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If you’re puzzled about how to use DTF transfer film with sublimation printer for vibrant and long-lasting fabric prints, you have arrived at the right place. We’ll demystify the process, take you through the necessary materials, and offer step-by-step instructions to marry these two technologies effectively. You’ll learn “how to use dtf transfer film with sublimation printer” to avoid common pitfalls and ensure your designs stand out on any fabric. We are your one-stop solution for all questions sublimation!

Key Takeaways

  • DTF (Direct-to-Film) printing involves printing designs onto a special film and heat pressing onto various fabrics, offering detailed full-color results, while sublimation infuses ink into high-polyester fabrics, but isn’t suitable for dark colors.
  • Quality DTF prints need the right materials like a  compatible sublimation printer, high-quality DTF transfer film, DTF powder, and a calibrated heat press set to the correct temperature and pressure conditions.
  • To resolve common DTF printing issues, maintain a clean workspace, check ink adhesion, perform regular printer maintenance, and use a precise temperature and pressure in the heat pressing process.

Understanding DTF and Sublimation Printing

DTF printing, short for Direct-to-Film, is a method of transferring designs onto a wide variety of fabrics. The design is first printed onto a specialized film, which is then heat-pressed onto the garment. This versatile method allows for detailed, full-color designs on diverse fabrics, including:

  • polyester
  • cotton
  • fleece
  • nylon
  • blends

Sublimation printing, on the other hand, works like magic! The design is printed onto sublimation paper using sublimation ink. When heat is applied, this ink turns into gas and infuses into the fabric, embedding the design within it. This method is particularly effective on high-polyester-content, light-colored garments and results in a texture less feel, as the design becomes a part of the fabric itself. However, it cannot produce true white or very light colors on dark fabrics due to the absence of white ink.

Essential Materials for DTF Printing with a Sublimation Printer

Glossy DTF transfer film and a printer

Creating eye-catching prints requires key materials like specialized DTF transfer film, DTF powder, a compatible sublimation printer, and a heat press. Let’s delve into the significance of each.

Choosing the Right Sublimation Printer

The first step towards successful DTF printing is choosing the right sublimation printer. The printer should have the following features:

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  • Compatibility with DTF inks and films
  • Wide color gamut
  • High resolution
  • Suitable connectivity options

Various models fit the bill. For instance, the Xinflying X7 DTF Printer is recommended for startups due to its versatility, cost-effectiveness, user-friendly interface, and quick turnaround. For high-volume printing needs, the Xinflying X5+ DTF Printer and the PRO A-331 from Hanrun Paper stand out with their dual Epson i3200 printheads and high-quality printing at an affordable cost. Connectivity options like USB, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi can help streamline the DTF printing process. Learn more about sublimation printer dimensions here!

Selecting High-Quality DTF Transfer Film

Glitter DTF transfer film seen in the picture

Next on the list is the special film for DTF transfer. A high-quality film should have the following features:

  • Special ink-absorbing coating with a matte frosted appearance to ensure proper ink adherence
  • Ability to withstand high temperatures without curling or melting
  • High ink load capacity to prevent DTF powder from adhering to areas without ink

The market offers a variety of DTF transfer films, such as:

  • Cold peel
  • Hot peel
  • Matte[1]
  • Glossy
  • Glitter
  • Fluorescent
  • Metallic

Remember, the choice of DTF transfer film significantly influences the print’s final quality and durability on the fabric.

Preparing Your Heat Press for DTF Printing

A heat press is essential for transferring the printed design from the DTF film onto the fabric. It should be preheated to a temperature range of 275-325°F (135-162°C) for general DTF printing, ensuring accurate temperature control and even distribution. If you’re working with 100% polyester fabrics, lower the temperature setting to 285°F for 15 seconds to prevent scorching.

Pressure consistency is another critical factor, with medium pressure (40-60 PSI) recommended during the heat application to achieve uniform transfer across the design. And don’t forget to protect DTF transfers during pressing by using a Teflon sheet or parchment paper!

Design Creation for DTF Printing

Moving onto design creation, software such as Adobe Illustrator or CorelDRAW can be used. Strive for high-resolution images of at least 300 DPI for sharpness and clarity. Experiment with a color range of 6-12 colors using the standard CMYK process.

When it comes to file formats, PNG, TIFF, or PDF are your best bets due to their compatibility with most DTF printers and their ability to maintain high quality. Vector graphics are preferred over raster graphics due to their scalability and quality retention when resized. Last but not least, don’t forget to consider the dimensions of the design to ensure it fits appropriately within the desired location on your product.

Step-by-Step Guide: DTF Printing with a Sublimation Printer

It’s time to assemble these elements and navigate through the DTF printing process with a sublimation printer. This guide encompasses the entire process, including:

  1. Printing the design
  2. Applying DTF powder
  3. Preheating the transfer film
  4. Transferring the design onto fabric

Printing the Design on DTF Transfer Film

Large printer ejecting paper with nice design on it

First, load the DTF transfer film into the sublimation printer with the cloudy, matte side facing up. This ensures that the design prints on the correct side. Remember, the design must be printed in reverse to ensure correct orientation during the transfer process.

Once your design is printed, cut it out of the DTF film, leaving at least a 1/2 inch margin around it. This prevents ink transfer to unintended areas on the fabric. Now, it’s time to move on to the next step: applying DTF powder to your design.

Applying DTF Powder to the Printed Design

As soon as the design is printed, follow these steps to apply DTF powder:

  1. Apply the powder while the ink is still wet to secure adhesion.
  2. Use a sifter or screen mesh to evenly distribute the DTF powder across the printed design to prevent clumping.
  3. After thoroughly covering the design, gently tap off the excess powder to ensure it remains only on the inked areas.

Proper application of DTF powder involves prompt action after printing, even distribution to avoid clumping, and careful removal of any excess powder. All these steps contribute to achieving the best adhesion and quality of the transferred design. Ready for the next step?

Preheating the DTF Transfer Film

A beaker with green liquid being heated in a science lab

Before transferring the design onto fabric, preheating the DTF transfer film is mandatory as it activates the adhesive properties of the DTF powder. The preheating temperature for DTF adhesive powders usually ranges from 150 to 160 degrees Celsius (302 to 320 degrees Fahrenheit), but be sure to follow the specific instructions from the transfer film’s manufacturer.

A quick tip: to preheat the film efficiently, hover a heat press set at 385°F over the DTF transfer film for about 10 seconds without making contact. This ensures that the DTF powder and ink on the film are cured properly. Now we’re ready to transfer the design onto the fabric!

Transferring the Design onto Fabric

Position the DTF transfer film on the fabric, ensuring correct alignment. To protect the press from ink blow-out, cover the setup with butcher paper. This will help keep the equipment clean and prevent any potential issues. Adjust the heat press to approximately 360 degrees Fahrenheit and apply even pressure for about 45 seconds to transfer the design onto the fabric.

After pressing, give the DTF transfer paper a few seconds to cool before peeling off the film, starting from one corner. For increased durability and to achieve a polished look, perform a post-press by placing a single layer of t shirts material or parchment paper over the design and pressing again for 15 seconds. This softens the design and reduces shine.

And there you have it – your beautiful DTF print, achieved with the help of a dtf hack and a high-quality dtf sheet!

Tips for Successful DTF Printing with a Sublimation Printer

A sign on a road reading ‘Best Practices’

For achieving the best outcome in DTF printing, follow these extra tips. Let the DTF transfer film fully cool after pressing and before peeling it off to ensure the quality of the transferred design and prevent potential damage.

Second, maintain a clean and tidy printing environment. This enhances color transfer, resulting in more vibrant colors in your print quality.

Lastly, always select the correct DTF transfer film tailored to the fabric, such as cotton shirts or polyester.

Troubleshooting Common DTF Printing Issues

Despite our best efforts, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Here are some common issues and how to troubleshoot them.

If you’re facing poor ink adhesion on fabric, adjust the ink settings for better penetration and consider using pre-treatment solutions. For color inconsistencies, try thoroughly mixing the ink and recalibrating the printer. If your printer is double printing or ghosting, use a high tension fabric clamp and adjust printer settings to allow more time between printing layers.

Regular printer upkeep is also crucial. Maintain stable temperature and humidity in your workspace and clean the printhead and ink tubes frequently. This reduces the likelihood of DTF printing issues. And if you’re still having trouble, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice or try alternative materials.

Caring for Your DTF Printed Fabrics

A robot washing a t-shirt with soap

Once you’ve got your perfect DTF print, you’ll want to keep it looking great. Start by turning garments inside out before washing and use cold water. Set your dryer to a tumble dry low setting to prevent heat damage to the print.

Avoid direct ironing on DTF transfers as inconsistency in heat and pressure can damage the print. If you need to iron the DTF printed fabric, turn the garment inside out and iron on the reverse side. This will help maintain the vibrancy and durability of your DTF prints.


DTF printing with a sublimation printer isn’t just a process; it’s an art form. From understanding the nuances between DTF and sublimation printing, selecting the right materials, creating your design, to following the step-by-step guide, every step contributes to the final masterpiece. And with the additional tips and troubleshooting advice, you’re well-equipped to navigate any challenges along the way. So, get creative, experiment, and most importantly, enjoy the process![2]

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you use DTF transfer paper in a regular printer?

No, not all inkjet printers are suitable for DTF transfers. You should check if your printer can print with white ink and is compatible with DTF transfer films before attempting to use it.

Can you turn any printer into a sublimation printer?

Yes, you can turn your regular printer into a sublimation printer by replacing the ink with sublimation ink, but keep in mind that you won’t be able to use regular ink afterward.

What cheap printers can be converted to sublimation?

You can convert some of the cheapest EcoTank printers like the ET-2800, ET-2803, and ET-2760 for sublimation, but avoid Epson workforce models as they won’t work well.

Is DTF better than sublimation printing?

It ultimately depends on the specific needs of your printing project. DTF is more versatile for a wide range of fabrics, while sublimation printing is excellent for light-colored polyester garments. Consider the fabric and desired outcome to determine the best method for your project.

What are the crucial materials for DTF printing?

You’ll need specialized DTF transfer film, DTF powder, a compatible sublimation printer, and a heat press for DTF printing. These are the crucial materials for this process.


  1. matte. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster Dictionary. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/matte#:~:text=%3A%20lacking%20or%20deprived%20of%20luster,a%20matte%20finish
  2. Copiers, A. T. A. (2024, January 8). DTF Printing at Home: Share Your Creativity with Every Print. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dtf-printing-home-share-your-creativity-every-lq75c/
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