DTG vs DTF vs Sublimation: What Are the Differences?

1. DTG vs DTF vs Sublimation: What Are the Differences?

DTG (Direct-to-Garment), DTF (Direct-to-Film), and sublimation are three distinct printing technologies, each with its own unique characteristics and applications. Understanding the differences between them is crucial for choosing the right method for your specific printing needs. Here’s a comprehensive overview of each technique, DTG vs DTF vs Sublimation:

2. DTG (Direct-to-Garment) Printing:

Process: DTG printing involves using a specialised printer to apply ink directly onto the fabric, similar to how a traditional inkjet paper printer operates at home or office. Needs pretreatment to enhance CMYK colours or when using white ink.

Materials: Usually more suitable for cotton or cotton-blend fabrics.

Print texture: The image on a DTG garment tends to feel a bit rough as the ink bonds with the fabric when a underbase is used. You can correct that heat pressing the garment with parchment paper.

Colour Limitations: While it can reproduce detailed and colourful designs, it may face challenges with colour matching due to CMYK limited gamut.

Advantages: Ideal for small and large* production runs, detailed designs, and high-quality prints.
*Depending on the type of your printer.

3.DTF (Direct-to-Film) Printing:

Process: DTF entails printing the design onto a special film, which is then transferred to the fabric using heat and pressure. No pretreatment of the fabric is required, but a powder must be applied after the image has been transferred to the film to prevent the ink from running or forming streaks.  

Materials: Works effectively on a variety of fabrics, including cotton, polyester, and blends.  

Print texture: Although the print initially has a plastic feel and may be slightly stiff, it may soften after a few washes. 

Colour Limitations: Offers vibrant and detailed prints, even on dark-coloured fabrics. Advantages: Known for its versatility, especially for fabrics other than cotton, and allows for intricate designs with good colour saturation.  

4.Sublimation Printing:  

Process: Sublimation involves transferring dye into the fabric using heat, where the dye turns into a gas and permeates the fabric’s fibres. The design is printed on a transfer paper and after that it is transferred to the fabric.  

Materials: Ideal for polyester or materials with a polyester coating.  

Print texture: It feels just like the rest of the fabric, ensuring a smooth and comfortable wear without any discernible difference in texture.  

Colour Limitations: Provides vibrant and durable colours, particularly on white or light-coloured fabrics, but not suitable for dark fabrics.  

Advantages: Produces high-quality, long-lasting prints with excellent colour reproduction.  

5. Final words:

In conclusion, each printing method offers unique benefits and limitations, making it essential to consider various factors when choosing the most suitable option.

Direct-to-Garment (DTG) printing is ideal for intricate designs on cotton and mixed fibres fabrics, while Direct-to-Film (DTF) printing offers versatility across different fabric types. On the other hand, sublimation printing stands out for its ability to produce vibrant prints on polyester-based materials.

By understanding these distinctions and considering the type of fabric, desired print quality, and intended use of the final product, you can make a well-informed decision when selecting the most suitable printing technology for your specific needs. This knowledge empowers you to achieve the best results for your printing projects while maximising the impact and longevity of your designs.

6. Want to learn more?

Check out this online course that might help you: How to Put Your Art on a t-shirt. In this online course, we will talk about which file formats are suitable for the different t-shirt printing methods.

Also have a look at our DTG printing online course for more info on DTG printing business and t-shirt design.

7 – Do you have a question too?

If you have any questions or feedback, please comment or email us at ask@dtgmerch.com

Until next time, all the best, take care and be good!

The DTGMerch Team