Direct-to-garment (DTG) and direct-to-film (DTF) are newer decoration methods that have garnered a lot of attention and often get compared to each other, as well as, white toner technology.
Often when people are considering adding a Crio white toner printer to their business, they compare it with both DTG and DTF. So, what are the differences and pros and cons of each?
Direct to Garment Process
Direct-to-garment printing is the process of printing ink directly onto a garment. Think of DTG printers as being large inkjet printers that print directly on textiles instead of paper. A pretreatment spray is required for DTG printing on dark garments. It treats the shirt so that the ink adheres to the textile. White and light-colored garments don’t require pretreatment, but you can get even better results if they are pretreated.
Once pretreated, the garment is loaded onto a platen to be printed on directly. Depending on the DTG printer model, the time it takes can vary. On dark garments, a layer of white ink is laid down first, then the colors are printed on top. When the printing is done, the garment will need to be cured with heat.
Pros of DTG
Direct-to-garment printing allows for full-color, high-resolution prints. There is no need to charge your customers per color or require a set-up fee since the shirt is printed digitally. DTG also gives you the ability to print on demand. Most DTG printers can print a shirt in about 2 minutes.
Garments printed with DTG printers have high washability. The print tends to last as long as the garment does when washed correctly. Proper washing instructions are to wash in cold water and hung to dry.
DTG is ideal for short runs so you can accept smaller orders and not require a minimum quantity. Eliminate missed revenue opportunities by being able to accept one-offs and short runs.
Cons of DTG
DTG requires the additional step of pretreatment. This step can be time-consuming when done manually and expensive if a pretreatment machine is used. When done manually, there is a bit of a learning curve meaning there’s a chance for inconsistencies which can result in problems with the print.
DTG printers are inkjet printers and therefore require maintenance. The printheads can clog and require replacement. Maintenance needs to be done daily to keep the printer in the best working order.
Ink for DTG printers can be expensive. With some printers, it can cost over $4.00 in ink for a colorful design on a dark garment.
You are limited in the types of fabric you can decorate with DTG. Garments must be at least 50% cotton. However, 100% cotton is ideal. The majority of a blended fabric needs to be cotton for the inks to adhere the way they are supposed to. DTG can be used only for garments. You cannot decorate hard surfaces items such as drinkware, metal, wood, etc.
The direct-to-film (DTF) process, sometimes also called Direct Transfer Film, is a new and unique printing method. It involves printing designs in ink on a transparent film with a DTF printer, coating it with adhesive, and drying the print. The prints can then be stored or transferred to a garment with a heat press.
There are two types of DTF printers available. The more affordable, desktop-size printers are typically modified inkjet printers and can run around $2,500-$3,000. They will require you to apply the adhesive yourself or purchase a shaker separately. The larger, industrial-level DTF printers that come with inline shakers that apply the adhesive powder automatically cost upwards of $15,000.
Pros of DTF
Due to its faster production process, DTF is ideal for larger runs and higher production. With DTF, we estimate you can print between 10-20 transfers per hour for entry-level printers and more than 30 per hour for industrial printers. This makes it ideal for large companies and corporations that order large amounts at a time.
Another advantage of DTF printing is that it allows you to work with any type of fabric, such as nylon, rayon, polyester, spandex, cotton, etc. Unlike DTG printing which requires cotton fabrics.
DTF combines quality, efficiency, and versatility. Compared to a method like DTG, it gives crisper, more detailed, and more vibrant images. Direct-to-film creates vibrant prints that, due to the adhesive powder, have great elasticity and can be stretched without cracking.
Cons of DTF
DTG and DTF printers require similar maintenance, especially with a converted DTF printer. However, DTF printers don’t need as much maintenance as DTG printers, but regular maintenance is still required to run smoothly.
DTF printing requires a well-ventilated room due to the fine adhesive. You will need to be able to run a pipe outside so that you don’t have dust from the adhesive filling the room you are working in. Also be sure that the adhesive you choose to use passes safety standards. Learn more about DTF safety, here.
Unless you have a commercial DTF printer, you will be adding the adhesive yourself so there’s a chance that it won’t be evenly distributed, or spots will be missed. Thus, there’s a learning curve to getting the coating of adhesive just right.
White Toner Transfer Process
White toner transfer is the process of printing on special paper or films and transferring to a substrate. For garments, there are two different types of paper, one-step for light garments and two-step paper for dark garments.
For two-step papers, you print directly onto a transparent film then, using a heat press, you marry the film to an adhesive sheet that only sticks to the toner. Once married, you press the film to your garment and do a finishing press.
With one-step papers, you simply print directly onto the paper, press to the shirt, then do a finishing press.
Pros of White Toner Transfer
White toner transfer is a highly versatile decoration method. Print and transfer intricate, full-color, vivid designs to the widest variety of colors and substrates. You can decorate cotton, polyester, poly-blends, denim, leather, wood, metal, acrylic, mylar balloons, and more.
With a Crio, every transfer you print generates profit. This is due to not needing to require a minimum order quantity because there are no set-up costs associated with white toner transfer. Just turn the printer on, print the design through the RIP software, and apply it to a substrate and profit.
Unlike inkjet printers, Crio printers use dry, crushed toner and not ink. No ink means no printheads that could clog. You could even turn the printer off for a while, turn it back on and jump right back in!
With white toner transfer, you can go to any local store and pick up substrates and transfer to it, unlike other methods where you’d have to check the material type or special order poly-coated items.
Cons of White Toner Transfer
Transferring to dark-colored garments takes longer than light-colored garments due to the need for two-step paper. Two-step papers require the extra step of “marrying” the A and B sheets.
White toner transfer requires a high-quality heat press. You cannot use a cheaply made press. You must be able to achieve even pressure and heat consistently.
Is Crio White Toner Right for Your Business?
If you are looking for a highly versatile decoration method with no maintenance to start or expand your business, Crio white toner is a great option. Crio white toner can be an excellent choice to expand your business’s offerings within an affordable budget. DTG and DTF printers tend to be more costly in startup costs and initial investment than a Crio white toner printer and require regular maintenance cycles.
White toner transfer allows for the widest variety of substrates to decorate. If you can fit it in a heat press, it can likely be transferred to and decorated. There are even water release papers so that you can decorate heat-sensitive items and create things like temporary tattoos. This cannot be done with DTF or DTG.
Additionally, Crio provides top-of-the-line printer to process support. This means we not only support our machines, but we also support you through the entire transfer process. If you have an issue with a specific media, Crio is happy to help. Crio also provides a support site that has how-to videos, marketing kits, profit guides, a community forum, a knowledge base, and more to ensure our users’ success.
Each method has its own pros and cons but if you are looking for a profitable, versatile method of personalizing garments AND hard goods with no maintenance, then Crio white toner transfer is for you.