are printed onto a special film and then heat pressed onto various materials.
  12. Heat Press: A machine used to apply heat and pressure to transfer designs from DTF films onto various substrates.
  13. Transfer Film: The specialized film onto which designs are printed using DTF technology before being transferred to the final material.
  14. Water-Based Inks: Environmentally friendly inks used in DTF printing that offer vibrant colors and excellent wash durability.
  15. Pretreatment: The process of preparing materials before applying DTF transfers to ensure better adhesion and print quality.
  16. Curing: The process of applying heat to set the ink after the design has been transferred to the material, ensuring durability.
  17. RIP Software: Raster Image Processing software used for color management, resizing images, and optimizing print settings for DTF printers.

White Ink: Special ink used in DTF printing to create a white underbase layer for full-color prints on dark-colored materials.

  • Color Gamut: The range of colors that can be reproduced by a printer or displayed on a screen.
  • Substrates: The materials onto which DTF transfers are applied, such as textiles, garments, and accessories.
  • Private Label: A brand owned by a retailer or supplier that sources products from manufacturers and sells them under its own label.
  • MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity): The smallest number of units that a supplier is willing to produce or sell in a single order.
  • Custom Labeling: The process of adding your brand's logo, name, or other unique identifiers to products sourced from suppliers for resale.
  • Screen Printing: A traditional printing method where ink is forced through mesh screens onto substrates to create designs.
  • Plastisol: Oil-based ink commonly used in screen printing due to its durability and vibrant colors but less eco-friendly than water-based inks.
  • Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV): A type of material used to create custom designs that are cut using a cutting machine and then heat pressed onto fabrics.
  • Direct-to-Garment (DTG): A digital printing method where designs are printed directly onto textiles using specialized inkjet printers.
  • Sublimation: A printing technique where heat-sensitive dyes are transferred from paper to polyester materials using heat and pressure, resulting in permanent prints with no feel on the surface.

Must-Know Terminologies for Creating Artwork for Optimal DTF Results

When creating artwork for DTF printing, it's essential to understand the following terminologies to ensure the best results:

  • File Formats: Common file formats used in DTF artwork include PNG, TIFF, and PSD. These formats support transparency and are suitable for high-quality designs.
  • Transparent Background: A crucial aspect of DTF artwork where the design has no background color or pattern, allowing the substrate's color to show through.
  • DPI (Dots Per Inch): A measure of print resolution that refers to the number of printed dots within one inch. Higher DPI values result in better print quality. For DTF printing, a minimum of 300 DPI is recommended.
  • Resolution: The level of detail in an image, often expressed in pixels per inch (PPI) or DPI. Higher resolution images provide better print quality.
  • Quality: The overall appearance and durability of the final print, influenced by factors such as DPI, resolution, ink type, and substrate choice.
  • Sizing: The process of adjusting your design dimensions to fit appropriately on your chosen substrate. Proper sizing is crucial for accurate placement and appearance on the final product.
  • CMYK Color Mode: Stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black), which are the four primary colors used in most digital printers. When designing artwork for DTF printing, use CMYK color mode to ensure accurate color reproduction.
  • RGB Color Mode: Stands for Red, Green, and Blue, the primary colors used in electronic displays. RGB should be converted to CMYK before printing to avoid color discrepancies.
  • Color Profiling: The process of matching colors between devices (such as monitors, scanners, and printers) using standardized color profiles to ensure accurate color reproduction throughout the entire workflow.
  • Vector Graphics: A type of image created using mathematical equations rather than pixels. Vector graphics are ideal for DTF artwork because they can be resized without losing quality or sharpness.
  • Raster Graphics: Images made up of individual pixels, like photographs. Raster graphics can lose quality when resized, so it's essential to create them at a high resolution from the start.

Best Practices for Creating Artwork for DTF Printing:

  • Create your designs in CMYK color mode to ensure accurate color reproduction during printing.
  • Design your artwork at a minimum resolution of 300 DPI for optimal print quality.
  • Use transparent backgrounds in your designs to allow the substrate's color to show through seamlessly.
  • Size your artwork appropriately for the desired placement on your chosen substrate.
  • Ensure that all text and design elements are within printable areas and clear of seams or edges that may affect print quality.
  • If possible, use vector graphics for crisp details and easy resizing without loss of quality. If you must use raster images, make sure they are created at a high resolution from the start.

By understanding these crucial terminologies, you'll be better prepared to achieve outstanding results on your custom apparel projects. If you're bold enough to take the jump. Place an order for our free sample pack.