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Types of DTF Printers: Which One Fits Your Needs?

Types of DTF Printers: Which One Fits Your Needs?

Jul 11, 2024

Digital printing system for printing on a wide range of applications


Direct-to-film (DTF) printing technology has gained traction in recent years and continues to grow in popularity among businesses in the customization or personalization industry. Besides being easy to use, DTF printers are exceptionally good at printing detailed designs on many surfaces, from fabrics to ceramics. 

Whether starting a t-shirt printing business or expanding into new custom products, evaluating the available types of DTF printers is crucial to finding the best fit for your operation. In this blog, we discuss some of the most common types of DTF printers available on the market, including their advantages and use cases so that you can make an informed choice for your company. 

What Are DTF Printers?

DTF printers are printing equipment that uses “direct to film” to transfer designs to various substrates or surfaces. Here is an overview of the process:

  • You create your desired design using graphic design software
  • The DTF printer prints the design onto a pre-treated film 
  • Once the ink dries, the film is dusted with a fine, heat-activated powder
  • The film is passed through a heat press, which activates the powder

The printed film is then placed directly onto the surface to be printed. The heat and pressure from the heat press permanently transfer the design from the film to the product. The result is a long-lasting, vibrant design resistant to fading or cracking. 

Common Types of DTF Printers

There are many types of DTF printers, and regardless of your business size, one will surely be perfect for your needs. To help you understand your options, we've broken them down into these main categories:

Types of DTF Printers by Production Capability 

High-volume or Automatic DTF Printers

High-volume or automatic DTF printers are an excellent option for running a large-scale customization business or needing fast and efficient printers for bulk orders. When people talk about a DTF commercial printer, they're likely referencing a high-volume or automatic DTF printer. These machines are designed for continuous production and can easily handle large quantities.

  • Speedy Production: High-volume DTF printers can complete hundreds or thousands of prints in a day, offering a quick turnaround time.
  • Automation: These printers have automatic features, such as material handling and cleaning systems, that make your work easier and minimize manual intervention.
  • Higher Initial Investment: Automatic DTF printers might have a higher price tag, but their faster output and industrial-scale capabilities typically justify the cost.
  • Types: High-volume printers come in various types, such as roll-to-roll and flatbed models. 

Manual DTF Printers

A more affordable option, manual DTF Printers are ideal for small businesses or startups just stepping into the customization industry. Despite their lower cost, these printers offer excellent printing quality. However, they typically require some manual intervention during the process.

  • Budget-friendly: Manual DTF printers are generally more affordable, making them an excellent choice for businesses with limited budgets or those exploring DTF printing as an additional service.
  • Hands-on Involvement: While manual printers may require more work, they allow you to understand every aspect of the DTF printing process.
  • Great for Small Orders: A manual DTF printer may be ideal if your business typically handles small print orders.

High-Resolution, Expanded Color Gamut DTF Printers

When excellent print quality and color reproduction are your top priorities, high-resolution DTF printers are the way to go. These machines are designed to deliver vibrant and detailed prints, making them perfect for intricate designs on all kinds of substrates.

  • Next-level Quality: These printers operate with high-resolution settings, allowing you to achieve sharp images with vivid colors and smooth gradients.
  • Wide Color Gamut: While most printers use a Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK) color model, some high-resolution models offer additional ink options. The wider range of colors allows for more detailed, creative, and vibrant designs. 
  • Durability and Longevity: Higher-end models often include advanced printheads and components, translating to longer-lasting prints and lower chances of color fading.

Types of DTF Printers By Width 

Small-format DTF Printers

Small-format DTF printers, also known as desktop DTF printers, are designed for businesses with limited space and lower production volume needs. They can also serve as a DTF home printer for hobbyists. 

These printers typically support up to 17-inch widths, making them perfect for customized apparel, accessories, and promotional products. They’re also popular among small businesses and startups, as they are more affordable and require minimal space.

Large-format DTF Printers

For businesses looking to scale, a DTF large-format printer provides greater print width capacity, higher printing speeds, and the ability to print on larger materials. These printers usually have a print width range from 44 inches to 64 inches or more. A large DTF printer can accommodate bulk orders, making it a good choice for high-volume production environments.

Key Takeaways 

Small businesses and startups can get a great start with manual DTF printers. These offer an affordable entry point with good print quality, allowing you to learn the DTF process hands-on.

As your business grows and your order volume increases, consider upgrading to automatic DTF printers. These deliver high-production capacity and efficiency, allowing you to handle larger orders with faster turnaround times.  Automatic models often come with features like roll-to-roll printing and automated material handling, significantly streamlining your workflow.

Meanwhile, high-resolution DTF printers are ideal for companies where exceptional print quality is paramount. However, these typically come with a higher price tag, so they're best suited for businesses with the budget to invest in premium printing capabilities.

Another consideration is the format of the DTF printers you choose. Automatic, manual, and high-resolution printers are available in small—and large-format options. 

Ultimately, when choosing a DTF printer, you should consider the following: 

  • Functionality
  • Format
  • Production Volume
  • Desired Print Quality
  • Cost

By carefully evaluating the above factors, you can make an informed decision and select the DTF printer that aligns with your business needs and budget.

Discover the Best DTF Printers for Your Business

DTF Printer USA is a trusted source of high-quality, commercial DTF printers. We offer a selection of DTF printers that are easy to operate and maintain. Additionally, they come with features such as a lengthened dry fixation system and laser sensors.

Additionally, we carry a variety of DTF printing essentials, such as inks, films, and powders. We also offer a setup service to help you get started with your new DTF printer. Place your order online today, or contact us if you have questions.